M4577 | Sampler

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Patty Hubbard
About 1850, 19th century
43.2 x 41.8 cm
Gift from Miss M. Gould
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Sampler (16)
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Keys to History

Until the invention of the sewing machine in the 1850s, all clothing and linens were made by hand. Learning skill with a needle was an essential part of every girl's education; as soon as she could hold a needle she started learning to sew.

The education of girls beyond basic reading skills was not considered as important as that of boys, and little girls learned the alphabet and numbers while practising basic sewing stitches on samplers. Older girls, having the privilege of better education, demonstrated their skill by stitching samplers that included images of houses, trees, animals and people.

A short motto or a quotation from the Bible was usually worked into the sampler, along with the girl's name and the date. The finished sampler, proof of her sewing skills, was often displayed in the girl's home.

  • What

    This sampler was produced using a cross-stitch in silk and wool on a linen background. The threads would have been carefully counted so that each stitch was properly placed.

  • Where

    If the name of a community is not stitched onto a sampler, it is often difficult to determine the region from which it came. Sampler designs and stitches were traditional.

  • When

    Throughout the 19th century, instruction in needlework for young girls - which required them to make samplers - ranked in importance with reading, writing and arithmetic.

  • Who

    This was most likely a schoolgirl project worked by Patty Hubbard (later Mrs. Ira Gould). It was, for some reason, never completed.