Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Decorating with Samplers.......Handstitched Heirlooms

One of my hobbies is stitchery and most of you know how I love needlepoint. I am equally fond of creating museum reproduction samplers. I have many on display in my home as well as several waiting their turn to be finished and framed. Samplers are a must for colonial, or primitive style homes. However, I use them in my 112 year old home even if it is more English/Old World in design. I think they are beautiful and have seen them also used fabulously in contemporary homes where there is a modern and antique mix.

The word Sampler is derived from the Latin word "Exemplum". The meaning of this word being "an example to be followed". Samplers are different examples of a stitches. It is generally believed that sampler stitching was carried out by young girls to encourage skills in stitching for use in later life. A sampler would probably have a variety of different stitches, and would be kept by the girl as a reference for future work. It would normally have been the particular individuals first attempt at stitching.

During the 19th century, samplers became an important part of the school curriculum, young girls were encouraged to stitch to prepare themselves for their rolè as wives to be. These samplers tended to be crude and simplistic in their design, usually only having alphabets, numerals, their name and date, and the name of the school. The age of the stitcher ranged from as young as six up to about the age of fifteen years. The average age being eleven.

So what of samplers today?, well they are not being made in schools anymore! And the average 11 year old would today be sitting playing with a Nintendo Wii or even on Facebook!. Samplers tend now to be stitched by older people as a recreational hobby, and cover a vast variety of designs, not just the regimental alphabet and numeral design. Whilst the hobby is still very popular, fewer younger people are partaking in it.

Excerpts from The History of Samplers by www.exemplumco.uk

This song was written by a Shaker Elder and  is a tribute to simplicity. Enjoy!

The girls would would include their names and the year of completion. Many would also stitch a Bible verse or favorite quote. This one was done by Miss Margaret Smith 184_, ( for some reason there is no fourth number.)

Samplers are like potato chip...one is never enough. When you purchase or create your first sampler, a collection is on its way.

 Many people make "sampler walls" in their homes.

Sampler, by Betsy Manchester, Rhode Island, 1793. From the collections of the Wisconsin Historical Society.


Catherine Kendall 1807

Needlework Sampler Sarah Manfield, 1792 

It was made by Hannah Arkell of St. Joseph County, Ontario, Canada, who was born in 1819 and died in St. Joseph County at age 94 on January 7, 1913.

Many people collect antique samplers which can cost thousands of dollars. Here is an arrangement of framed samplers, most of them 19th century, hanging on a wall in the master bedroom in the home of iconic director Woody Allen

Stephen Shadley decorated Allen's home. “That’s where he works,” Shadley says of a desk in a corner of the bedroom. “He still types with his first typewriter". More samplers on the wall.

These are reproduction samplers. You can buy graphs of authentic museum samplers and stitch them yourself.

Samplers make rooms especially pretty at Christmas. There is a simplicity and warmth about them.

American or English sampler - Marla Hayton Drewll, 1841

Margaret Moss's sampler, 1825.

Georgian needlework sampler, initialed MN, dated 1773

Scottish House Samplers from the Whitman Sampler Collection

This is a miniature vignette......complete with sampler.

Most of the samplers I do are large and they are done on linen. 

This is an old winding back staircase and it's hard to take pictures with a flash because of the glare so these are not very good quality but wanted to share them anyway. My goal is to fill up the walls in samplers. Obviously I have alot of work to do!!

This one and the one below are quite large and done on linen.

Again sorry about the quality!

A large and medium one awaiting frames.

One is ready to frame, the bottom one I am currently working on. These are both large ones.

This is how it will look when I finish.

If you have never attempted counted cross stitch, give it a try. You can make some heirlooms for your home and it's great stress therapy!!

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This blog post was published by
Lisa Farmer
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