It was a source for her to refer to, of patterns and stitches, before the introduction and growing availability of printed designs.

dating fabric with egyptian motifs-17

Linen sampler embroidered with silk in double running stitch, by unknown maker, Egypt, 14th-16th century. In their earliest form, samplers were put together as personal reference works for embroiderers: trials of patterns and stitches which had been copied from others, records of particular effects achieved which could be recreated again.

Of particular importance has been the donation of samplers descended through families, which come with their associated histories, as in the group of six related mid-17th century samplers given by descendants of Margret Mason, a young girl who worked her signed piece in 1660.

It has elements of two different sorts of needlework exercise, which developed in the following decades: the randomly placed working of individual motifs (usually described as spot samplers) and the more orderly arrangement of rows of border patterns (band samplers).

Both of these types are well represented in the Museum’s collection, with over one hundred English examples from the 17th century.

Cook, meaning any kind of work to be copied or imitated.

They would have been the work, not of children, but of more experienced embroiderers, and some, from their quality, of professionals. It also reflects their widespread appeal to museum audiences, and to private collectors, whose gifts or bequests have significantly augmented the Museum’s collection. Linen sampler embroidered with silk in double running stitch and pattern darning, by unknown maker, Egypt, 15th-16th century. Their range is extensive in country of origin and style, as well as date, reflecting the Museum’s early and continuing recognition of the contribution made by samplers towards documenting the history of embroidery, its teaching and practice.Although there are a number of references to samplers in 16th-century literature, surviving examples are exceptionally rare.The central motif on the Italian sampler, with a design in reserve on a red embroidered ground, was first published in the Esemplario di lavori of Giovanni Andrea Vavassore in 1530 and it is surrounded with border patterns typical of those used in the 16th century for personal and household linen.The increasing availability of these pattern books brought new sources of reference for embroiderers to apply to their work.