Mary Eliza McMillan 1869 ~ A Little Gem


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This delightful sampler is brought to you as the fourth in a series of “Little Gems” that are available in this time of global crisis as a .pdf download by Hands Across the Sea Samplers.

Mary Eliza McMillan has been in Nicola’s private collection for some time and has been whispering in her ear to be reproduced. Now, as we hunker down in isolation and time has lost any meaning, it seemed the right moment to do so.

Rather than a carefully planned symmetrical sampler, Mary’s needlework is very much a one-off example of a young child’s nonsensical art. Very similar to the scraps of crinkled, paint-smudged paper that can be found in countless homes today proudly displayed on fridge doors.

We suspect that Mary was a very young child, possibly between the age of seven and ten. She loved bright colours, birds and dogs. Children do not strive for realistic depiction in their drawings, they tend to scatter objects in awkward places. They might draw a house on the left corner of the page and then, as Mary did, a water jug next to the house hanging in mid-air. What is most important to remember is that children’s art has its own logic.

There is often a variety of wisdom and information to be found on samplers. Some samplers convey a message, others knowledge. Samplers illuminate the lives of their makers when they document moral issues, family histories, personal experiences, and national events.

Following in the footsteps of those young girls (and boys) from centuries past, Nicola added an extra 12 rows to the reproduction, so that she could record a moment in time in her needlework. Therefore, there are two different versions of Mary Eliza McMillan, the true reproduction and Nicola’s adaptation.

The four graphs included in the download are:

Graph 1 ~ With an added dedication as per the model, a six-page colour symbol graph.

Graph 2 ~ With an added dedication as per the model, a six-page black and white symbol graph.

Graph 3 ~ The reproduction, a six-page colour symbol graph.

Graph 4 ~ The reproduction, a six-page black and white symbol graph.

The sampler is stitched entirely in cross stitch over two and can be stitched on linen or Aida. Mary is suitable for needleworkers of all abilities and would make an ideal “starter” project for those wishing to explore samplers.

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.


Guest checkout ~ Upon completion of purchase you will instantly receive an email confirming your order and giving you a link to download the .pdf. It is important that you ensure the correct email address is given. If the email is not received into your in-box please check your spam folder. You may find it easier to registered as a user on our website as you will then be able to visit your account to download the .pdf directly to your PC.

Thread Legend

Mary’s playful sampler has been reproduced with a palette of 14 colours from Au Ver à Soie’s range of Soie 100.3. We have provided conversions for Soie d’Alger and DMC. Only one spool or skein of each colour is required for 30ct and higher. However, if you are stitching the sampler on 28ct and lower two skeins of 523/370 will be needed.

Mary stitched her sampler with cross stitch over 2 strands of linen. The project can be stitched either on Aida or linen. We would recommend a fabric close in colour to DMC shades 842 and 3033. You may wish to consider Legacy Linen Pecan Shortbread in 30ct or Zweigart Mocha and Lakeside Linen Vintage Pecan Butter in various counts. The threads have been laid out on Legacy Linen Corn Tassel in the photograph below.

Soie 100.3        Soie d’Alger    DMC          Colour Description

 022                      523                        370              Mustard ~ medium

029                      2757                       926              Grey green ~ medium

093                      4611                        3064           Desert sand

115                        3414                       451              Shell grey ~ dark

124                        4633                      316              Antique mauve ~ medium

149                        4224                      3821           Straw

197                        3423                       522            Fern green

199                        2143                       733             Olive green ~ medium

224                        3822                      738            Tan ~ very light

523                        4623                      3831          Raspberry ~ dark

561                         3343                      648           Beaver grey ~ light

647                        2125                       580           Moss green ~ dark

702                        4545                      434           Brown ~ light

773                         3445                      3799        Pewter grey ~ very dark



For the adaptation the design area is 233 stitches (w) x 142 stitches (h). Our calculations have included a 3″ margin for finishing and framing.

28ct: Design: 16.64″ x 10.14″ Fabric: 22.64″ x 16.14″

30ct: Design: 15.53″ x 9.47″ Fabric: 21.53″ x 15.47″

32ct: Design: 14.56″ x 8.88″ Fabric: 20.56″ x 14.88″

36ct: Design: 12.94″ x 7.89″ Fabric: 18.94″ x 13.89″

40ct: Design: 11.65″ x 7.10″ Fabric: 17.65″ x 13.10″

46ct: Design: 10.13″ x 6.17″ Fabric: 16.13″ x 12.17″

56ct: Design: 8.32″ x 5.07″ Fabric: 14.32″ x 11.07″


For the reproduction the design area is 233 stitches (w) x 130 stitches (h). Our calculations have included a 3″ margin for finishing and framing.

28ct: Design: 16.64″ x 9.29″ Fabric: 22.64″ x 15.29″

30ct: Design: 15.53″ x 8.67″ Fabric: 21.53″ x 14.67″

32ct: Design: 14.56″ x 8.13″ Fabric: 20.56″ x 14.13″

36ct: Design: 12.94″ x 7.22″ Fabric: 18.94″ x 13.22″

40ct: Design: 11.65″ x 6.50″ Fabric: 17.65″ x 12.50″

46ct: Design: 10.13″ x 5.65″ Fabric: 16.13″ x 11.65″

56ct: Design: 8.32″ x 4.64″ Fabric: 14.32″ x 10.64″

56ct: Design: 7.04″ x 6.18″ Fabric: 13.04″ x 12.18″

Stitch Guide

The project has been rated as suitable for needleworkers of all levels of ability. The stitches used are cross stitch over two threads of linen.

Cross stitch ~ When working cross stitch the top stitch should always lie in the same direction for a neat and uniform finish.


Hands Across the Sea Samplers are on hand to help those stitching our charts. If you need assistance or have any questions we can be reached via email, address shown below, or the contact page on our website. Our website has stitching tutorials which can be found in the “sewing basket/tools” section.




There is a small correction to the chart at column 82, row 68. The correct symbol is shown in the photograph below. We apologise for any inconvenience.