Stitch a Sampler

Stitching a sampler is one of my favorite things to do. I am often inspired by my ancestors who crossed the plains in the mid 1800s. Their lives were filled with wonderful experiences despite great trials and tribulations. When I design and stitch a folk art sampler, I think about that time and try to view life through the eyes of a child. A young girl’s first samplers were, in those days, a way for her to learn the alphabet and new stitches. They usually consisted of an upper and lower case alphabet, the numerals 1 to 9, the date, and her name.

To make a sampler like the one here, you will need: masking tape, an 8″ x 11″ (20 cm x 28 cm) or larger piece of muslin, a dark lead pencil, an embroidery hoop, a size 26 tapestry needle, scissors, and embroidery floss—dark blue, green, brown, and gold.

Carefully remove page 45 from the magazine and tape it on a window with the pattern facing you. Center the muslin over the pattern and tape it in place. Trace the design onto the muslin, then remove both pieces from the window. If desired, write the year and your first name in small letters somewhere on the traced sampler.

Where do you start stitching? I usually find a spot that looks fun and puts a smile in my heart; then I attach an embroidery hoop around it. All stitches in the sampler are sewn with three strands of floss. Cut the floss into 18″ (46 cm) lengths. Make a knot in your thread to begin and end. Try to remember that it’s important to use small, uneven stitches, and that imperfect stitching in my folk-art method is part of the charm of these samplers. Refer to the list on page 45 for stitch and color instructions. You can refer to the back cover of the Friend too.

Stitches to Use


  • Alphabet: dark blue

  • Bees: gold

  • Outline of the beehive entrance: brown

  • Stem between the leaves: brown

  • Numbers: brown

  • Optional—your name and the year: color of your choice


  • Beehive entrance: brown

French Knots

  • Dots by the leaves: gold

Lazy-Daisy Stitches

  • Leaves: green