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Cross Stitch Sampler Charts

The word "sampler" has meant quite a few different things through the ages. Its original purpose was not for display, but rather as a pattern example and teaching device. Since pattern books were not yet in existence, samplers became popular in the late 1400s and early 1500s as a way to record new stitches and designs that one might see. Far from the usual cross stitched samplers of today, these were pieces of fabric covered randomly with as many different stitches as the embroiderer could collect.

Later, as embroidery became more and more valued and stitchery became more complicated, the stitches were organized as bands on a narrow piece of linen. These were highly prized and often handed down within a family. By the end of the 16th century, pattern books had been produced, but they were still very scarce and samplers continued to be used. The earliest sampler that still survives with a name and date was made by Jane Bostocke and dated 1598.

By the 18th century, pattern books were more widely available and samplers changed in character. Some were organized pictures commemorating a rite of passage, family tree, or other important information, lavishly decorated. The alphabet sampler was an educational tool, and later samplers were made and displayed as evidence of the sewer's skill.

We still have alphabet and other traditional sampler forms, but today we also use the word to describe densely packed pictures celebrating a particular theme. Our "Celebration of Music Sampler" by Nancy Rossi and "Stitcher's Sampler" by Barbara Baatz Hillman are excellent examples of modern sampler design.

Kooler Design Studio, Inc.
3527 Mt. Diablo Blvd. #256
Lafayette, CA 94549
E-mail: info@koolerdesign.com

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