Samplers began to be used as teaching tools in the education of young girls. Some samplers taught the more practical skills of plain sewing, while others focused on ‘fancywork’. Many had verses added to teach the alphabet, encourage morality and promote good conduct. An example of a practical sampler is Maria van Wyk’s Darning sampler, stitched in 1762 when she was a 16 year-old girl in Nijkerk, Holland.
It shows different types of darning stitches that Maria could use to repair holes in fabrics. You can see that cloth was much more readily available, but still expensive enough to warrant repair, since Maria paid attention to the design of her sampler as well as the stitches. Her sampler is beautiful as well as useful.
By the 20th century sampler making had fallen out of favor along with the general practice of needlework. Those who created samplers often did so as an exercise in a particular embroidery technique rather than for basic educational or reference purposes. Samplers remained examples of the needle artist’s proficiency in a particular technique. Modern samplers continued to serve as a practice tool when learning a new skill, and as a way to experiment with different combinations of fiber, stitch and design, but they also became a connection to the past. Many of the samplers currently being stitched are reproductions of 19th century schoolgirl samplers.
Today, needle artists connect with the past through the medium of embroidery, using the same materials, tools, and techniques as their predecessors but in ways that reflect the current realities of modern life. An example of this is the sampler Breakbeats, created by Andrew Salomone in 2009. This is how he explains his work: “It occurred to me that needleworkers used to have to make patterns and images to decorate fabric in the same way that contemporary music producers make beats and musical compositions by repeating and layering audio samples in digital sound editing programs. So the files created using digital editing programs today basically function in the same way that needlework samplers did in the days when all embroidery had to be done by hand.” Andrew’s sampler is more about the ideas than the techniques and is an intriguing way of connecting the past with the present.
Hi – I am Dawn Peschke and I would like to Thank You for stopping by DP Stitchin’. I love to stitch and hope to share my excitement with you.
I started this blog so that I could share some of the cool things I have learned about embroidery and connect with others who share my love for this work – no matter where in the world they are. I know I am not the only one out there who is crazy about stitchin’, so introduce yourselves – I would love to get to know you.
I took a degree in Studio Art with most of my work being done in the areas of Teaching & Textiles, but I also have a strong interest in Art History. I think it is important to understand the role that embroidery in all its various forms, has played throughout history. The work of our sister stitchers* becomes a resource for our own work and connects us to our stitchin’ roots while acting as a window into their worlds.
So, join me on my journey . . . the adventure begins!
*yes, I know there have been guys involved at times, but we both know that stitchin’ is still mostly a gal thing, which is too bad. Gonna have to do somethin’ about that!