Date: 4/13/2008
Time: 1:30-4:00
Type: Meeting
Location: Glen Ellyn Library
Teacher: LMSG-Carol Schaal

White linen on linen embroidery was used extensively throughout Europe to decorate church and household items, sheets, and underclothes. Some early 16th century samplers were silk on linen but the majority from the 17th century were plain white linen on linen and were used to advertise and exchange patterns of cutwork, drawn and pulled work, needlepoint, and other embroidery stitches. Depending on the country whitework had various styles and textures—German Dresden or Schwalm work, Italian cutwork, Danish Hedebo, Norwegian Hardanger, Scotland Ayreshire, Irish Mount-mellick, Ukranian Folk Art.

Members are asked to bring pieces of whitework for display. These can be antique pieces, ones you have stitched or works in progress.

A small project (free to members) using four basic whitework stitches will be presented. This creates a 2-inch square design that self finishes into an ornament or scissors fob. (Having a 5-inch hoop or small q-snap would be helpful.)


Katie Simmer welcomed everyone to our April meeting. Thanks to Carol Schaal, we had an excellent program on whitework. Carol put this program together on short notice after she found out that, in spite of much planning and effort, Carol Humphrey would not be able to visit us this year. We hope that she will be able to make the trip some time in the future.

Katie reminded everyone that our meeting is early next month because of Mother’s Day. It will be held on May 4th and the topic will be Fibers Used in Samplers, presented by Carol Schaal. In June, there will be an English Band Sampler workshop presented by Tricia Wilson Nguyen. If you are interested in attending, you must register and pay for the kit, which is $110, by the next meeting (May 4th). Please send your workshop registration form and kit fee to Carol Schaal. Note that the workshop and June meeting will be held at a diffent location in Wheaton because the library is closed on Sundays during the summer. Directions will be available on this website in the near future. There is a kitchen available at the workshop location, so you can bring your lunch along if you wish.

Before the program, we had several items for show and tell. Mary Ann Anderson brought in three samplers that she finished. Lynn McVey brought in a sampler titled “Birds of a Feather” that she stitched to hang in her kitchen.

The meeting was turned over to Carol Schaal for our program on whitework She and some of our other members brought samples of different types of whitework. They were displayed on a table at the front of the room so we could all take a close look at them.

Carol explained that whitework is known by different names including white on white and tone on tone. Stitching was usually done with fibers of the same color but of various thicknesses. Whitework was done in many different countries and the location where it was stitched determined the style. Whitework was sometimes done by people who could not afford lace. A loose fabric was used and theads were pulled to create lace-like patterns. Whitework is also know as “poor man’s lace”. It is frequently done in combination with other types of stitching. Carol showed us many different types of whitework pieces from her own collection, from a large tablecloth to a small hankerchief.

Carol told us about famous pieces of whitework. In 1669, Martha Edlin stitched a whitework sampler at the age of 9. It is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The most famous whitework collection was stitched by Lady Evelyn Stewart Murray on 80-120 count material. The fabric was so fine and sheer, it was impossible to count. Carol showed us pictures of Lady Edlin’s collection in one of her books.

At the end of the program, Carol distributed a whitework ornament kit. The kit contained everthing we needed to finish the ornament including the linen, perle cotton, skirtex and instructions. We each tried our hand at the whitework stitches, as Carol went around the room to assist those who needed help.

Thanks to Carol, we had an excellent program that increased our knowledge and appreciation of whitework. Don’t forget that our next meeting is on the first Sunday in May, the 4th. We hope you can join us for a program presented by Carol Schaal on Fibers Used in Samplers.