In old cartoons there is often _____ hanging on the wall, reading "home, sweet home" and the like, often framed. As far as this question is concerned, this stuff is sewen, stiched, knitted, you tell me. What is this thing called?

I'd call this Stickerei in German and the dictionary offers "(archaic) stitchery", but this applies broadly to any stitched decoration, e.g. on cushions, jackets. It also offers embroydery, fancy-work for synonyms. Tapestry seems to come close, but rather describes a hanging rug (a flying carpet, isn't it). Is any of these preferentially used to describe the stitched plaques, is plaque a good fit, or are there specialized dialectal terms? And what's up with that anyway, what's the tradition called?

Reason I'm asking is this Ger "Applikation" describes embroydery, funny enough, and through the correspondance p ~ f may relate to Flicken "plug, patch". patch-work has gained a different sense, though. Ger Stepp- could relate to tape-, but I am not sure.

  • An embroidered sampler demonstrating needlework. Good ones are collectible. Here’s an article about them. metmuseum.org/toah/hd/need/hd_need.htm
    – Xanne
    Sep 6, 2019 at 6:43
  • Strictly speaking, a sampler is a panel showing samples of different stitches, while mottoes such as 'Home, sweet home' are often worked just in cross-stitch. However, a search on 'framed cross stitch motto' brings up photos of items which their owners describe as samplers. Sep 6, 2019 at 7:29
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    Needlework, needlepoint, cross-stitch, stitchery, embroidery, sampler, wall hanging, tapestry.
    – Hot Licks
    Sep 6, 2019 at 11:59
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    I hate to presume to correct your German, but unless you are a textile expert, I would dispute that Applikation means embroidery. It means appliqué, which is a specialised technique in which separately worked pieces of embroidery or lace are sewn (note spelling) onto net, as @HotLicks mentions in has comment on that answer.
    – David
    Sep 7, 2019 at 20:05
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    @aparente001 I had tagged the question "archaism" on purpose, before a zealous admin edited that. No doubt most readers would have missed it anyway. Also, I did note embroidery, didn't I? I just wasn't sure whether it is most appropriate to use figuratively denoting an embroidered piece. Hence I had tagged this also "word-choice". However, the "word-request" crowd did a better job of it, I'm sure.
    – vectory
    Sep 9, 2019 at 9:58

4 Answers 4


cross stitch sampler

Sampler or cross-stitch sampler

(Cross stitch is a particular type of embroidery.)

Here is a short article that gives you some terminology and will also help you understand how embroidery fit into women's life course in the 18th century: American Needlework in the Eighteenth Century

A how-to book with images and some historical information, Cross Stitch Antique Samplers, states:

The term 'sampler' comes from the Latin exemplum, meaning an example to be followed, a pattern or model.

(Wall hangings would most often hang from a dowel rod. Which is not what you saw in the animated films.)

Here is an example of a "Home Sweet Home" sampler from an old animated film, which I found with a Google Images search.

Puss Gets the Boot 1940

Now, your sample sentence:

In old cartoons there is often a sampler hanging on the wall, reading "home, sweet home" and the like, often framed.

  • a) I'm not sure why this is called a sampler, or since when; Under the assumption of it being an example I would try to avoid using it for purposefully mass produced pieces, but given the original sense seen at the root, that means cut-out, excerpt I'm quite willing to suppose an older sense at home with the snyder (difficult to explain, cp. snip, snippet; related question concerning tatters already opened) b) I see no reason why a sampler has to be cross-stitched other than the rather recent trend culminating in 18th century schools-wide compulsory cross-stitching classes which are ...
    – vectory
    Sep 9, 2019 at 10:10
  • ... surely the biggest influence for our current perception of the matter. After all, I see no reason why a motto sampler made from cut-out letters, that is appliques, should not count. Thus I don't know which to up-vote.
    – vectory
    Sep 9, 2019 at 10:13
  • @vectory - the original question asked about the framed "Home Sweet Home" on the wall in old cartoons. It is a simplification of something that was quite common in a earlier period in the United State. It is a cultural trope. There are multiple ways of describing it, however, the most apt and common would be "cross stitch sampler." The embroidered homily see in the old cartoons could have been made with appliqué techniques, but it wasn't. It was made with cross stitch. Note that the actual historical samplers might have had some other embroidery stitches, such as the French knot.... Sep 9, 2019 at 21:02
  • ... (remember, the trope in the cartoons was simplified) -- but they were unlikely to have been done with appliqué techniques. If you want to know when and where cross stitch was used vs. appliqué, within the US, you need to ask a separate question; such a question would be a good fit for Arts and Crafts. Sep 9, 2019 at 21:05
  • Now, about "archaic." It's not enough to tag a question archaic. If you want to know something about the usage of a word in a particular century or period, you have to say this explicitly in the question. // What I don't understand is why, when you looked in the dictionary, you zeroed in on the archaic definition, instead of sticking with the first entry. // That user-developed dictionary you consulted is interesting, but not standard, by the way. It's fine to consult it, but before posting at ELU, I recommend that you check at least one of the standard dictionaries. Sep 9, 2019 at 21:08

It would actually be a proverbial embroidery, however it would be referred to as an embroidery in UK English. But according to my dictionary that is not how the word embroidery is used in US English. Although as I have already stated it is a proverbial embroidery I fined no actual use of this term on the Internet. But there are many for embroidery and wall hanging.

Embroidery Kit Link

A more general term for things similar but not exclusive to an embroidery sign is Wall Hanging

wall hanging noun; a large piece of material or sewing that is hung on a wall as a decoration ​

embroidery noun UK (SEWING) patterns or pictures that consist of stitches sewn directly onto cloth:

proverbial adjective (of a statement) commonly known, esp. because it is from a proverb or saying known by many people, or because it expresses a truth known by a particular group of people:

All references Cambridge English Dictionary

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    I don't think the US definition of "embroidery" is much different.
    – Hot Licks
    Sep 6, 2019 at 21:52
  • @Hot Licks Thanks for the input.
    – Brad
    Sep 6, 2019 at 23:40
  • My wife is a craftswoman and speaks German. Embroidery is indeed the correct translation of Stickerei and the one given in the Collins German–English dictionary.
    – David
    Sep 7, 2019 at 18:28
  • I'd say a piece of embroidery rather than an embroidery. Sep 8, 2019 at 5:34
  • From what the dictionary says in US English you would be exactly right. I'd would probably say the sign on the wall, but there again what I say and write is usually very different. Also my speciality is not sewing (I think US refer to this as point the needle or something similar) ah found it "Needlepoint" sorry.
    – Brad
    Sep 8, 2019 at 6:08


From m-w.com

Definition of tapestry 1a: a heavy handwoven reversible textile used for hangings, curtains, and upholstery and characterized by complicated pictorial designs b: a nonreversible imitation of tapestry used chiefly for upholstery c: embroidery on canvas resembling woven tapestry needlepoint tapestry

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    No, a framed embroidered Home Sweet Home wouldn't be called a tapestry. Even the definition cited here doesn't justify the application of the term in this case. Sep 6, 2019 at 10:26
  • @HighPerformanceMark "Needlepoint tapestry" is given as an example.
    – moonstar
    Sep 6, 2019 at 10:27
  • The OP has already mention tapestry, that's nothing new.
    – Kris
    Sep 6, 2019 at 10:32
  • It's certainly needlepoint, but I wouldn't call them tapestries.
    – Smock
    Sep 6, 2019 at 11:15
  • Tapestry is woven, not sewn. Stickerei is related to the German verb, sticken, to embroider, which is a sewing, not a weaving technique.
    – David
    Sep 7, 2019 at 20:08



Ornamental needlework in which pieces of fabric are sewn or stuck on to a larger piece to form a picture or pattern.

Applique Tree of Life Wall Hanging: Applique Tree of Life Wall Hanging © 2019 Amish Country Quilts, Lancaster, PA USA

  • Now that I think of it, did the OP mean appliqué when saying "Stitched applications"? As much as plaque mentioned in the body of the question? Very Close!
    – Kris
    Sep 6, 2019 at 9:47
  • But the question is about embroidered slogans hanging on a wall, not embroidered pictures. The definition cited at the top of this answer seems clearly to rule out appliqué as the word OP seeks. Sep 6, 2019 at 10:28
  • @HighPerformanceMark Let's see what the OP and others have to say.
    – Kris
    Sep 6, 2019 at 10:31
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    "Applique" is a specific form of stitchery, halfway between embroidery and quilting. Relatively small pieces of cloth are stitched to the background, to form the desired pattern (which may be a picture, or may be words). Often small details will be added using embroidery.
    – Hot Licks
    Sep 6, 2019 at 21:51
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    @aparentee001 It's not irrelevant to the question. Donald Duck cartoons were the outset of the question, basically from when I was young. I doubt that Donald would call it a motto sampler. Technical terminology often deviates from an original sense;, so, if this sense of appliqué exists perhaps only since medival times, I don't really care for the difference. On the one hand, appliqué is a nominalized pp., if I'm not mistaken, and needs a noun to go with it. On the other hand, given patch and patchwork, it seems reasonable to assume that the sewn-on pieces are appliques as well ...
    – vectory
    Sep 8, 2019 at 8:47

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