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The expertise displayed in many of these samplers is obvious: they could only have been made by girls who were already capable embroiderers and had the patience to learn to use their needles for a more difficult technical skill, the making of needle lace. Relatively few white work samplers are inscribed or dated, perhaps because they were not that first most important embroidery exercise, the polychrome band sampler, which heralded the beginning of an embroidery education. Where there are exceptionally finely worked lace bands and panels, it seems reasonable to suggest that some young women were pursuing an apprenticeship and the possibility of future professional employment. Lace for trimmings and insertions on household and personal linen was always a marketable commodity. Although mainly worked with linen threads, the demands of fashionable raised work for the pictorial embroidery of the seventeenth century meant many girls also practised the technique in coloured silks. Rather than seeking paid employment such girls were probably from a prosperous family and aiming to produce a complex casket, cabinet or looking glass frame for their domestic environment. 

 

White work band sampler, 17th century. Linen, embroidered with linen threads and a small amount of pink (faded red) silk in double hem, double running, stem and long armed cross stitch, cut work and pulled and drawn work with needle weaving and needle lace. 20.75 x 98.5 cm.
Mrs H.A. Longman (T.8-1938)

 

 

White work band sampler, 17th century. Linen, embroidered with linen threads and a small amount of polychrome silks and silver metal threads in hem, double running and satin stitch, cut work and pulled and drawn work with needle weaving and needle lace. 13.5 x 67.5 cm.
Mrs H.A. Longman (T.11-1938)

 

 

White work sampler, 1728. Inscribed ‘Ursula Slade’. Linen, embroidered with linen threads in satin, counted satin and back stitch. Needle lace and hollie point worked in cut rectangular and round panels. 21 x 21.75 cm.
Dr J.W. L. Glaisher Bequest (T.136-1928)