Monday, April 27, 2009

Antique Samplers

I have another very curious story to tell you. It goes along with yesterday's story in finding the vintage stuffed toy patterns from my grandmother.
This experience has me pondering even more the question of whether we have inherited our fore bearers love of handiwork through our DNA.
When I was a newlywed we lived in married student housing while my husband was in graduate school. The woman who lived directly below me did cross stitch. I had never seen this handiwork before and I was completely taken in. I felt compelled to start a project that very day.

I did several simple things at first, but then discovered patterns that copied antique Samplers
For years that is all I wanted to work on.

I made Sampler after Sampler after Sampler. I studied the history of the making of samplers, and even taught classes about the art.

For some reason, working on these brought peace to my soul.
Many hung in my entry way going up the stairs of my last home.

These are just a few that I worked on.

My mother lived quite simply in a one bedroom apartment, and didn't have much in way of material things. She had a difficult life and there were many stories of her past that she did not share. Other than pictures, I have very few of her things.
After her passing, I opened a box and found this antique sampler folded in tissue paper.
I immediately recognized the name of one of my ancestors born in the 1800's.
My mother had carefully kept a Sampler from one of our family members made in 1854.
You can imagine my surprise in discovering how much Ellen Tracy and I had in common.

Wanting to preserve Ellen's work appropriately, I took the piece to a curator who worked at framing art for historical sites here in the state of Utah.
He archivally preserved the piece in a hand carved frame, dyed only with natural products as the pioneers would have done.
In another box I found these 5 pieces, with a small note on the quilt piece. It said "made in the day of George Washington". This is my only clue, other than I know the sewing kit, gloves, collar and fan were handed down through the family.

I also had them archivally framed to help preserve the pieces.
So what do you think? Do you think you might have inherited the love of quilting from an ancestor just the way you inherited your blue eyes or curly hair?
Have any of you discovered the same about yourself?
I'd love to hear your perspective.


Bethany said...

The samplers are stunning. I was looking at some kits online earlier this morning and awed by what is out there. Thanks for sharing.

Jocelyn said...

Wow what a find! Such a family treasure. My mother did not sew, but she would crochet. I never learned how to crochet, but my daughter has picked it up and has been working like crazy since she started. I have many of the crochet pieces that my mother made. They are very special to me since she passed away before our children were born. They will be passed down to my three children one day. Thanks for sharing about the samplers. I started on one many years ago, but some how miss counted on the border and I've never been able to complete it :-(

amy smart said...

These are SO cool, Nedra! Have you seen the quilt or book about the SLC 14th Ward Album quilt from 1857? Fascinating. Well I opened that book and discovered two of my ancestors in there! I was so excited!! I saw the quilt in person once and it was such a thrill to look at their blocks. So exciting to look at something they made with their own hands! Their work was amazing. Something I could never replicate.

Janet said...

I loved this post, the samplers are wonderful but to have those pieces framed is just fantastic. I wouldn't know where my sewing genes have come from but yours is a wonderful connection.

Sherri said...

I'm so glad you blogged about those samplers...they are amazing...both yours and the one from 1854. I definitely think we inherit our love of the needle arts and quilting from somewhere in our family tree!!!

Abby and Stephanie said...

Beautiful how you preserved your treasures and can view them each day instead of them hiding in a box. Your stitchery is gorgeous.

Eileen said...

I love it that you had these precious things framed in archives. Wonderful!

But yes. I agree with you that some things are just naturally inherited. I do see many similarities in my choices of style when I look back at both of my grandmother's work, and I never knew either of them.

flora said...

My answer is yes! And I have heard the handwork/sewing gene skips every other generation, passed from grandmothers to grand daughters. Makes sense to me. Loved your sampler blog!

Dawn said...

I am so happy you shared your stunning samplers with blog-land! They are even more beautiful in person..and the stories that go with them are priceless!

Material Mary said...

Absolutely. My grandmothers were prolific quilters. My great grandmother pieced over 200 quilts in her lifetime with the template method (pre-rotary cutters) Their piecing methods were old and in my opinion much harder than now-a- days. But in retrospect, I was born loving fabric. I cannot remember a time when I didn't love it pieces. Love the samplers. My mother has framed a sampler from someone in our English ancestry. Fascinating. Mary

Ruth said...

I love your treasures. It boggles the mind that your mother kept that sampler hidden away for so long. My MIL had a quilt hidden away also and now I have it - it is a wonderful family heirloom. I'm sure there are traits that we inherit from our ancestors..

Nanette Merrill said...

Hey I've seen some of that stuff in person! I'm privileged to say. Lovely keepsakes all of them. And think of what you are creating for generations after you. Well look at talent like singing and athletics - that is in the DNA so why not textiles and stitching?

Sandra said...

Did you know that the item next to the little pieced quilt top is called a huswif or housewife, an early pocket subsitute.

Anonymous said...

With regards to the current samplers you made what kind of fabric did you use?

Unknown said...

your story is really fascinating, the pieces you found are just gorgeous, the frame is beautiful, so simple and real.
my mother's aunt loved to embroider, since I was a child every time I went to visit her with my mother she was always busy embroidering something, I was immediately fascinated by her embroideries and so I wanted to try, with the assistance of my grandmother I started to embroider, she did not like to embroider much but she loved to sew clothes, so I also learned to sew, so I would say yes, you have certain things in your DNA, for example the PATIENCE and TENACITY to complete a job and the surprise of seeing that you have already succeeded the first time. I am convinced of this because my mother also loved doing this kind of work

Unknown said...

could you share the cross stitch pattern from the first photo? it's so beautiful!