Lianne Van Leyen guest Stitchery Stories textile art podcast Wide Art

Lianne Van Leyen is the guest today on the Stitchery Stories podcast, where she shares how she re-creates antique schoolgirl samplers into patterns for the modern cross stitch enthusiast. Lianne is the founder of 1897 Schoolhouse Samplers and is an avid collector of antique schoolgirl samplers.

After many years of dreaming and planning, she escaped her corporate career and landed her dream job as a historic cook and historical domestic interpreter at the Upper Canada Village living history museum, located in Eastern Ontario, Canada. This also gave her the opportunity to focus on launching her business: 1897 Schoolhouse Samplers.

See below for the full version of Lianne’s very interesting bio!

Lianne Van Leyen Stitchery Stories Podcast Guest

Susan Weeks chats with Lianne about:

  • Taking 10 to 15 years to move from “I think I can do this” to “I know I can do this” to “I am doing it!”
  • Decisions around how to scale, at a relevant price point, at desired quality level
  • Learning to let go of what we thought would work
  • Getting out of our own way
  • Using PCStitch to map out cross stitch antique sampler patterns
  • The challenges and processes involved in interpreting antique schoolgirl samplers
  • A growing collection of antique schoolgirl samplers
  • How did the sampler collection start?
  • Juggling a corporate career and finding the headspace to think about creative endeavours
  • Designing a way to have the dream job and have a creative business based around cross stitch
  • Being brave, reaching out to strangers and developing strong creative relationships, friends and connections
  • Learning to trust your decisions
  • Having a variety of tasks in the pipeline to work on to cope with overwhelm and tricky decisions



Shop: Etsy 1897Schoolhouse


Related Stitchery Stories episodes you might like:

Other people, places & things we mentioned:

Upper Canada Village

PCStitch popular design software for counted cross stitch pattern making

Full Bio for Lianne Van Leyen

By day, I am a historical domestic interpreter and historic cook at a world class living history museum, Upper Canada Village, which is located in Eastern Ontario, along the St. Lawrence Seaway. I specialize in historic cooking, preparing and serving period correct meals and desserts from recipes published in 1866 or earlier. I cook in an open hearth and also on a step cook stove, manufactured in Ontario in 1877. I teach children to bake and cross stitch and I have the privilege of interpreting and demonstrating Canada’s history on the eve of our Confederation for visitors that travel from across the world and close by, to visit us.  Prior to attaining my dream job in 2018, I started out in fine arts, worked in child protection, banking and higher education management.

By night, I am,,, hmmm, artist, antique sampler collector and reproductionist, cross stitcher and the owner of 1897 Schoolhouse Samplers. I live in a one room schoolhouse that was indeed built in 1897 and own a church built next door in the 1920s. My husband and I are also caretakers of three classic British vechiles, a 1957 Series I Land Rover, a 1980 ex-military Series III Land Rover formerly deployed as part of the British Army of the Rhine and a 196I Triumph TR3a.  I have spent many years learning to paint and draw and teaching myself many different crafts, including cross stitch.

As caretaker of a growing collection of antique schoolgirl samplers stitched from 1750 to 1940, collected mostly from Great Britain, with the remainder from the U.S.A, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Switzerland and Canada and owner of 1897 Schoolhouse Samplers, I am committed to reproducing antique needlework and producing patterns for the modern stitcher, increasing exposure and interest in historical textiles and needlearts within and outside the stitching community. I present to individuals and groups interested in my collection and in learning more about samplers and their history.

To date, as 1897 Schoolhouse Samplers, I have published three cross stitch patterns:

  • Above the Sky, Mary ann Raywood, 1818
  • Hearts Aflutter
  • Granny’s Garden, Born in a Bower

I also have more eight patterns at various stages of pre-print production, with stitched models for:

  • Everlasting, Elfreda Lewis 1833
  • Granny’s Garden, In the Apple Orchard
  • Elizabeth Browns Work, 1792
  • Frances Bradley
  • Mary White
  • Fanny Crompton
  • Helen Willifer
  • Fanny Servant, Aged 8, 1840

In preparation for production of printed patterns, work is underway on stitched models for:

  • Elizabeth Mounsey, aged 9 years
  • Jane Cheesbrough
  • Catharine Godley, March 27, Aged 10 years
  • Sarah Smith, aged 14 years, 1842
  • Mary Fitch, born August 12th 1801, And wrought this sampler in the 10th year of her age
  • Sarah Allden, Aged 10, 1796
  • Mary Ann Burton, Aged 8 years
  • Elizabeth Ladbrook, Aged 12 years, 1838
  • Catharine Warrilow, Aged 10 years, 1816

You can find out more about 1897 Schoolhouse Samplers and see pictures of my work on Facebook and Instagram. 

My patterns can be purchased from my ETSY shop, 1897Schoolhouse or through local needlework shops currently carrying my pattern.  Wholesale inquiries from local needlework shops are always welcome!  Currently patterns may be available from:


  • Barnfull O’ Goodies, Morrisburg, ON
  • Kimat Designs, Whitby, ON
  • Knowledge and Needles, Brighton, ON
  • L’atelier L’ Atelier de Pénélope, QC
  • Traditional Stitches, Calgary, AB
  • Wool-Tyme, Ottawa, ON


  • A Stitching Shop, Denver, CO
  • Dyeing to Stitch, Virginia Beach, VA
  • Little Creek Needleworks, Canton, OH
  • Wooden Needle, Stowe, VT


  • A Stitch in Time, Tasmania