Project: Visualization

A Stitch in Time: Samplers

Samplers are a girlhood art, and for many, their only real chance at schooling. I started this project, wanting to look at how the samplers changed over time, containing it to a geographic region to limit my sample size and influence.

As for what has been written, there is not much, and most of it is old. The most recent source that I used came from 1991, and the earliest of which from 1921. The databases where I got the majority of my information from are much more recent. 

I focused my research on New England, leaving out the later developments in other areas of the country. I kept my research between a three hundred year period to get a more general sense of how the samplers had changed over time, becoming more elaborate and decorative, rather than just a place to copy patterns and stitches. 

My conclusion, after studying these samplers and the stitches, is that the samplers got more elaborate and complicated as the cost of making them went down, allowing for more thread and creativity, and an increase in girl’s education, allowing for more complex stitches and patterns to be used. The ages of the girls were usually somewhere between 10-15, done in whatever free time a girl had, as a way to practice letters, numbers, and stitching. The more elaborate, the better, with colors and stitches used, to better impress their community and any potential suitors.  

When looking into these samplers, I focused on the stitches the girl’s used, learning how to create the twelve most commonly used ones, as a way to see for myself what they girls did, and to show others how they were made, to show part of the process the girls did in making theirs.

Stitch Dictionary –

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