The first section was education, and contained mostly samplers for learning the basic techniques. The sampler below was stitched by a seven-year-old. My niece is seven and I just can't imagine her having the patience for it. Mind you, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have the patience for most of the work in this exhibition. The time it must have taken to stitch them is unimaginable.
Once the students had perfected their samplers – which became ongoing references for techniques and patterns – they were allowed to move onto pictorial works such as bible covers or caskets. The designs were mostly drawn by professional designers and then stitched by the students. Being proficient in needlework was one of the criteria against which young women were judged – along with music and dancing, but it was also a means of self-expression and the designs could widen a woman's discourse beyond her domestic surrounds.