This tudor rose motif is from a British sampler dated 1749. Check it out on the V&A’s site for more info. I learned quite a bit about samplers while interning at the Harris Museum & Art Gallery in Preston, UK. They were used to practice embroidery, experiment with different stitch combinations, and document patterns for future use. Back in the 16th century, professional and amateur needleworkers used samplers instead of pattern books, which were expensive and scarce. By the 19th century, samplers were for inexperienced school children who were learning their letters. Samplers normally have bands of patterns, which were used to decorate hems, and alphabets, which were used to initial household linens. Crowns and flowers are also popular motifs. This sampler from 1749 has all of those things along with a unicorn(?) and some strange looking men. I wonder what they were used to decorate?
There are also three variations of flame stitch on this sampler. Flame stitch was a very popular technique in the 18th century that could be found on furniture to footwear! The hand screen shown below has been completely covered in flame stitch – an appropriate choice considering what it was used for. The panel would have been mounted on a stick (like a fan) and kept by the mantle. People used screens to protect their faces from the heat of the fire. I’ve heard that women wore wax makeup that melted if they sat too close to the fireplace. This is a good story, but apparently it’s a myth!
– Shannon Quigley