Sunday, April 18, 2010
I found these pieces of textile, carefully wrapped up in a small paper bag at the bottom of a box full of absolutely wonderful old linen and lace. And just at first, I wondered what on earth they could be! Because I had never seen anything like them before. They looked, at first glance, like parts of a garment, because they had buttonholes, buttons, pintucks, frills and darts. But when you looked more closely, you couldn't imagine what on earth that garment might be. One of them had a date - 1894 - embroidered on it in tiny red cross stitches, with sets of initials. One was in fine cotton, and one in flannel, with the work in blue thread. Every little piece of needlework was slightly different, and all of it very skilled. And then it struck me - these must be samplers of dressmaking - i.e. useful - needlework! I suppose the children of those who were reasonably well off might do conventional embroidered samplers, while the children of those who would be expected to make their living as seamstresses, might produce these 'useful needlework' samplers, so that they would know how to make garments of all kinds. Isn't that interesting? I find these pieces incredibly moving - I've never come across anything like them before and I'm amazed by how difficult it has been to find references to anything similar online. I wonder if they may have been made in so called industrial schools? Certainly, somebody took the immense trouble to keep them safe for over 100 years. So they deserve to be appreciated, and perhaps added to a collection of samplers.
Posted by Catherine Czerkawska at 6:43 pm