Elizabeth Charlotte Cotton 1753


Add to Wishlist
Add to Wishlist

This beautiful band sampler from the collection of Nicola Parkman of Hands Across the Sea Samplers, was originally reproduced by her as a workshop project exclusively for The Attic Needlework’s 2019 Sampler Symposium. Now you can stitch Elizabeth’s sampler and take the workshop online.


Elizabeth Charlotte Cotton 1753



This edition of her booklet has been published specifically for The Attic Needlework’s 2020 Stitch-a-Long. For more details of the Stitch-A-Long please visit The Attic Needlework’s latest newsletter. The Stitch-a-Long will be lead by Robert Harris who will post details of his progress each month. Please join us and share your progress too. Copies of the special edition of the booklet and the online workshop are available only through ourselves or The Attic Needleworks who also have kits with various options for counts of linens, silks and DMC. 



Elizabeth tells us that she finished her sampler “in the eleventh year of her age 1753”. She diligently plied her needle laying reversible cross (marking) stitches, cross stitches over one thread, satin stitches, Montenegrin stitches, double back stitches, stem stitches and eyelets. There is an online tutorial available to purchase either through The Attic Needleworks or hands-across-the-sea-samplers.com. The seven “how-to” videos demonstrate the stitches needed to complete the sampler. Click HERE to purchase the online tutorial. If preferred the sampler could be stitched with cross stitch replacing the reversible cross (marking) and Montenegrin stitches.

John Ruskin wrote that “the purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love colour the most”. Elizabeth certainly loved colour and the reverse of her sampler pops with the mouth-watering and intense colours that the early Georgians were so fond of. Reds, golds, and yellows were all the rage, but achieving such colours for silk was complex, time consuming and expensive.

Whilst referencing the colours on the reverse, Elizabeth’s sampler has been reproduced using the colours found on the front of the sampler today. The fifteen colours include garnet, rose, terracotta, peach, grey green, soft gold, yellow and celadon green. A most delicious palette to stitch with!

Elizabeth’s sampler has whispers of Dorcas Haynes 1720 (the collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum), Grace Catlin 1719 (the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum), Martha Haynes 1704 (the Marcus Huish Collection), When Thou Art Rich (formerly in the collection of Nicola Parkman and now in the collection of Jean Lea) and the stunning Mary Wills (the collection of Nicola Parkman). These samplers are known to have been stitched by Quakers. However, we can find no record indicating that Elizabeth was a Quaker. It is possible that her needlework teacher was of that faith. The two bands of repeating medallions speak so loudly of Quaker needlework.

Our research shows that Elizabeth was born on November 11th, 1742 and was baptised at the Anglican church of St. Mary Magdalene in Bermondsey, London three days later on the 14th, a Wednesday. Her parents were James and Elizabeth Cotton. She had two siblings, a sister Martha and a brother unusually named Smallbones Cotton. Smallbones was her mother’s maiden name. Both her parents came from a long line of Londoners. More family history information is included with Elizabeth’s booklet.

Elizabeth Charlotte Cotton, the daughter, wife and mother of many, has faded away through the passing of time but some 256 years after finishing her sampler, she is now very much in our thoughts all because of the diligence she demonstrated with her needle. Her beautiful band sampler stitched as a child is all that remains to mark her footprint in time.

With our grateful thanks to Bhooma Aravamudan who lovingly stitched the model for the Sampler Symposium. At the very core of Hands Across the Sea Samplers there is a team of needleworkers who are passionate about antique samplers and being able to share those samplers with you.

Thread Legend

Elizabeth Charlotte Cotton’s beautiful sampler has been reproduced with Au Ver à Soie silks from their d’Alger range and the skein quantities calculated based on 1 strand on 36ct fabric. We have provided a conversion for DMC based on 2 strands on 36ct fabric. The model was stitched using the mellowed colours found today on the front of the original sampler. The colour of Legacy Linen’s 37ct Wild Honey is an excellent choice of fabric for the sampler.
Soie d’Alger / DMC ~ Colour Description
F10 x 1 / 739 x 1  - Tan ~ ultra very light F18 x 1 / 422x 1 - Hazel nut brown ~ light 121 x 1 / 928 x 1 - Grey green ~ very light 1745 x 1 / 3768 x 1 - Grey green ~ dark 1845 x 2 / 501 x 2 - Blue green - dark 2532 x 2 / 3821 x 2 - Straw ** 2646 x 1 / 814 x 1 - Garnet ~ dark ** 2911 x 1 / 945 x 1 - Tawny ~ medium 2912 x 1 / 3779 x 1 - Terra cotta – ultra very light 3424 x 1/  3363 x 1 - Pine green ~ medium 3714 x 1 / 3053 x 1 - Green grey 4244 x 1 / 680 x 1 - Old gold ~ dark 4611 x 1 / 3778 x 1 - Terracotta ~ light 4623 x 1/  3831 x 1 - Raspberry ~ dark 5382 x 1 / 927 x 1 - Grey green ~ light
** If stitching on 46ct we would recommend using Au Ver à Soie 100/3 for cross stitches over 1 thread.
The design area is 352 stitches (w) x 303 stitches (h). Our calculations have included a 3” margin for finishing and framing.
28ct: Design: 25.14" x 21.64" Fabric: 31.14" x 27.64" 30ct: Design: 23.47" x 20.20" Fabric: 29.47" x 26.20" 32ct: Design: 22" x 18.94" Fabric: 28" x 24.94" 36ct: Design: Design: 19.56" x 16.83" Fabric: 25.56" x 22.83" 40ct: Design: Design: 17.6" x 15.15" Fabric: 23.6" x 21.15" 46ct: Design: 15.30" x 13.17" Fabric: 21.30" x 19.17"

Stitch Guide

The stitches used are cross stitch over 1 thread, double backstitch, eyelet stitch, Montenegrin stitch, reversible cross stitch (marking stitch), satin stitch and stem stitch. The sampler is rated as suitable for intermediate and advanced needleworkers. However, with the aid of the online workshop the sampler is also suitable for confident beginners wishing to explore and expand their repertoire.
The online workshop can be purchased HERE

Cross Stitch over 1 thread ~ Many stitchers are deterred from working cross stitch over one. It is the same stitch are cross stitch over 2. It takes no more effort, it is made up of the same two diagonal stitches. You have to be careful not to pull the thread through the intersection of the woven linen threads. The warp and weft fibres are not “interlocked” at intersections; they simply pass over and under one  another. As a result, when stitching over one thread, some stitches can slip and disappear. Lay your stitches away from the direction you are working. This prevents the thread slipping through the intersections.

Double Back Stitch ~ Elizabeth used this stitch to lay dividing rows to separate the bands in her sampler. This was a very popular stitch and can be found in numerous English band samplers. It is known as crossed back stitch. On one side the stitch produces a double row of back stitches worked simultaneously along two lines. On the other side closed herringbone stitch or plait stitch.

Eyelets ~ this stitch is similar to Algerian eyelet but it is heavier. When stitched over 6 threads as Elizabeth did it has more impact. There is one stitch laid to every thread so when stitched over 6 threads there are 24 stitches laid to create an eyelet.

Montenegrin Stitch ~ is also known as two-sided Montenegrin stitch. It is very similar to long armed cross stitch with the addition of upright stitches at intervals. Although not a mirror image on the back the stitch is reversible and is a very pretty textured stitch front and back.
Elizabeth worked this stitch in horizontal rows to divide some of the bands on her sampler. You can start this stitch with an away waste knot or a pin stitch. At the end of the row do not forget the compensating stitches (shown in red on the above diagram).

Reversible Cross Stitch ~ is also known as marking stitch, sampler stitch and double sided cross. There are various ways of working a reversible cross stitch with the aim of making the stitch perfect on both sides. Elizabeth used a method that produced a cross stitch to the front and back of the fabric and a vertical stitch to the side on the front of the fabric. When turning corners, as Elizabeth found, there will be occasions when there are vertical and horizontal lines on the back of your fabric.
When working a marking stitch there are no set rules as to the way we work, each letter and motif will call for a different path. It may be necessary to cover a leg of a stitch more than once in moving from one stitch to another. It may also be necessary to weave your thread under stitches already laid to move around a motif or a letter. You might find it useful to move your hoop and frame around as you work so that you are always working in the same direction and orientation.

Satin Stitch ~ is also known as flat stitch and can be worked horizontally, vertically or diagonally. Straight stitches should be laid side by side so that no ground fabric shows through. The art of satin stitching lies in making the stitches sit evenly and close together.To ensure a smooth glossy surface discard threads that show any sign of fraying or fluffing up.

Stem Stitch ~  Stem stitch consists of one long stitch forward and a short stitch back. When working from left to right the thread should be kept below the needle and when working for right to left above the needle. This is important to create a rope like effect.