Stitch a Sampler
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“Stitch a Sampler,” Liahona, June 1998, 11

Stitch a Sampler

When pioneer women and girls crossed the plains to settle in the western United States, they brought with them their knowledge of homemaking skills and crafts. Many of them were converts from Britain, Scandinavia, and Europe. Traditional needlework was one of the skills they carried with them.

Learning to use a needle and thread to stitch unique designs on small pieces of cloth was often part of a young girl’s upbringing. In this way, mothers, grandmothers, and schoolteachers taught girls the art of needlework. While the girls were learning different stitches, they also learned numbers and letters by stitching and reciting them. These pieces of creative stitching were called samplers.

Stitchers often sewed a favorite saying, quotation, verse, or scripture onto their samplers. Some samplers were decorated with images of birds, animals, trees, fruits, flowers, temples, schools, or houses. The beehive as well as the likenesses of Church Presidents and other leaders were favorite pioneer designs.

After deciding on a design, the stitcher drew it on cloth with a pencil or pen. Then she began sewing, frequently using cross-stitches, as well as outline, stem, satin, and chain stitches. Quite often the stitcher would include her name, age, and the date the sampler was finished.

Today, many people are discovering that the skills and crafts of their ancestors are an enjoyable pastime. You might like to join them and make a sampler yourself.


To make a sampler like the one below, you will need masking tape, a 20 cm x 28 cm or larger piece of muslin, a dark lead pencil, an embroidery hoop, a tapestry needle, scissors, and green, brown, gold, and dark blue embroidery floss.

Carefully remove page 13 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 the pattern from the window. Choose one of the designs from page 12 to stitch into the center of your sampler or use the alphabet pattern on page 11. Cut out the design and tape it in place behind the muslin. Trace the design into the center of the design already on your fabric. 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? Find a spot that looks interesting and attach an embroidery hoop around it. Cut the floss into 46 cm lengths and thread your needle with three strands of floss. Make a knot in your thread to begin and end. Refer to page 13 for stitch and color instructions.

Stitches to Use



  • Tree and branches: brown

  • Fence: black

  • Apple outline: red

  • Apple stem: green

  • Birds: black


  • Inside of tree trunk: brown

French Knots

  • Inside of Apples: red

  • Bodies of birds: black

Lazy-Daisy Stitches

  • Leaves on tree and apples: green



  • Windows, door, steps, sidewalk: black

  • Roof outline: black

  • Outline of house: red

  • Chimney: blue

  • Rocks around the bottom: gray


  • Roof: brown

French Knots

  • Doorknob: black



  • Bees: gold

  • Beehive: gold

  • Outline of the beehive entrance: brown

  • Stem between the leaves: brown

  • Numbers and alphabet: dark blue

  • 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

Ann Eckford, a young girl from England, cross-stitched this sampler of the Nauvoo Temple sometime between 1846 and 1849. (Sampler courtesy of Museum of Church History and Art.)

Samplers by Saundra White. (Photography by Tamra Hamblin.)