Book Review – Feminist Icon Cross Stitch by Anna Fleiss & Lauren Mancuso

Feminist Icon Cross Stitch Cover
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Feminist Icon Cross Stitch Cover

Feminist Icon Cross Stitch – 30 Daring Designs to Celebrate Strong Women by Anna Fleiss and Lauren Mancuso

Let’s just come out and say it – I think this is a terrific idea for a cross stitch book. As much as there’s a gender bias in cross stitch, there’s a much larger gender bias in the world in general, and it’s great to see the growth of feminist books for girls and other gentle ways of inspiring feminist discussion. This new book by Anna Fleiss and Lauren Mancuso fits in nicely to this paradigm, combining some enjoyable designs with accessible education on feminism.

Instructions from Feminist Icon Cross Stitch

The book begins, as all good cross stitch books should, with a tutorial section. It’s succinct, clear and does the job. I liked the reference to Carrying Thread which proves that the authors have a bit of stitchy experience! From thereon the book gets down to the patterns and the descriptions!

Queen Elizabeth Design from Feminist Icon Cross Stitch

Whether it’s figures from history, or from pop culture, each design is cleverly designed to capture the likeness of the person in question while remaining simple enough to complete in a short amount of time. The patterns are easy to follow and what’s quite useful is that the hardback copy of the book stays open quite easily, so you can follow the pattern without having to re-open the book all the time – a small but important fact!

Rosie The Riveter design from Feminist Icon Cross Stitch

The selection of icons is diverse and there’s a lot to be learned from the book. Alongside each design is a page that introduces you to the icon in question, which is what makes this book really great. I love a cross stitch book that teaches you more than just cross stitch and Feminist Icon Cross Stitch does just that.

See Also
How To Cross Stitch - photo credit Stacy Grant

Smash The Patriarchy design from Feminist Icon Cross Stitch

The final set of patterns gives you some favourite feminist phrases to stitch up and stick up in suitable places which is a nice typographic touch. Let’s not forget that one of the benefits of cross stitch is that it gives you time to reflect on what you’re stitching, and this book is a powerful tool in that respect. You can spend time reflecting on country cottages and kittens if you like, but why not take the time to consider the story of Sojourner Truth instead..?

So, if you want a cross stitch book with some interesting designs to inspire intelligent thought on feminism and activism, Feminist Icon Cross Stitch by Anna Fleiss and Lauren Mancuso is just ideal. It’s a great gift for anyone who wants to stitch something different as well as a gentle introduction to some inspirational women.

Feminist Icon Cross Stitch – 30 Daring Designs to Celebrate Strong Women by Anna Fleiss and Lauren Mancuso is published by Running Press. Click on any of the images or links to get a copy of the book from Amazon – they’re affiliate links but that helps us keep the lights on!

View Comments (4)
  • I have to say, I love the idea, but not the execution of this. My stitching time is limited and I can’t see wasting it to make items that are supposed to look like historical figures but really barely look human. These designs strike me as appropriate for the most basic beginner or for use in a kid’s room to educate and not much else. I would much rather have a more detailed and complex design that is more realistic/naturalistic that is more time consuming to represent these women OR inspiring quotes from them with feminist iconography that would be quick to stitch. These pixelated, simplistic designs totally miss the mark for me. I like a combination of funky AND artistic. To be worth my time and effort, a pattern has to be attractive when it’s finished. These just are not.

    • I can see what you’re saying Alessandra. There’s a trade off with cross stitch between realism and simplicity (meaning less time taken to complete) and I guess some design decisions were made by the authors. I’d like to think that there’s scope to modify the designs for extra realism – more shading for instance – but this is definitely an entry level book.
      If you’re looking for something more sophisticated, have you tried [shameless plug] The Mr X Stitch Guide to Cross Stitch [/shameless plug]? 🙂

      • I will definitely check it out shameless plug and all. I thoroughly enjoyed the first issue of your magazine. (I am not a plant. No affiliation whatsoever with Mr. Cross Stitch)

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