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Sampler with framing borders, 1815. Inscribed ‘Mary Livermore’. Cotton, yellow, embroidered with polychrome silks in cross, satin, chain and stem stitch. 42.5 x 45.1 cm.
Lady St John Hope Bequest (T.13-1952)


Even with the increased domestic use of the sewing machine from the mid-nineteenth century onwards, needle skills remained important, and continued to remain so into the early twentieth century. Although the availability of decorative woven and printed textiles meant that embroidery lost its prime role of enhancing plain fabrics, stitching remained a dominant part of a girl’s education. Both embroidery techniques and plain sewing are displayed on these samplers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The former were considered a necessary accomplishment for the middle classes, a genteel hobby which became dominated by the influx of coloured Berlin woolwork charts, requiring only an ability to copy in cross stitch. Plain sewing samplers tend to display greater skills, for they were often made by young women hoping to qualify as teachers and to earn their own living. Each type of sampler, whether conventional or decorative, displaying competence at white work techniques or a range of plain sewing exercises, documents the changing roles and aspirations of ordinary women. For many a woman of the past, the sampler she stitched in her youth is often the only record of her existence.  



Plain sewing sampler, 1894. Initialled ‘G E F B’. Linen, embroidered with blue cotton in hem, running, double running, back, cross, herringbone, feather, daisy and whipped stem stitch with French knots, damask darning, needle weaving and cut and drawn work. Also included: inserted patches, tape, loops, buttons, hooks and eyes, mitred corners. 34 x 56.5 cm.
Given by Miss Mary Barnardiston (T.9-1946)


Needlework sampler book, 1930s. Worked by V. E. Newton when at the Gloucestershire Training College of Domestic Science.
Given by Mrs Carol Humphrey, Honorary Keeper of Textiles (T.1-2017)

White work sampler, 1936. Initialled ‘D S’. Linen, embroidered with ivory silk threads in double hem, satin and counted satin stitches, drawn work with filling stitches. 20 x 43 cm.
Miss Dorothy Stevens Bequest (T.1-1970)