1897 Schoolhouse Samplers

ragamuffin schoolgirl sampler patterns

I love sharing my collection and creating bespoke patterns using my collection of samplers for groups, guilds and shops!

As a Domestic Interpreter and Historic Cook at Upper Canada Village, I spend my summers interpreting and bringing history to life through presentations and demonstrations for thousands of visitors that come from around the corner, across continents or oceans to learn about life in 1866 in Upper Canada along the north front of the St. Lawrence River.

With more than 350 samplers, collected from North America, Great Britain and Europe, which cover a wide range of styles, genres, subject matter, materials, colour palettes and dated years of production from 1726 to 1978, I can offer a selection of samplers to choose from for the development of sampler pattern(s) to suit the needs and wants of your stitching community.

You can find a list of my published past, current and upcoming bespoke samplers, events, presentations and retreats here on my website.

If you are interested in working with me, please inquire if you have a particular date in mind.

I would love to work with you virtually or in person!


ragamuffin schoolgirl sampler patterns

Lianne van Leyen


LIANNE van LEYEN is a domestic interpreter and historic cook at Upper Canada Village where she specializes in historic cooking.  She prepares and serves meals and desserts using period correct recipes and methods made in an open hearth or using a step wood cook stove. She teaches children and young adults historic cooking, interprets and demonstrates Canada’s history on the eve of Confederation for visitors from around the world. 

LIANNE’s career has spanned fine arts, child protection, banking, and higher education management. She lives with her husband Grant in a one-room Ontario schoolhouse built in 1897 and owns a church built next door in the 1920s. The couple are also caretakers of three antique British vehicles. She spent years learning to paint and draw and teaching herself many different crafts, including cross stitch.

LIANNE van LEYEN is an artist and a storyteller. 

LIANNE holds incomplete, timeworn, damaged & unusual samplers as precious and deserving of love & attention. She is the caretaker of a growing collection of antique schoolgirl samplers and the designer behind 1897 Schoolhouse Samplers.  Her diverse collection of samplers, currently numbering more than 350 pieces, includes dated examples from 1726 to 1978, made in the UK, U.S.A., Europe and Canada.  

LIANNE van LEYEN shares her sampler collection and the history of needlework with local, national and international needlework and / or sampler guilds and public museums through in–person and virtual presentations, via her website 1897schoolhousesamplers.ca and through her social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram.  She leads retreats and workshops, has had her work published in PieceWork magazine and contributed to podcasts.  Lianne works to increase exposure and interest in historical textiles & needlearts within and outside the stitching community.

LIANNE sought to give new purpose to her sampler collection by creating original and reproduction cross-stitch patterns starting in 2018.  Through her company, 1897 Schoolhouse Samplers, she shares the stories of overlooked antiques and makes her cross stitch patterns available to modern stitchers for retail purchase from local and virtual needlework shops located around the world and to wholesale customers via Hoffman Distributing Company. 


ragamuffin schoolgirl sampler patterns

Lianne van Leyen

Working with Me as an Exhibiting Artist

Retreats, Presentations, Meet and Greets

Available Formats for Retreats, Presentations, Meet and Greets:

  • In-person or Virtual

  • Please contact me so that we can discuss your plans and needs by phone or email

I lead events in person or via Zoom, by the hour, or by the day, for a 7 hour teaching / at the front of the class or on a Zoom call day  

If you select Zoom, the license, group / session management and attendance is provided and administered by you / your group leadership 

If you select to do an event / presentation by Zoom, I recommend that you hold a dress and technical rehearsal for all involved from your side in the management of Zoom prior to the event, my attendance and participation is included in the cost quoted for my time by the hour or day

If you would like me to travel to work with your group in person and the location of the event / shop / venue is not located in Canada, immigration and employment laws for your country, state, province or jurisdiction will apply, must be understood and adhered to.

If you would like me to travel to work with your group in person, all related travel, mileage, airfare, lodging fees, meals, additional agreed upon expenses and additional travel days will be billed and payable at cost to you, your group, shop or Guild  

Depending upon the distance to and from my home in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada to your site, additional travel time / days may be required and will be billed based on my daily rate.  Additional travel days do not include / can't fall on the days of the retreat / presentations,  but I can be available for social events, group stitching, going out to dinner, etc.  

For in person events, I am flexible with my time outside of the 7 hour teaching / lecturing times on non-travel days to be involved in social events, group stitching and going out to dinner with participants, etc.


I invoice and accept payments in US dollars via PayPal

Effective January 1, 2024 the applicable Canadian GST / HST rate will be charged for all taxable products and services that I provide in Canada

Payment for the event is due following the completion of the event, a deposit may not required prior to the event

  • Tailored pricing options are available by the student or the hour, day or week 

  • Please contact me so that we can discuss your plans, needs and pricing by phone or email

My Presentation Style and Event Attendee Restrictions: 

I often explain that I talk, listen and respond for a living all day long, all Summer long

I can often be heard saying to visitors to my assigned historic kitchen while working as a Historic Cook at Upper Canada Village that "You are welcome to stay, if you stick around you will find out I can talk all day.  Do you have any questions for me?  If not, I can keep finding things to talk to you about / keep talking,,,  Yes, my tongue is hinged in the middle." 

Despite my ability to carry a conversation, sometimes all on my own, I much prefer the back and forth that often comes when people have a shared interest and are engaged in a two way conversation.  I can work with questions presented as part of an event or held until the end, depending upon the preference and needs of your group.

I am skilled at tailoring, limiting or expanding my presentations based on time constraints, my audience's interests and assessing and responding to varying levels of engagement from event participants

I usually try to schedule my time so that I do not have other commitments that immediately precede or follow an event or presentation.  I tend to therefore be generous with my time, so that if things run long, I am willing to keep answering questions / talking for a reasonable amount of time.  If your group has a hard stop on the length of your event or the ending time for a presentation, please let me know.

I prefer to plan themes for my presentations, have objects on hand to share and show, such as photos, samplers, print materials or other items from my collection of vintage and antique sewing materials, tools and books that I reference in the course of my presentation and respond to participants.  Please let me know if another format is preferred / required, so that we can discuss it.

I don't place any restriction on the number of participants for in-person or Zoom sessions, however your Zoom license will need to accommodate the number of participants.  But I will ask that we work together to tailor the content and structure of the event to give the best possible experience to all participants regardless of the number that you sign up to attend.

Please discuss your plans for taping and distributing copies of my presentations with me prior to any event


Part of the process to schedule an event will include a work-back schedule with due dates to ensure that your group has time to buy and receive supplies (if appliable) and arrange all the logistical details and I have time to produce and deliver custom patterns (if applicable) and plan my presention 

  • Please read on for details regarding my general availability

  • Please contact me so that we can discuss your plans, needs, pricing and scheduling by phone or email

May to September

From May to September I work full-time as a Domestic Interpreter and Historic Cook at Upper Canada Village.  My weekly scheduled days off are subject to change, but with planning I can commit to Zoom presentations in the evenings and on my days off.  

There is a rhythm to my work at Upper Canada Village

May and June bring thousands of children to visit us on school trips, arriving by the bus load. The energy is young, excited and the pace of interactions fast. It is a time for experimenting and developing / trying new recipes and techniques. The gardens are in the process of being planting, with fresh rhubarb and asparagus coming into the kitchen.

July and August, the heat builds and the energy changes.  The school groups stop arriving by the bus load as the school year ends.  The focus now centres on teaching children and young adults the skills of the hearth and cook stove in hot kitchens as part of summer programs that include: Try a Camp, Time Travelers, Young Interpreters and Senior Young Interpreters.  Visitor numbers are growing, with people arriving from across the world or nearby. I learn as much about their cultures as I try to share about the history of Upper Canada, while illustrating the universal truths and commonalities that all cultures share, today and in the past.  The garden is coming into its own, and the preserving of foods kicks into high gear.

September is bittersweet, the children have returned to school, so one on one, hands-on education in my historic kitchen comes to a halt. Longer, often slower and more in depth conversations, with mostly adult visitors, become the norm.  The student interpreters slowly drift away to return to their studies in high school or at college and university, leaving us permanent, recurrent interpreters to finish out the season and shut down the site, allowing the buildings to slumber until their return to readiness the next Spring.

September to May

Throughout my off-season I am hard at work building my collection, bringing my ragamuffin samplers back to life, publishing and releasing patterns and making connections with like-minded creatives, needleworkers, crafters, artists and artisans  

Connection is what brings meaning to my work and my life

During the Fall, Winter and Spring while I am home and away from my full-time job, I am available to tailor and give presentations, in-person or virtual retreats and create custom / exclusive work to suit your and / or your group's preferences, needs and schedule


Given past travel restrictions and our recent experience with Covid, if for any reason, Covid related or not, I am unable to make it to the in-person event or via Zoom, I commit to rescheduling the event to a date that suits the group or I am flexible, if possible, to keep the event date and move an in-person event onto Zoom

If you decide to move forward and we schedule an event / presentation, in return you agree that should something prevent it from happening on the scheduled date based on your group's needs, that you also commit to not canceling the event, but will reschedule the event to a new mutually agreeable date

Finally we both agree that no fee will be charged by either party to move the date of the event, regardless of the reason for changing the date      


  • Please read on to learn more about what I can offer

  • Please contact me so that we can discuss your plans, needs, pricing, scheduling and refine possible topics by phone or email

My sampler collection covers a wide variety of countries of origin, styles, themes, colour palettes, materials used, etc  

At present my sampler collection numbers 350+ pieces, stitched from 1726 to the 1970s, with the majority of them stitched between 1800 and 1860

I have deliberately built the collection to cover as much of the history and breadth of samplers as I can manage  

To enhance appreciation of samplers and their history, meaning, construction and place within the education of young girls and women (for the most part) through history, I have also collected an extensive selection of vintage and antique needlework tools, sewing ephemera, stitching collectibles and books, which includes many examples from the collection of the late Glee Krueger

I can include the following themes during presentations, retreats, meet and greets: 

  • How my work as a living history costumed interpreter, in the roles of Domestic Interpreter and Historic Cook, set in Upper Canada on the front of the St. Lawrence River in 1866 intersects with my work as a sampler collector, speaker, story-teller, designer and creative small business owner 

  • Samplers by theme / subject: Adam and Eve, darning, red work, perforated paper, maps, geography, acrostic poems, workhouse / charity / named / unnamed schools, mourning, girls and boys in red and blue dresses, Ackworth and Quaker, berlin wool work / wool work, early silk, surface embroidery, sister, show towels, etc.

  • Samplers that demonstrate the expression or repression of creativity within the selection and use of materials, motifs, imagery, verses, etc.

  • Incomplete samplers and what they have to teach us about their makers, the availability of patterns, progress of work, stitch paths, use of imagery drawn in ink and pencil, etc.

  • Samplers from major collections: The Feller Collection, The Glee Krueger Collection

  • Samplers by material: silk, linen, cotton, wool

  • Samplers by region / country of origin: UK, U.S.A., Europe and Canada (Netherlands, Germany, France, Mexico, England, Scotland, Wales, Switzerland)

  • Samplers chronologically through time: samplers with an inscribed completion date, from the 1700s through the 1900s, showing the development and the varied nature of the sampler making traditions across time and continents

  • Sampler reproduction processes: including colour theory, selection and matching, technical aspects of charting using PC Stitch

  • Tips, hints and an insider's view of collecting samplers, including common condition and conservation issues

  • Needlework tools, sewing and print ephemera, stitching collectibles and books, which includes many examples from The Glee Krueger Collection


ragamuffin schoolgirl sampler patterns

Lianne van Leyen

Working with Me as a Pattern Designer

Custom and / or Exclusive Pattern Design and Sales

Custom and / or Exclusive Pattern Design Process

Contact me and we can discuss what you, your group, Guild or shop is looking to have designed

  • I offer a selection of options from my sampler collection to groups / guilds to choose from when designing a custom pattern for them

  • A sampler is selected by the individual, group, shop or Guild

  • Part of the process to produce a custom and / or exclusive pattern will include a work-back schedule with due dates to ensure that your group or shop has time to buy and receive supplies and arrange all the logistical details and I have time to produce and deliver custom patterns

  • I will chart the sampler, select the materials and then I or a model stitcher will stitch the sampler model

  • I will design and have the paper patterns produced

  • I do not offer PDF versions for any of my patterns

Partnering with a Local or Virtual Needlework Shop to Kit Your Custom / Exclusive Pattern Design

I prefer to not compete with shops, so I do not kit projects for retreats or custom / exclusive designs  

I prefer you work with a local shop to kit the custom / exclusive sampler or participants may kit their own project 

I am happy to recommend shops that can partner with you to kit your custom / exclusive pattern design

There are a variety of reasons as a solo-entrepreneur that I haven chosen to not offer kitted versions of my custom / exclusive designs, they include:

  • Given my work schedule from May to September, I am unable to commit the time to the process of ordering and compiling kits

  • I want to spend my time away from my full time job focusing on my work charting, stitching, designing and producing patterns, as well as meeting, connecting, teaching and speaking to like minded creatives

  • I can't commit the time, nor do I have the desire to work as a fine retailer of needlework materials, instead I would prefer to support the work of local and virtual shops providing this service

Minimum Order / Exclusivity Period:

  •  The minimum number of patterns that must be ordered for custom / exclusive patterns depends on a variety of factors, but is negotiable

  • The length of time a custom / exclusive design can remain exclusive and purchasing of it restricted to you, your group, shop or Guild also depends on a variety of factors, but is negotiable

Pricing, Invoicing and Shipping:

  • I invoice and require payment for patterns before they are printed and no refunds or cancellations are accepted following the printing of the patterns

  • Shipment of custom patterns to your group is completed via Canada Post / USPS / Royal Mail, etc., with tracking and insurance, billed to you / your group at cost when the patterns are shipped to your group in advance of the event 

  • If an alternate shipping carrier is preferred, please let me know

  • Canadian Orders: Effective January 1, 2024 the applicable GST / HST rate will be added to all orders of patterns shipped to a Canadian mailing address

  • US / International Orders: Any order may be subject to customs and duties (taxes) that are payable, by you, upon receipt of the order. Unfortunately, I have no control over these charges nor am I able to estimate their amount as they vary from country to country.  You may want to check with your local Customs Department for more information or for an estimate of these charges. 

  • Shipping charges will be detailed on the final PayPal invoice

In-Person Pattern Sales During your Group or Guild Event:

  • Canadian Events: I keep a stock of my patterns on hand and can bring them with me to an event located in Canada

  • US / International Events: For events based outside of Canada I may be able provide patterns on consignment for sale during your event

  • US / International Events: For events based outside of Canada I can offer offer bulk sales of patterns at wholesale prices 

Trunk Shows:

  • Canadian Events: I can bring my shop models with me to an event located in Canada

  • US / International Events: For events based outside of Canada, I am not currently able to ship my models to your event as part of a stand alone trunk show that is unrelated to custom / exclusive pattern design commissioned by you, your group, shop or Guild

  • US / International Events: For events based outside of Canada, please inquire if you are interested in hosting me and my models as part of an event at your location - please see above for details about setting up a retreat, presentation or meet and greet


  • The production of a custom / exclusive design and pattern involves varying and often considerable amounts of time to produce

  • Please see above for general information regarding my annual schedule and availability

  • Please contact me to discuss your project and your proposed date(s)