It was vitally important back in the Victorian times for girls to learn to sew. It was very much part of the curriculum and was taught because if you could sew well, then you could possibly be able to get a job. One of the best jobs it was thought then was going into service and if you went into a very large household then there was always mending to do and this was thought a really great job for a young girl to get.
At school not only did they produce samplers to learn their letters and numbers but they also were taught invisible mending, smocking, and all sorts of stitches. They normally had a book that all the samples were put in, to see their progress. If you can get hold of one of these today they are very sort after and expensive. Can you imagine the faces of the young ladies who produced them hundreds of years ago! The amusement and disbelief at how much money these can fetch would have fed their entire family for years.....
In some schools each year a new book was started and the same stitches were taught again to see the improvement in the young ladies stitching skills. These would have been shown to a prospective employer at the time. In addition I believe some of the house keepers at large estate houses would visit schools to ask about which girls were the best at their stitching work.
I was watching one on Ebay last week and it started off at £4.99 and finally sold for over £70. I would love to find one myself and it will be on the list to look for in America. Where we are going is around New Hampshire and New England on the Antique trail and of course there were English settlers there from 1600 onwards so I may be lucky in my find.
I myself keep something like it. I do tiny bits of samples in my work to practice a stitch or applique or indeed to practice something. They are actually all in folder with a list of what I have done and dates but I think I need to transfer them into a book as well. You never know when I am long gone someone might well find it in a junk shop and treasure it too.....
It was not only stitching that the young girls did this with at schools but with crochet and lace making as well. My passion though is the stitchery ones and it seems these are the most popular of all!
I am watching another on Ebay and there are some which are in America as well so I am very very interested as to what I might find there. The settlers came into a place called Strawberry Banke in New Hampshire and it is one of the places that I will be visiting when I am there. It is in the town of Portsmouth ( yes most of New Hampshire and New England have our names) there is also Southampton and others which you will see in my blogs along the way and a few blogs when I return with lots of photos for you all to look at.
In the meantime I will continue with my day and try to sort some more bits out for holiday and some hand stitchery which I can not wait to sit and do.
Have a great day yourself and as always Happy Stitching!