The mini-sampler above left, excerpted from my larger Portuguese Cross-Stitch Sampler pattern shown below, offers a good example of my design process.
I was inspired by an early-17th-century booklet of needlework samples that is believed to have been compiled by a Portuguese seamstress. Small scraps of fabric featuring cross stitch, blackwork, satin stitch, drawn-thread work, and other embroidery techniques were stitched together and bound. The booklet is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and it is in the public domain.
For this sampler design, I focused on the booklet’s cross-stitch motifs. You can see two of the motifs from the original historical source above, at right. Departing from the haphazard compilation of motifs in the booklet, I chose to create an ordered, symmetrical design. In some cases I adhered closely to the historical patterns of the motifs; in other cases I adapted the patterns to suit the sampler’s overall structure and my own aesthetic sensibilities. I selected colors that reflect those used in the 17th-century source. Throughout the process, I worked to convey the feeling of the motifs that inspired me, while creating a cohesive arrangement of my own that would speak to modern stitchers.