Wednesday, January 23, 2013

McCall 789: The House of the Seven Gables


Since we started talking about McCall embroidery patterns yesterday, I thought I would showcase the one 1940 McCall transfer pattern I have made so far...
McCall 789: Transfer Design for Embroidered Picture. Price, 35 cents. There is an amazing wealth of color in this enchanting garden scene of the famous old House of the Seven Gables at Salem, Mass.  The flower masses are worked in simple everday stitches and stand out brightly in contrast to the dark tones of the house.  Here are the larkspur, daisies, snapdragon, foxglove, etc. Work on smooth, closely woven linen in a warm, medium shade of gray.  For strand cottons. Full instructions. Size of picture, 8 x 10 inches.
-from the 1942 November McCall Complete Needlework Catalogue

Any one interested in Americana will recognize here the Salem home made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne, one of the best known and most admired men of his time, both for his character and for his delightful books.  This picture of the House of the Seven Gables is a nice piece to hang on the wall of an American home.  The colorful garden is done in simple stitches everyone knows, and the scene is charming when worked on light gray linen. Transfer design, 35 cents.
-from the Winter 1940-41 McCall Needlework Magazine


This pattern was such a joy to embroider.  I love the clusters of flowers, each with a different style or type of stitch.  My favourite ones have to be the ones done in tiny french knots:


This pattern came with an iron on transfer of the design.  You can see the faint grey marks on the house and in the flower patch in the photo above.  All of those turn into embroidered stitches to give the house and it's garden a warm palette filled with colour.

Illustration from the 1940 McCall's magazine

The best thing about embroidery patterns like this (at least for me) is that there are very distinct sections or clusters of flowers--making it easy to pick up the pattern and finish a cluster in one go.  I feel like this pattern went quickly because it was so easy to break up the work without feeling overwhelmed.


I think the fascination with the House of the Seven Gables in 1940 was based on the movie starring Vincent Price that came out that year.


The movie is based on the novel of the same name by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  I read the novel and really enjoyed it but I must admit that the embroidered house looks nothing like the real house that is the subject of the book.

Illustration from the 1942 McCall Complete Needlework Catalogue

I finished up the picture in time to mail to my mom as a present for Christmas but it got lost in the mail!!!  Seriously, weeks and weeks later it finally showed up.  I was so nervous!  Lesson learned...always get your embroidery/sewing presents with postal tracking!!


I am super excited to tackle some of the other embroidery patterns from 1940!

35 comments:

  1. What a great gift!  I am so glad it made it to your Mom, it is so sweet. It might be too late for this piece but I want to remind you to sign and date your needlework. In the future your signature on quilts, needlework etc. provide a provenance that is so important to those who appreciate your work. Consider the "School-girl"  samplers of New England and the quilts that have surfaced from Gees Bend and the American Civil War. Such pieces are historically significant as well as priceless to those family members who inherit.  

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  2. That's beautiful - thank goodness it showed up finally!

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  3. That turned out great! I've been fiddling with the idea of making something like this.

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  4. Lovely work. A piece to be very proud of.

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  5. Ashley O'ShaughnessyJanuary 23, 2013 7:28 PM

    When I first looked at this, I thought your embroidery was the pattern envelope.  It's perfect! Love it!

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  6. I'm so glad it wasn't lost for good! You had me scared there. What a fantastic embroidery pattern (and what a good job you did!) and I'm sure you're right about the film driving interest in The House of the Seven Gables. I've read the book and watched the movie and they're quite different. The movie's worth it for Vincent Price and George Sanders, though.

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  7. Beautiful work!  And all those French knots!!  Inspiring.  :)

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  8. Amazing, so much work but it paid off.Relieved it turned up too, you must have been devastated to think it could have been lost.

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  9. I'm so glad you've finished and shown us!  Its fabulous and you've done a great job :-)

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  10. Alyssa OpishinskiJanuary 24, 2013 12:56 AM

    I would have been ripping my hair out! I'm so glad it got there safely, it is an amazing piece of fine needlework. I wish I could get myself hooked on cross-stitch and embroidery, but I feel like my time is already more than taken up with sewing and knitting and job and real life. And this book is going on my reading list...never even heard of it, but I love Vincent Price.

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  11. This is just magical! What beautiful stitching. I was going to be crestfallen if this had been truly lost forever, I'm so glad to hear it did eventually arrive. Egads!

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  12. SOOOOO beautiful! What a lucky mom. I really understand your point about it being nice when you have small parts of the overall embroidery project to work on. I absolutely adore and the embroidery stitches and of course the colors. I can imagine the despair you must have felt for a while when it was lost in the mail. Glad it finally came around though!

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  13. I'm so glad it wasn't lost forever.  It's beautiful.  Your mum sure is one lucky lady.

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  14. It's beautiful! And I do think the house looks a bit like the original house, with artistic leave for the tricky part of transfering a building to a pretty embroidery =)
    I'm so happy for you that it turned up! I can't even imagine the devestation if it had been forever lost in the mail... Tracking number is a great safety-net!

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  15. Goodness I'm so glad it didn't get lost in the mail! I had no idea you were also so talented for embroidery!

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  16. oranges_and_applesJanuary 24, 2013 3:38 PM

    wow, what a wonderfully elaborate picture!

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  17. wonderful lovely colours and french knots give such a lovely texture

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  18. Oh that is wonderful!  I have 3 of these transfer type embroideries which I have inherited from my Gran, 2 unfinished and one blank.  I didn't know they could be as old as this, do you have pictures of other embroideries or do you know any history of them?  I would love to be able to date them.  I think one is a cottage and another is a pretty lady, I will have to dig them out for more details now!

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  19. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 24, 2013 11:53 PM

    Hi Sarah!  Definitely dig them out!  I'm pretty good at recognizing if they come from McCall patterns around this time period or a bit earlier.  You'll have to email me some pictures and we'll see if we can figure it out!!  It's so great that you inherited them from your Gran!

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  20. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 24, 2013 11:54 PM

    Thanks so much, Adrienne!!

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  21. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 24, 2013 11:56 PM

    I guess it does look like the house!  The house just seems so much darker from the outside and I think all the pictures I've seen have been in the winter time...lol.  

    I am so glad I didn't look the embroidered picture!!  I would have been so devastated.  As it was, I was on pins and needles waiting for it to show up (with images of it going astray or decorating some rural post office).

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  22. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 24, 2013 11:56 PM

    I'm so glad it came through, too!!!  Phew! What a relief!

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  23. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 24, 2013 11:57 PM

    Thanks Tasha!!  I definitely thought it was lost forever.  Thank goodness it showed up!!

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  24. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 24, 2013 11:58 PM

    I love cross-stitch and embroidery...and am trying to get into crochet and knitting.  The funny thing is that I think crochet and knitting take forever!! hahahaha...I guess it's just what you've had experience doing!

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  25. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 24, 2013 11:58 PM

    Thanks Sarah!

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  26. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 24, 2013 11:59 PM

    Thanks Sarah! I ADORE french knots!! They are so cute!

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  27. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 25, 2013 12:01 AM

    You know, I haven't yet seen the film.  I've been dying to watch it.  I'd also love to revisit the book...

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  28. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 25, 2013 12:02 AM

    What a lovely compliment! Thank you!!

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  29. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 25, 2013 12:02 AM

    You should definitely make something like this!  I love embroidery...it's a great project for winding down in the evening.

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  30. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 25, 2013 12:03 AM

    That's such a good idea! Thank you Corrine!  I hadn't even thought of signing my embroidery but it makes it so much nicer for the next generations!!

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  31. I live in Salem, the House of Seven Gables is one of my favorite places in town, and my jaw dropped when I saw this. Beautiful! Wish I could make it.

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  32. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 25, 2013 5:03 PM

    That is so great that you live in Salem!  Definitely on my wish list of place to go and see :)

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  33. Thanks!  I will try and find them and send the pictures over if there are no printed details on them.

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  34. It is so lovely!  What a marvelous gift, and what a relief that it finally showed up!  The colors and detail are truly stunning.

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  35. Trying to find this pattern everywhere! Love it. No luck so far :(

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I read each and every comment--thank you so much!

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