Dutch Canal Houses - Table Topper for St. Nicholas Celebrating

Dutch Canal House Pattern

Believe it or not - until I set foot inside the Dutch Store last year, I had never even heard of a Dutch canal house! Seeing all those charming Delft blue and white ceramic canal houses lined up side by side on a shelf - well - it was love at first sight and I instructed my Muse to begin thinking of a way to incorporate Dutch canal houses into my St. Nicholas celebration.

We settled on an embroidered table topper!

Dutch Canal House Embroidery 1

Notes were taken as ideas popped up for the shape - round, square, rectangular. I finally settled on a long narrow white linen table topper measuring approximately 20" wide and 36" long with a row of four houses embroidered in shades of blue at each end - and plenty of room between for displaying wooden shoes!

Table toppers that would require 12 or 16 houses were rejected almost as soon as they were sketched! It would take me F-O-R-E-V-E-R to embroider 16 houses! I am pretty sure I have my hands full with 8!

Dutch Canal House embroidery 2

Since white and blue ceramic canal houses were what enchanted me in the first place, I turned to this site for architectural details that could be incorporated into my designs. I didn't copy them exactly, of course, but used them as a guide in designing my own.

And in the process of exploring the site I learned that each gable shape has a name that reflects it's shape - stair gable, bell gable, neck gable....

The gables I settled on: Zaanse, stair, pointed, and neck.

At the time I was designing, I had this crazy idea that all my lines had to be straight, so my houses were drawn on graph paper. If you are into straight - graph paper is definitely the way to go.

Designing your own houses is fun - it really is! And you might be much smarter than I am and NOT make so many lines to be stitched! But if anyone wishes, I can certainly make a PDF available of the drawings I made.

Dutch Canal house embroidery 4

I cut the completed drawings so that the houses could be arranged in any order, and once I was happy with an arrangement, I taped the houses to each other and to the surface of my light table. The light from the light box makes tracing designs very easy.

For other methods of transfer, try this, or this - transfer tutorials from Carina at Blog &Stitches.

Dutch Canal House embroidery 5

NOTE: Before I taped the linen over the house designs, I made certain that all four sides were cut along the grain. If you do not know how to do this, you can follow this excellent tutorial on Wee Folk Art.

Linen has lovely, large warp and weft threads that are very easy to see and this makes it much easier to line up the fabric threads over the house design lines so that the placement of the design is perfectly straight along the bottom and sides of the table topper.

Once the linen was cut to size, I used masking tape to secure it over the design on the light box. I used a LOT of tape on three sides to make sure the fabric did not move while I was tracing.

My tracing tools? This magic pen - the color washes right out with a little cool water. And a transparent straight edge.

Dutch Canal House Embroidery 6

Tracing the details of each house took much less time than I expected - only about an hour per side!

I used an old trick I learned in architectural drafting and traced all the horizontal lines - beginning at the top and working toward the bottom, and then traced all the vertical lines - beginning at the right and moving toward the left.

Dutch Canal House Embroidery7

I hope the embroidery goes almost as fast as the tracing! But I have a feeling I am going to be at the embroidery phase for a good long while!!


For the past several weeks, I have been thinking I am miss smarty pants for coming up with the design for my canal houses - until today.  As I was preparing this post, I googled images for Dutch canal houses so I could share the link with you and right there in the middle of the images offered I saw...

Picture 23

Image found on Crafty Crow of Dutch canal houses made by Anne (10 years) and shared on Kids Artists

...this adorable sketch on Crafty Crow who found it on Kids Artists! These charming  houses were drawn by Anne, age 10,  as part of a classroom assignment! Don't you just love Anne's drawing? (Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the post for a classsroom drawing.)

So first of all I am NOT miss smarty pants after all. (Another excellent example of the points I made in my post about intuitive consciousness! The similarities between the houses drawn by me and Anne - uncanny. My jaw dropped three feet when I saw the image above. Three feet!)

Furthermore,  I am loving the not so straight lines! (I am committed to my own straight line design now, but next time - freehand! I totally love the look of these houses.)

And most importantly - the drawing clearly demonstrates that no one need feel intimidated or feel they can not make a charming Dutch canal house design to use as a table topper or pillow cover, or wall hanging!

And don't miss seeing this very colorful and charming classroom version of canal houses on Kids Artists! Wouldn't this be a perfect project for kids celebrating St. Nicholas Day!

I just found this site - Kids Artists by Jacquelien - and placed it immediately in my reader!  I love it!  Thank you Cassie! Thank you Google Images!


Back to my own little project - time to begin the embroidery. I will keep you posted!

I love your dutch houses. I

I love your dutch houses. I resently meet a dutch gentleman and want to present him a napkin with these lovly buildings. Please send me a pdf! Thank yo so very much.
Best regards BarbroLi

Barbara!  A Free PDF is

Barbara!  A Free PDF is available at the bottom of this post:  Dutch  Canal House Embroidery Free PDF

May I please have a PDF copy

May I please have a PDF copy of your houses - I am getting into blackwork just now and I do it in different colours instead of black. I have been cross stitching for nearly 25 years.

Thank you.

Wow! Your design is gorgeous

Wow! Your design is gorgeous and if it is not too late, I would love to get a copy of your pdf! My neighbor moved here from Holland 9 years ago and goes back frequently to see family. This would make a wonderful gift for her. Thanks in advance!

You canal houses are lovely.

You canal houses are lovely. You did a terrific job with them. I actually prefer your straight lines. Please, may I have a copy of your PDF? :-)

WOW. I just absolutely love

WOW. I just absolutely love your Dutch canal houses project. And doing it in Delft blue! Wonderful!! I will keep checking in, so please continue to post your progress as you go! You are certainly moving right along!! If you by any wild chance would share your design, I would be SO happy to have it! My daughter studied abroad in the Netherlands last year and has many fond memories... I would love to do something like this for her... or maybe reduce it and do a long rectangular pillow or something.... Anyway, thanks for sharing your beautiful work!!

I'd love to have a pdf of

I'd love to have a pdf of these awesome houses. You are so talented. I can't wait to see them all stitched up!

I just found your blog via the DMC threads blog. I plan on doing some back reading on your blog, too.

Have a great day

Jo and Victoria!  Your pdf's

Jo and Victoria!  Your pdf's are on the way to you!  Thank you for asking!

A lot of stitching - but if you are like me, you will use the pattern as a sampler and try out lots of different stitches.

I LOVE these so so much! I'm

I LOVE these so so much! I'm obsessed with Dutch houses. If you make a pattern for us, I'd be soooo grateful :D

*Throws hands in the air!*

*Throws hands in the air!* You are amazing - and I absolutely cannot wait to see the finished incarnation of this project. It's going to be SO beautiful!!! xo

Please do a .pdf, that's a

Please do a .pdf, that's a gorgeous design!

Are you kidding?! I was

Are you kidding?! I was going to make a steampunk house, but THIS....!

Ooh! I love anything with

Ooh! I love anything with rows of houses - this will look gorgeous!! I have always been in love with this cake for that reason. And if you haven't seen them before, you totally need some of these gift boxes! :)

Love the idea, can do some

Love the idea, can do some other slants on these. You mentioned giving us a PDF of your designs, PRETTY PLEASE!That would be absolutely wonderful. I haven't embroidered in years but you don't forget really. I need something to keep my naughty goody eating hands out of the kitchen. If I have a project like yours I'll be too busy to gobble. So please make a PDF and send it to us. I'll be looking forward to it. THX for sharing your awesome project.

wooow i love your drawing and

wooow i love your drawing and the inpiration ones as well.
and it's in progress. good to see you have found your spirit back girl;-D
i had to laught of the Zaanse house in the middle , they aren't really together in Holland standing. but i love it still.
The Zaanse one is to find only in the Zaans district. there you was in much early days more wood laying in the water to work out.
In Amsterdam the water level is too high like in the most parts of Holland.
We live far below sea level, on some places it's 15 meters.!!!
And Amsterdam and the south and north provincies near the coast was mostly swamp. that's why the wonkyness of the canal houses.
They had to use wood to build on those houses near the cannals, but in all those other north holland citys and towns.
in The Zaan district was alot water to let the wood drive in, the people weren't sooo rich so the houses were often bilt of wood.
Only in the Zaans district you will find that type of houses.
I hope you like this information, nooo hard feelings.
The kitschens are in those houses always on the street level or lawer, so the cellar and sometimes the kitschen as well was often floaded.
so those cellars were made by high water in the cannals (Amsterdam was laying on the Zuiderzee, now the IJ pond). that they could drive and the storage would be safed and dry.
i have seen such a floading cellar, i read about it that some of the kitschen in Amsterdam and the cellar were built the same. funny don't you think, soooo smart.
hey love your new project i'm looking unpatiencenly to the following up of this;-D

Jet!  Thank you! I appreciate

Jet!  Thank you! I appreciate so much you adding all the information you have shared in your comment.  I have learned so much and I am very glad you clarified about the Zaans district.  Certainly there are no "hard feelings".  I am always eager to learn.

I am in absolute awe- this is

I am in absolute awe- this is going to be amazing when you're finished, I just know it! Learning to embroider is on my to-do list... I have a feeling this will make me want to learn even quicker.

Meg - I am surprised to hear

Meg - I am surprised to hear you haven't tried embroidery.  It seems you are talented in almost every craft!  I know you will love it once you begin. 

Thank you so much for your enthusiastic support!  I am thinking now that I have begun a few stitches that it would be a great opportunity to try out new stitches - especially given the monochromatic color scheme.

I think you are going to have

I think you are going to have a wonderful finished project. I love to sit down and do a little embroidery. I like that you are working on your own design based on something you like. The blues will look nice.

Thank you Robin!  I think the

Thank you Robin!  I think the blue will be beautiful too against the white linen.

This is the very first embroidery design that I created.  A little complicated, but Diane will tell you - I always seem to get in just over my head!!!

I am a firm believer of

I am a firm believer of getting in over my head. How are you going to improve if you keep doing the same thing over and over again? It's good to push ourselves to see just how far we can go. Plus, it feels so good when we accomplish something outside our comfort zone.

This is great, Pam! I can't

This is great, Pam! I can't wait to see the finished product!

Wow, June!  What a nice

Wow, June!  What a nice compliment coming from you - the designer who can create almost anything in crochet!! 

These are so beautiful, Mom!

These are so beautiful, Mom! I love the complexity of detail in each building, and I know this will look amazing on your table.

Thank you, Diane!!!  I

Thank you, Diane!!!  I started the stitching earlier today and I agree - it is going to be very pretty.  And your's one day!! So i am especially glad to know you like it!:-)

Beautiful! And you studied

Beautiful! And you studied architectural drafting? Is there anything you can't do? :-) I can hardly wait to see the end result!

Lots I can do - however

Lots I can do - however nothing as well as you can do.  YOU, my friend, got dabbler genes on steroids!

ummmmmmmmmmh... erm...

ummmmmmmmmmh... erm... ahem... could I maybe start with a dutch canal birdhouse? For a very small bird? I can't draw anything planned, let alone freehand architecture. That girl may be ten, but she beats me by MILES!
Your "sketch" is very, very impressive and I can't wait for the finished project.
I want to try embroidery so much, but I'm afraid to suck at it so bad that I never want to look at embroidery projects again.
So, yeah, maybe a little unambitious bird house for me first and see how it goes :)

Steff, you are being way too

Steff, you are being way too hard on yourself.  Really, embroidery is not hard and I think you will enjoy it.  I will have to put something together to get you started. xoxox

Dear Pam, I think your

Dear Pam,
I think your drawings are just perfect for an embroidery pattern (perhaps too many details, if *I* was doing the embroidery :)) but Anne's drawing is a lovely piece of artwork.

As you can see from my "name", I live in the Netherlands and can tell you that freehand is the way to go with canal houses. Due to their age and the fact that they are close to water (soft ground) means that they often sag and generally look wonky.

By the way, I am from Scotland and there we have stair gables but we call them crow steps gables, which I rather like.

Looking forward to seeing your blue and white embroidery.
All the best

Thank you so much for your

Thank you so much for your kind words and the note about the crow steps!  Love that too! 

Your mention of the fact that the houses are on soft ground and by their very nature are wonky makes me feel much better about beginning the embroidery part of the project!  Now if my embroidery lines are not perfectly straight, I need not worry!  Takes a lot of of pressure off!  My embroidery skills leave a lot to be desired in the perfection catagory!!

I just totally love Anne's drawing.  And wouldn't it make the most delightful embroidery?

Oh, this is a great

Oh, this is a great project!
I like you're making it in white and blue, like beautiful Delft ceramic! :)

Since i was inspired by the

Since i was inspired by the Delft blue ceramics in the first place, it only seemed fitting to duplicate the colors!  Can you believe that the embroidery floss I purchased for most of the work is actually called Delft!  Didn't even realize that til i got home and looked at the sales slip in the bag!