Thursday, December 10

Stitched Family Heirlooms

This lot was stuffed in an old cardboard chocolate box, handed down to me from my mother's side of the family. I think, based on the initials on the samplers, it's most likely these were stitched by my great aunt Jacoba. Born in 1902 she would have been in her early teens when she made those. The labels (for organising linens) were possibly made at a later date.

Perfect stitches, as you can see, but made in difficult times. This sampler is dated 1914, the year that the First World War started. Even though the Netherlands remained neutral during the First World War, there were lots of consequences for the Dutch. Refugees from Belgium, food scarcity etc. During the First World War, the family lived in the Rotterdam area (my hometown) where towards the end of the war, housewives plundered food stocks. In 1914 Jacoba already had lost two younger sisters (at the ages of 1 and 6 months old) and, in 1917, her oldest sister as well. I wonder how my family was handling it all... We often know so little about our ancestors, even if it's just a few generations back.

The Darning Sampler sadly has some water damage but it shows that Jacoba learned how to mend things as neatly as possible.

There are lots of labels like Nachtjaponnen (Night gowns) Handdoeken (Towels) Bedlakens (Sheets) and Kussensloopen (Pillow cases) I imagine these were pinned to shelves, to indicate where the linens should go. You can even see some rusty marks on the sides of these labels.

The satin stitching on the hanky looks great but what's more amazing: the backside is so neat you can hardly tell it apart from the stitching on the front!

Hope you enjoyed this peek into my stitched family heirlooms. They may not be valuable, but learning a bit more about where these labels and samplers came from, is definitely worth a lot to me.


  1. What treasures to have! I have some pieces made by great grandparents and treasure these for their heritage as well as all the handwork.

  2. They're charming. How lucky you are to have these treasures from your family's past.

  3. What treasures to be given. The stitching of our ancestors does tell a story doesn't it? I'm so glad I found your blog! I'm going to do a little more exploring through your archives!

  4. These are lovely. I really love the linen closet labels. Bonus: I learned the word kussensloopen!

  5. These are so beautiful! Thank you for sharing them.

  6. These are great & I love seeing what they were used for & how. Thanks for sharing!


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