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Embroidery design

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1836-1854 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Bland, Sarah, born 1810 - died 1905 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pen and ink on tracing paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs D. McGregor

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H, case 95, shelf C, box 101

Design for an embroidered leaf motif border by Sarah Bland (1810-1905) about 1836-1854. The right-angled arrangement of the design suggests the corner of an apron or kerchief. This design was probably traced from a commercially available pattern from a magazine such as The Lady's Newspaper.This design is in an album which includes Bland's collection of her own botanically accurate designs, simplified patterns from accurate botanical observation, patterns traced from magazines, commercial, printed Berlin wool work patterns, gifts of patterns, including commercial ones from friends and relatives. The designs include those for petit-point, bead-work, decoration for dresses, collars and cuffs, aprons, slippers, tablecloths and covers, cushions, bags, penwipers, initial letters, alphabets etc. In Bland's case, the gift of designs demonstrates connections between relatives of merchant and banking families and is of historical significance in bonding such families.

Physical description

Pen and ink design on tracing paper for an embroidered leaf motif bordering.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


ca. 1836-1854 (made)


Bland, Sarah, born 1810 - died 1905 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Pen and ink on tracing paper


Height: 20.4 cm, Width: 25.3 cm

Object history note

Historical significance: Within the study of embroidery, men tend to be recorded as professional embroiderers or pattern drawers, whereas women worked more ambigiously with designs for embroidery. Women's amateur as opposed to professional designs for embroidery raise problems because amateur work has tended to be regarded as less significant. Embroidery was a pastime but was also an economic activity. Upper middle class women's property was closely linked to their status within the family as daughters, wives and widows and only allowed semi-independence. This semi-independence was underpinned by legal, politial, and social practices which subordinated them. Nevertheless, it was combined with recognition of their economic worth within the family enterprise. However, women were restricted as they often could not be openly involved in working for money. See L. Davidoff and C. Hall (Reference Tab). Bland could not be seen to be working but it is likely that she embroidered accessories for dress, penwipers, tablecloths, book covers, and cushions as gifts which were her contribution to the household, wider family, and friendship. The quality of her samplers and designs shows the value of such gifts in terms of relationships with family and friends.

Material about the perceptions of a woman's role is pertinent to the discourse on women and therefore gender history. In Bland's case, the gift of designs demonstrates connections between relatives of merchant and banking families and is of historical significance in bonding between such families.

Historical context note

Sarah Bland (1810-1905) was listed as a 'gentlewoman' in the 1851 census return and is not recorded as having any occupation in the census returns for 1871 and 1901 which is consistent with her social status.

Descriptive line

Pen and ink design foor a leaf motif bordering, ca. 1836-1854, by Sarah Bland (1810-1905).

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Davidoff, L. and Hall, C. Family Fortunes, Men, Women of the English Middle Class 1780-1850. Revised edition. London: Routledge, 2002, p.387.

Production Note

There are three samplers by Sarah Bland in the collection of the Textiles and Fashion Department: T.238-1967; T.239-1967 and T.240-1967.


Ink; Tracing paper



Subjects depicted

Borders; Aprons (protective wear); Kerchiefs; Leaf


Designs; Drawings; Textiles; Embroidery; Accessories; Clothing; Europeana Fashion Project

Production Type



Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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