AN EARLY 17th CENTURY
ENGLISH PATTERN BAND SAMPLER

Early 17th Century English Pattern Band Sampler

This unsigned, undated band sampler from the collection of Nicola Parkman was sewed circa 1630, and captures qualities I particularly associate with the earliest English band sampler: prudence and frugality. I assume this to be an "exemplar" to emulate one’s life and work. I like to imagine that the thoughts of the women of the time, most of whom embroidered for their homes rather than for whimsy or professionally, are captured in these intensely stitched horizontal bands of stitches. Later, the more practical "marked" goods (bed linens, night shirts, table linens) they recorded and chose to embellish with these patterns were much admired in clothing and other household articles.

I picture a woman sitting beside a window in the last of the day’s light. She is looking for a pattern to embellish cuffs on a newly made shirt for her husband. For reference, she pulls from her work basket a narrow rolled piece of linen stitched with horizontal bands of colored silks- her pattern band sampler.

She has thirty bands to choose from. She finds what she is looking for and stitches it reversibly on her husband’s linen shirt, so should anyone glimpse the inner side of his cuff it will look as finished and perfect as the out side.

While I was unable to examine the back side of the original sampler I can’t say for certain if it was stitched reversibly. Further, it is my belief that many of the open floral patterns in the low two thirds of the sampler might have been meant to be filled in with either counted satin or trellis stitch, left open because the woman who stitched this wanted to leave that decision to the piece she’d embellish later on.

The original sampler measures 5-1/2" x 31". If it is stitched on 35 count linen it will most closely approximate the size of the original sampler- 7-1/4" x 29". Stitches used are back, double running, trellis, cross and counted satin. The sampler is recommended for more advanced needleworkers but the instructions are so clear that anyone with determination could stitch this.

Kit with cotton floss: $85.00
Kit with silk floss: $108.00
Graph only: $26.00

 
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