Sampler Your Way: Using Sampler Creation to Acquire and Demonstrate Skills


Have you ever wanted to make a sampler?


For some reason they excite me. I mean, you have this demonstration of all the needlework stitches you can make all in one place ~ and it’s pretty enough to hang on your wall (I think it somehow satisfies my inner need for abundance, order, and accomplishment all in one package!).


This post was originally published in 2014. I’ve updated it and added to it in honor of The Hope Chest’s “relaunch” after a prolonged “illness” and months of “rehab”.


Don’t do embroidery? Don’t leave. That’s not what this post is about!

There’s no need to restrict the concept of a sampler to the traditional needlework sampler. No matter what your skills are, use a sampler to demonstrate those skills (and to give you the push you need to actually develop those skills too!).


I think of a sampler as a usable item that demonstrates a set of skills all in one place. It might be a:

  • Piece of artwork (like an embroidery sampler to hang on your wall).
  • A useful object (like a knitted blanket).
  • Or a references guide (like a pretty book of all the embroidery stitches you’ve learned to make).


Why are you emphasizing embroidery? This is not supposed to be about embroidery! I guess because embroidery is a good, understandable example (if you are interested in embroidery, take a look at the embroidery resources page).

You could also, of course, stretch the concept of a sampler a bit (a lot) more. More on that later.


If, in your quest to prepare to be an excellent wife, mother, and homemaker, you plan to develop creative skills, you can “sampler your way” through that process, creating tangible products to serve as “milemarkers” along the way. So much more satisfying than simply checking something off a list (although if you’re the list type, of course you can do that too)!


I would love to do this myself, actually, but a bunch of stuff (mostly chronic mystery health issues) keep getting in the way. I am, however, full of ideas. Untested. Don’t hold it against me. They have potential. 🙂


Sampler Your Way: Using Sampler Creation to Develop and Demonstrate Skills




So, How Does “Sampler Your Way” Work?

In order to narrow down the concept to something more concrete and less fluffy, I’ve created four guiding principles  (obviously, you can adjust them if you want to).


Principle #1

The skill should relate to being an excellent wife, mother, or homemaker. That’s pretty flexible, really, because there’s a lot of diversity in the ways women fulfill these roles. Don’t just “sampler your way,” sampler your way. Almost any creative skill could fit into this somewhere. However, in the interest of the purpose of The Hope Chest, I suggest focusing first on skills that are central to your wifey, mothery, homemakery goals (whatever they may be).


Principle #2

A sampler is creative in nature. You must make something using your skill.


Principle #3

The primary type of sampler uses skills such as sewing, knitting, and embroidery to create a finished product that is usable and permanent.


By usable, I mean:

  • For some practical use (such as a quilt, which provides warmth).
  • For an artistic/decorative use (such as wall art).
  • For future reference (such as a hand sewing stitch sample book).


By permanent, I mean:

  • You keep it, either for immediate use or for your hope chest.
  • It isn’t consumable or quickly worn out. It will last for years—I’d say a decade, at least (that may include the time it spends in your hope chest).


Principle #4

A secondary type of sampler is an extension of truer samples and uses skills such as cooking, music, or flower arranging (or, in some cases, the same skills as above) to create a sample of skills that is usable or observable, and temporary in nature. This is what I mean by “stretching” the concept.


By usable or observable I mean:

The finished “product” may be useful or merely for demonstration purposes (like a meal or a tablescape)


By temporary, I mean:

  • It’s consumable or quickly worn out . . .
  • Or it’s an active demonstration or event . . .
  • Or it’s intended for display and observation only . . .
  • Or, it may be something that could be considered permanent that you are not keeping (such as a quilt you make and give away).


In order to make it a permanent demonstration of your skill, you must make a record of it (i.e. photographs).

Fair enough?


How about it? What will you create?


I hope I’ve inspired you. I hope you inspire me in return because I really want to get to work but I’m slightly (greatly) lacking in umph!


Coming up next: Sampler Your Way—Skills to Consider



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  1. What a neat idea! I do a lot of swatches now that I’m learning new knitting stitches. That means I have a lot of weirdly shaped pot holders now! 🙂 I’m popping over from Blogging By Grace community. 🙂

    1. I remember making weirdly shaped things when I was first learning to crochet, so I can imagine! That’s a good use for swatches. 🙂

      Thanks for popping over!

  2. I have to do samplers of sorts for the TKGA knitting classes I am taking. Maybe when it’s all over I can make a blanket out of them somehow. Could be interesting. 🙂

    1. That sounds like a good idea!

      Thanks for stopping by.

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