The George Müller Foundation and the Catherine Archer Sampler

By Jane Greenoff

I first heard of the George Müller Foundation when I became the proud owner of the sampler shown here. Catherine Archer, an orphan, stitched this sampler while she was living at Ashley Down Orphanage, one of the Müller orphanages in Bristol, UK.

Catherine Archer Sampler

George Müller was born in 1805 in Prussia (now Germany). By his own admission he was a liar and a thief who stole from his family and friends. His heavy reliance on alcohol eventually caught up with him and he spent time in prison. However, in November 1825 he was converted to the Christian faith and his life took a completely new track.

In 1829 Müller travelled to England to work as a missionary, and it was in England that he started his extraordinary work amongst the orphaned children of Bristol. In 1836, Müller opened his first house for thirty girls and over the next thirty-five years, he opened five orphanages on Ashley Down, Bristol, housing more than 2,000 children altogether.

All Müller children were smartly dressed, well fed and educated. (Müller was accused of robbing the mills by educating the poor above their station.) Boys stayed in the orphanages until they were fourteen, girls until they were seventeen. When they left the orphanage all children were found employment, and given clothing and a Bible.

Catherine's original sampler was worked on ecru non-evenweave linen in one strand of red thread. The design was worked over one thread of the fabric: equivalent to 45 stitches to the inch! This is even more amazing when you consider that Catherine had no electric light or magnifier.

The New Müller Sampler

As was often the case with the alphabet samplers stitched by Müller children, Catherine's design includes dozens of complete alphabets, her classmates' initials, border motifs, keys and a Bible. As you can imagine, the complete original design is enormous and can be downloaded from our Download Store.  However here I have charted some of the alphabets and border designs to create your own New Müller Sampler (chart available here to download). Even this is quite a large chart.

The New Müller Sampler

I have also charted just a few of the letters and motifs to create the smaller Müller Variations design which may give you some ideas for inventing your own uses for the motifs and alphabets. Obviously, the motifs could be adapted in many other ways. I have used just three colours (red, green and white) to show how even simple variations can alter the look of these letters and border motifs.

The New Müller Sampler and Variations, inspired by the Catherine Archer Sampler

Download chart for New Müller Sampler and Variations

The New Müller Sampler illustrated above was stitched on pure Cashel 28-count linen, using two strands of DMC stranded cotton (floss), 321. When the cross stitch was complete, the embroidery was dipped in warm tea to add the authentic antique look!

To create the small Müller Variations, a capital letter 'B' from the sampler was made to look 'snow capped' by stitching it partly in white, and three small motifs were adapted to create a small design. This was stitched on 20-count unbleached linen using two strands of stranded cotton (floss) in red, green and white.

The Catherine Archer Sampler Notecards  are available to purchase.  The notecards are blank for your own message, and on the back there is a chart featuring motifs from the sampler.