Stitching in Second – embroidery samplers

Super Clever Mann Art Docents  Anju, Hiro and Lisa did this fine project with their Second Grade class.

©, 2012.
©, 2012.
©, 2012.

Over a period of 2 weeks, the students created these stitch samplers. These are their first stitches! 

Embroidery Samplers

A needlework sampler is a piece of embroidery produced as a demonstration or test of skill in needlework. Samplers often include the alphabet, figures, motifs, decorative borders and sometimes the name of the person who embroidered them and the date. The oldest surviving samplers were constructed in the 15th and 16th centuries. As there were no pre-printed patterns available for needleworkers, a stitched model was needed. Whenever a needlewoman saw a new example of a stitching pattern, she would quickly sew a small sample of it onto a piece of cloth – her ‘sampler’. The patterns were sewn randomly onto the fabric as a reference for future use, and the woman would collect extra stitches and patterns throughout her lifetime.
A sumptuous collection of samplers can be found on the website of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the under the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History .

Miniature samplers, like this charming example from the 16th century, are fairly unusual. This type of simple sampler was undertaken by a little girl, usually younger than age ten. Possibly made at a “dame school,” its purpose was to help the child learn letters and numbers as well as basic embroidery skills. The motto would have been considered an appropriately modest and feminine sentiment.


Linen cut to 4″ squares

Embroidery hoops (1 for each student)


Embroidery floss

Prep work:

cut the linen in to squares

stretch the squares into the hoops

sketch the stitches in pencil on to the fabric

Stitch techniques:  (the docents created this handout for each student to have, they also provided a list of links)



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