The Avid Embroiderer Presents - Shadow Embroidery

After seeing an article about Shadow Embroidery (SE), I did some research to bring that style to you.

The first thing I found was that most of the YouTube articles on SE were about hand embroidery. It is a great look and easily achieved with handwork. I found the instructions for machine creation in an old Designs In Machine Embroidery magazine.

The details and instructions were lengthy but interesting.
  • Use a fine muslin, a lightly woven fabric like cotton organza or fine batiste.
  • The design will be displayed on the 'wrong side' of the fabric. Run the design on the 'back' of your project.
  • It is certainly made to go on just about anything that you would normally embroider upon.
  • It works best with a design that is mainly made by fill stitches (last months' emoji freebie is an example).
  • Be sure your bobbin tension is accurate, see below for the test stitching for your design format.
  • Small details do not do well in this configuration, however, if not eliminated/skipped from the design, it tends to have much more color showing in the design.

I have used a sheet of a linen fabric that does not have a back and front side. They are the same on both sides. I did some experiments when I found that small details did not give the result I am trying to achieve. I adjusted my tension but that did not change those details.

This design is from the group already on my machine. This would be the backside if the fabric had a differing front to back. I used two layers of Heat-Away because I was planning to tear it off when I was done.

Here it is with the stabilizer removed.

And here is the 'shadow' effect. 

This design is interesting because nearly all of the stitches are the fill type. But, as you see, the smaller areas, like the red on the wings, have more than their share of the top thread. I have observed that so many times in my designs, I guess that is normal. I think it is interesting.

One way I would use it would be to have a 'before' and 'after' type of designs. They would compliment each other but have a totally different feel. Additionally, I can see this as embroidery on a bridal gown where some designs are normal and some are the shadow effect.

I might even try for a design that is partly standard and partly in the shadows. I would place markings to identify positions, turn the fabric over, and turn the design fully left or right. That would make the project unique. Most people, including embroiderers who don't read my blog, would not know how the effect was created.

As noted above, here are the tests for checking your thread tension. (372B) (248B) (351B) (300B) (4.1KB) (1.1KB) (295B)

Due to circumstances beyond my control, there is no freebie this time. Sorry about that.  

Comments (2) - 1/15/2018 1:38:42 AM

What you are showing is not shadow embroidery.  The "shadow" means you can see a hint of the stitch pattern and color, done on the wrong side, on the right side of the fabric.   That's why you need a fine, light weight fabric that you can see through.   There's nothing like this in your example.

You are so correct.  The original method I found did mention that fact and I did forget that detail. Actually, the technique is done with hand embroidery on translucent fabric.  

Here is a URL that you can see the method done with hand embroidery.  

Pat, The Avid Embroiderer

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The Avid Embroiderer Presents – If it ain't broke, break it! And, a freebie to Decorate those Flameless Candles

The Avid Embroiderer Presents – If it ain't broke, break it! And, a freebie to Decorate those Flameless Candles

I am still moving into my new home and for my first act, I broke a plate. . . Mind you, this previously rental home was completely furnished right down to silverware, dinnerware, towels, etc. I have moved into a '55 years old or older community.' It is common for them to come furnished. In fact, I know one person who rents these homes over the winter and gets $6,000 per month. Therefore, it needs to be nicely furnished for a person with that type of funds to rent.

Well, on the very next day, I saw this article in Phoenix Home and Garden, May 2018. I know that you no doubt have a local magazine or the like that is full of wonderful - well, homes and gardens. Here is the vase that caught my attention:

By Carly Scholl | Photography by Rick Gayle

At first I thought that the photo was a white vase decorated with gold. After reading Carly Scholl's article, I realized that it was a broken vase that had a BEAUTIFUL repair that actually made the vase more terrific and especially interesting. You can read the instructions at the link above.

This project is called -


Kintsugi or Kintsukuroi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique. As a philosophy it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.

Kintsugi is also applied to your life. No matter that your life is not perfect, it is just part of your personal history. Check it out on any Search Engine. (BTW, to find SE's that DON"T TRACK YOU, check here.)

So, what did that have to do with embroidery?? I have created the Freebie for this time to give you a method to decorate or repair something that you enjoy and/or want to embellish.

Before you download the file (4x4 in 3mm) I highly recommend Badgemaster for your stabilizer. You already know I am a big fan of Badgemaster where using a single sheet to fit your hoop is the most sturdy, dependable stabilizer for this project. If you are going to use some other water-soluble stabilizer, please plan to use at least two sheets and possibly three sheets to have a successful outcome. See my blog on Badgemaster use and the Badgemaster blog by SewBlessed.

This photo shows that a lot of stitches have been set into a very small area.

You can see that Badgemaster has no holes, no failures despite the number of stitches.

Here are tips to keep in mind -
  1. Badgemaster will be your best bet for these delicate 'strings.'
  2. There are approximately 1,900 stitches per string for the 3/8" (3mm) by 4" (100mm) size.
  3. I have digitized this so you can use one thread for the 'underlay' and another for the top, such as when you are working with the metallic. It has two color stops.
  4. If your metallic is a little low, you can use a similar color for the underlay. Metallic tends to show its underwear - oops, make that underlay.
  5. Start with a sharp/new needle. There is no time like the present to change it.
  6. I have used metallic for the bobbin with perfect results. I did slow down the machine (advised when using metallic) and did not have any breaks. That metallic was terrific on both sides.
  7. These can be bent and likely can have somewhat sharp angles. I did not have the time to work with the strings. I do have one curved.
  8. Practice, different threads, machines and other issues can and do arise. However, I did 6 sets of the items before I was satisfied with the quality of the outcome.
  9. I will be using lighter colors in the future. They show so much more detail.

Did I mention that I was a little short of time?? The result is that you are seeing tape on this flame-less candle.

Here is the file for the 3mm size:

I did not have time to finish the 4mm and 6mm. Keep an eye on this site and I will have them for you 9/8/2018.

Thanks for your time, I know how busy we all are!!
Pat, The Avid Embroiderer
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