LT 1909

An antique reproduction and a mini design.

When I’m especially busy (or, let’s be honest, a bit frazzled), I find I reach for monochrome stitching. Working with a single colour is particularly restful, as you can just focus on the calming repetition of thread flowing through linen. And, more often than not, it’s a redwork sampler that I reach for – those poignant samplers that schoolgirls stitched as part of their learning.

The antique original of this piece was clearly stitched by young eyes: with 25 stitches per inch, little L had impressive needlework skills. Although her lines are somewhat wonky, the charm of the piece is undeniable. It was my great pleasure to reproduce the design for you to stitch too.

The original came to me from France, although I have seen similar building motifs in Dutch samplers too: I wonder if it was her school? It doesn’t look like a home to me; I’m tempted to think that it might have been an industrial school, where little L studied while her parents worked. With the surname ‘Thevenet’, little L sounds French, although we cannot be sure where she stitched this tiny piece.

In reproducing this sampler, I was surprised to see the space between the letters once charted: on such a small scale, these seemed less obvious. In my stitch, I was intrigued and charmed by the spacing and the overall balance of the piece. The alphabets are interesting too: with the upper alphabet is common to many samplers, the middle capital letters and the bottom lower-case alphabets are unique to me, and so useful for customising your own stitching.

When looking at the antique closely, it’s clear that little L (or her teacher), pulled some horizontal threads to guide the letter placements for the upper alphabets. L was not counting threads between letters and lines, and the bottom alphabet and signature (which have no such guide lines) are quite wobbly as a result. I love these details, these personal relics of the stitcher’s hand, and they have been reproduced in full in my chart.

A brightened close-up of the drawn thread work and the guidelines in the original – they are difficult to capture, being so small & behind glass…

One detail I have changed though: little L Thevenet also stitched a beautiful line of drawn thread work at the top of her little sampler. It is almost impossibly small and would be lovely to copy if you wish. In my finish, I chose not to frame the design, but to hint at this drawn thread work by creating a border of elongated cross-stitches and a line of running stitches (in Cottage Garden Threads JK24 Page Turner; this is not charted in the design, as it is purely optional). So many of the antique samplers I see are not framed, but humbly hemmed or the edges bound in ribbon (as LT 1909 is) – I chose to honour this, and my reproduction sits on my dressing table, so I can see it every morning.

A close-up of my finish: decorative stitching and pinking the edges.

My reproduction was stitched somewhat larger (a concession to my older eyes!) on 36-count ‘Vintage Coffee’ by JaysXStitch on Etsy – a beautiful, warm brown that is similar to many of the tones of the original’s very mottled linen. And to stitch it, I used 1 strand of Cottage Garden Threads JK03 Brontë – a perfect match for the still vivid thread in the original.

I enjoyed stitching it so much that I created a little mini design using the building motif, which would be perfect to customise with your own initials, or to give as a gift. This mini is charted separately in the design, and I stitched it on 36-count ‘Iced Coffee’ by JaysXStitch, using 1 strand of Cottage Garden Threads JK02 Leather Bound.

The chart is available to order now from your favourite needlework store, and will be available in hard-copy and PDF in my Etsy store in a few weeks. You can also find the beautiful Cottage Garden Thread reds in my Etsy store, or ask your LNS to get them in for you.

I hope you find some peaceful moments enjoying the calmness of red thread gliding through your fabric when stitching your own version of this design.