Cross-stitching, like any other type of hobby, has its own evolution and progress throughout history. When you think of the history of cross-stitching, the image of young girls in the middle age being yelled at by their nannies about how their stitches are uneven may pop up in your head. Here are 7 fun facts about the history of cross-stitching that may actually surprise you!
1- Traces of cross stitch have been found on cloth fragments dating all the way back to the 6th century
Not only did cross-stitch exist long before the Middle Ages, but traces have been found in China, India well before it even arrived to Europe. One of the earliest samplers, which has been discovered in Egypt, dates from the 6th Century. Traces of needlework with half stitches were found on pieces of cloth dating to 3000-5000 BC!
2- Cross-Stitching has always been a global phenomenon
Cross-stitching spread around the world the way anything else did, by commerce routes, migrations, invasions, etc… It is one of those hobbies that, once discovered and learned, would be incorporated into the tradition and culture of that place. From China, India and Egypt all the way to the Mediterranean, Spain and then Northern Europe, it’s a hobby that traveled the world!
3- It crossed social class boundaries throughout history
While cross-stitching was mainly practiced in rural areas at first, with time, it integrated the culture of the wealthy and upper-class during the middle ages. Having cross-stitch ornaments at home at the time became a sign of wealth, nobility and social status. Even Catherine of Aragon used to stitch onto the King’s shirts herself!
4- Pattern books have been around for longer than you’d think
In this day and age, we have the ability to get whatever pattern we want in a few minutes. Pattern books have been around since at least the 17th century and consisted of black dots on the page. The choice of colors was left to the stitcher.
5- Samplers were also used in the education of young women
Historically, young girls and women were taught how to cross-stitch and do needlework. In a “two-bird-one-stone” way, the samplers they were given often contained moral values and Bible verses.
6- Modern-day cross-stitching emerged in the US in the 60s
With women not joining the workforce, they had to find a hobby after finishing their daily chores. With the industrial age and mass-production of patterns, the choice and availability of designs largely increased.
7- Cross-stitching is getting its comeback!
A lot of people still believe needlework and embroidery to be their grandmother’s old hobby. However, cross-stitch is having a comeback among the younger age range! With sites like Pinterest emerging (don’t forget to give us a follow there!), the interest in homecraft has increased and with it, the reintroduction of cross-stitching.
There you go! Hope you enjoyed these fun facts and learned something new! Do you know of any more fun facts about the history of cross-stitching? Then, share them in the comment section below!