Sampling Some of My Favorites

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Elizabethan-Inspired Band Sampler to Stitch, designed and stitched by Jill Cater Nixon, May/June 2003  

Stitched samplers have been a mainstay in needlework since at least the sixteenth century. Originally, they were a method for learning and practicing a variety of stitches and were a way to preserve motifs for future use. These earliest samplers incorporated small flower or animal designs, or figures like Adam and Eve, and often complex geometric designs. The stitch work was executed with several different thread colors—sometimes 20 or more.


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  Stitch a Miniature Victorian Spot Sampler by Page Dorsey, January/February 2004

In the eighteenth century, women stitched spot samplers (individual motifs worked in silk) as a reference for design and color. These samplers were regarded as an essential resource that belonged in every stitcher’s work basket. Sometimes motifs were cut away from the sampler and appliquéd onto household items. These samplers became popular again with the Victorians.


But samplers have always been popular, haven’t they? From the early 1600s when the Dutch stitched initials on their household linens to identify them to the laundress to the samplers of nineteenth-century American school girls that exhibited both moral and needlework accomplishments in the form of poetic verses of virtue, these humble cloths have remained constants.


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 A Mitten Sampler to Cross-Stitch, designed by Nan Heldenbrand Morrissette, July/August 2000  

And we still love making samplers today. They no longer serve the same purpose as they did in centuries past, but still we delight in stitching colorful figures and meaningful verse on cloth as practice for our skills and perhaps as connection to our past.


Learn more about samplers and discover wonderful stitch designs to make them along with dozens of other fabulous needlework projects in PieceWork’s The Best of Needlework Collection CD or digital download.


Stitch on!