Hi there! How was your weekend? I had a chance to do a little vintage shopping, did you? We also attended a lovely wedding on Friday evening at the nearby Altamont Manor. We were honored to walk this couple through their pre-marital counseling, and were so blown away by their great communication skills and commitment to each other. Such a blessing to be a part of something so beautiful.
Speaking of beautiful (how’s that for a segue?), let’s talk about collecting cross stitch samplers–those kitschy, handmade pieces of art with quirky sayings. Do you love them as much as I do? Then you’ve come to the right place because today I have 13 to share with you. Dating to about the 1930’s to the 1960’s, their designs would have been printed directly onto linen or cotton fabric and sold in kits with embroidery thread, an embroidery hoop, and a color chart.
The one’s you’ll see today I picked up for between 50¢ to $2, and I sell them framed for $25-35, depending upon their quality and size. Considering their kitschiness, they sell quite well from my antique booth.
As an alternative to the cross stitch kits, one could also buy transfer patterns and iron them directly onto a project. Women’s magazines even gave them away as a special freebie. After finishing the sampler, the piece could be washed and the ink would “disappear.”
I’m particularly drawn to anything with a house on it or with sayings that have to do with home, like this one: Wherever you wander, wherever you roam, may you be happy and healthy and glad to be home. This example, later than all the others (1982), is especially lovely and exhibits real skill.
Over the years, interest in embroidery has ebbed and flowed. In the 1980’s interest in counted cross stitch rose and continues to be very popular. This sampler is an example of that style of cross stitch.
I read in several online articles about mid-20th century handicrafts that women had more free time and so could pursue handicrafts, like cross stitch. How about she was going crazy in her suburban home with no real community, exhausted from raising children all by herself, and found a simple way to engage in something quiet and meditative that was hers alone?? Just my two cents on the matter.
Certainly in cultures across Europe, where early forms of embroidery developed, the upper classes primarily engaged in the fine art. They of course had “free” time since household duties and the raising of children were carried out by servants. Watching a Jane Austin movie, one would think it was their primary occupation.
Young girls would receive training in the textile arts and their practice pieces came to be called, “samplers,” hence the use of the word as a generic term for finished works.
Of course the quality of workmanship varies from piece to piece and artist to artist. I like to think that a young girl stitched this one; perhaps her first: Home is where the heart is; love is where the home is. It even contains some additional embroidery stitches to make the flowers, tree, and bird.
It is nonetheless graphically appealing and would benefit from a simple black frame, which is how I sell all of my samplers (framed). I wait until just the right one comes along.
Typically, as with this one, I will frame the samplers with simple black frames. I think black tends to highlight the work best. This saying, A ship is a breath of romance that carries us miles away, reflects a deeper, more lovely sentiment than most. It sold for $18 last December.
I found this cross stitch already framed; but it needed tightening, backing, and a hanger. I think the brown frame works nicely with the taupe color of the aged fabric and the muted tones of the design. This example is earlier than most of the others in the post. I’d date it to c. 1940’s. It sold a couple of years ago for $32.
Here’s another sampler about home that I framed myself with a simple vintage frame: Let me live in the house by the side of the road and be a friend of man. The line originates with one of my favorite poems, written by Sam Walter Foss.
It sold at the Shaker craft fair this past December for $25. The lettering makes me think this one is a bit on the older side as well.
This very popular saying, No matter where I serve my guests, they seem to like my kitchen best, can be found in a variety of different designs.
Here’s another with a pot belly stove and all sorts of food and livestock floating around the edges. It has turned a bit pinkish due to the red embroidery floss running, even though I soaked it in cold water. For good tips about washing vintage linens, see my friend Rita’s suggestions on her blog, Panoply.
Friendship cross stitches are also common and popular with buyers. This one is so true: Good friends are like diamonds, precious and rare.
Come dear friend, come here and rest; you’ll always be a welcome guest. Perfect for the guest room!
I removed this pretty friendship sampler from its terrifying plastic frame and replaced it with a vintage black wooden one. It improved the look dramatically. Quite large, it sold for $38.
I find this one a little sobering: Hours fly, flowers die, new days, new ways, pass by, love stays. But I like the idea that “love stays.”
I thought this one was darling and was so pleased when I found the perfect frame. Since it would likely hang in a baby’s room, the antique white with a touch of gold made more sense than a stark black frame. It took quite a while to sell, finally at $38.
My sweet husband bought me this cross stitch (cost: $27) on our overnight in Lancaster (PA) a couple of years ago. I love the sentiment and hold to it as dearly as I can: Sweet are the thoughts that savor of content; the quiet mind is richer than a crown. And just think, in a little over a decade, it’s going to be 100 years old and a true antique.
I hope you enjoyed taking a look at some of the cross stitch samplers that have crossed my path the past couple of years. Are they are your vintage buying radar? Do you have any hanging in your home?
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