Loara Standish – 1653 – The first American-made sampler

“Cross Stitch is the oldest forms of embroidery and can be found all over the world” – Wikipedia.


From the Pilgrim Hall Museum –  The first American-made sampler is that embroidered by Loara Standish.  Loara was the daughter of Mayflower passenger Myles Standish and Barbara Standish. One of seven children, Loara was born sometime after 1627 and grew up with her family in Duxbury, in Plymouth Colony, across the harbor from the original Plymouth settlement.

Plymouth Colony was a young community. In 1627, there were 60 children and teenagers. Some of these children were being taught by Mrs. Margaret Hicks, but no record of a formal school survives. We do not know who taught Loara her alphabet or her embroidery. We do know, from the quality of her sampler, that she was taught by a needlewoman of considerable ability, perhaps her mother, perhaps a neighbor.

A legend says that Loara stitched the sampler while sitting in the doorway awaiting the return of a lover, lost at sea. The lover is undoubtedly the result of a later highly romantic imagination, but the doorway rings true. In the 17th century, needleworkers depended on natural light to produce fine handwork – windows were few and small and houses were very dark.

Loara Standish died before her father Myles. He made a formal request in his will, written in March of 1655/56, to be buried beside her:

if I Die att Duxburrow my body to bee layed as neare as Conveniently may bee to my  two Daughters Lora Standish my Daughter and Mary Standish my Daughter in law…

Loara’s sampler went to her brother Josiah and descended in his family until its 1844 donation to Pilgrim Hall Museum.

The sampler is long and narrow, measuring approximately 23 1/2″ high x 7 1/4″ wide. measuring approximately 23 1/2″ high x 7 1/4″ wide. It shows the first two steps in the evolution of samplers, its motifs are in bands and it has a signed verse. The verse reads:

Loara Standish is my name
Lord guide my heart that I may do thy will
Also fill my hands with such convenient skill
As may conduce to virtue void of shame
and I will give the glory to thy name

Some of the stitches that Loara used include the long-armed, Montenegrin cross-stitch, double running stitch, back stitch, Algerian eye stitch. There are many combinations of stitches which we can no longer attach to names.

Loara used stylized motifs – an acorn, a rose, a carnation, and an intertwined “s.” The sampler material is a fine linen (approximately 50 count) and it is embroidered with a diversity of silk thread. Loara’s color palette included blues, greens, pink and a now-faded red.



Loara Standish, born Aft. 05/22/1627 in of  Plymouth Colony, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, New England; died Bef.  03/07/1654-55 in about 17 years of age, of Plymouth Colony, Plymouth County,
Massachusetts, New England. – Credit


  1. I have the kit and completed it in 1992. It was DMC cotton on the linen. It’s hanging in the hall of my house away from lamps or even overhead lights. It’s not framed, but I when I hemmed it, I did so in a way to from pockets in both ends in order to slip in wood dowels. So it hangs free on the wall and sometimes I take it down to show people the back.
    It’s my first replicated sampler and since then I’ve added several others as well as a few of my own designs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.