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Saint Martha’s Guild Sampler


Here is your chance to dive into Ecclesiastical embroidery. You have messed around with little projects, maybe a scapular or two, repairs of other stitchers’ work. Now it is high time you got serious about this and gave yourself a respectable challenge. Let’s do this.

A sampler can be either a stitcher’s doodling, the final exam for certification, or something in between, which is what this is. Ours covers many of the common motifs and techniques found in liturgical embroidery. It includes practice in silk shading, raised applique, string padding, card stock padding, figure embroidery with watercolor under painting, gold work embroidery, tambour chain stitch, long and short color graduation, basket weave fill, Or nue embroidery, metal thread halos, and small crosses. 

It is recommended that these samplers are worked on linen or silk. The Royal School of Needlework sampler featured further below is stitched on a purple damask. It is lovely. To use something like that on ours, however would pose a bit of a challenge for the Infant Jesus.


Two methods are use to embroider people. In one, watercolor is laid down first and then light stitches are added to create deeper shading, define features and to render the hair. This is significantly faster than creating all of it with thread alone, and can offer more delicate shading to help execute the features nicely. One would need to do this on white linen or silk.


This embroidery of the Blessed Mother has minimal over stitching on the face and hands and fairly light fills on the clothing. The one below has very fine threads sewn over the under painting to bring a uniform texture to the figure. The embroidery isn't solid on the face and hands, but lets the subtle shading of the under painting show through.


In the other method all parts of the person, the faces and hands and clothing are stitched solidly with embroidery. This can be worked on any color background. If you want to do the water color version, and also want a darker background fabric for the rest of your sampler, you would need to cut out the finished form stitched on white linen, and applique it to the darker fabric.


 [This lovely angel is from an ecclesiastical sampler, probably stitched by a student from the Royal School of Needlework. Take a look at the rest of it in our gallery section here.]

After sorting out your ground fabric you will need to transfer the sampler line work. The prick and pounce method is described here.

And don't tell the real embroiderers, but we’ve been transferring patterns with an ink jet printer and a piece of plastic. That probably wouldn’t fly with the Royal School of Needlework but...


The PDF contains a color rendering of the infant Jesus to use as a guide for the watercolor painting and finishing stitching. it also has a black and white line version without notes for prick and pounce or tracing. There is also a reverse image in cyan for transferring via an ink jet printer.


Guild Sampler

I will link up video tutorials and resources for the methods needed to complete the sampler. Stay tuned.

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