Wendy Week Day 3: An Excerpt from the Book (Plus another giveaway!)

Welcome to Day 3 of Wendy Week here at the Sew Beautiful blog! With the release of designer Wendy Schoen’s new book Mastering Shadow Work Embroidery, we’re honoring the renowned artist and teacher with a week of special promotions and giveaways. Join us on the blog every day this week for exclusive book previews, an interview with Wendy, and our awesome giveaway contests – a different one each day!

Today we are giving away an entire year of lessons from Wendy Schoen’s Embroidery Club (2004), a current retail value of $105.00! Details follow the stitch instructions below.

Not quite sure what shadow work embroidery is or how it works? Today’s post is for you. We are excited to share a short excerpt with you from the introductory portion of Mastering Shadow Work Embroidery, including a brief introduction to shadow work and a few of the “must-know” stitches you’ll need to get started. Enjoy!

What is Shadowwork?
This lovely, delicate embroidery technique is most often found in white work and Broderie Anglaise embroideries dating back to the 18th Century. The technique is believed to be of Indian origin and until the 19th Century was worked exclusively in white on white fabric. Technically known as closed herringbone stitch and traditionally worked from the wrong side of the fabric, the stitch is worked over the finger in a sewing motion.

Herringbone stitch is worked along two parallel boundaries alternately, having one stitch placed on the first boundary, and the next on the second boundary. The stitches are always taken in back-stitch motion and worked from one boundary to the other alternately. They are aligned so each stitch shares the hole of the previous stitch on respective boundaries.

Once the work is completed, it is turned over to the right side to reveal a continuous row of backstitches along the outline of the design. Between the boundaries, a band of color shows through the semi-transparent fabric in a shadow-like effect, which results from the dragging of the threads from one boundary to the other. Because of this, the technique is most commonly referred to as shadow work and the stitch is called shadow stitch.

Used as a fill-in stitch, the work is brilliant for stitching flower petals, ribbons and bow shapes. Beautiful swirling shapes and long linear shapes look feminine and romantic, making the technique the perfect complement to baby wear and lingerie. Worked with broader shapes, such as those found in nature, shadow work leaves and flowers work up quickly and are quite attractive, especially for household linens.

Currently, it is more common to see shadow work with colored threads. The introduction of colored threads has changed the character of the technique immensely and the shapes have become more complicated to stitch, therefore working from the right side is the easiest method of stitching. This method of closed herringbone is most often referred to as shadow work.

Contrary to shadow stitch embroidery from yesteryear, the technique of shadow work is a bit different. Small motifs take shape and beautiful pastels are the norm in this new way of stitching the shadow designs. The technique has made enormous strides in the past several years and has evolved into a technique unique to itself. No longer worked from the wrong side of the fabric, the back-stitch is best when worked in an embroidery hoop.

As you will notice, almost without exception, the motifs in this book were designed for embellishing infants and children’s garments. This glorious technique is perfect for adding just a little embellishment to tiny garments, without fear of over-powering the delicate nature of its intended use.

For more information on shadow work embroidery and for many more detailed stitch instructions, designs, tips and patterns, get your hands on a copy of Mastering Shadow Work Embroidery (20% off all week!) and get stitching! For now, here is a short exerpt from the book showing a few of the must-know stitches for getting started with shadow work.

Shadow Work (Closed Herringbone), simply said, is basically a Backstitch. The backstitch is taken alternately from one boundary point to another. The stitches are lined up head to toe with every two stitches sharing a common hole. Usually the stitches are very short, less than 1/16” long, and it is important that they be stitched carefully so as not to “jump the track” of the stitching line. The stitches look pretty when they are placed exactly on the drawn line so take extra care to trace your design exactly.

Working along the design line with one strand of floss, tie on with a split-backstitch directly on the design line. Take a short stitch from A to B and out at C, a stitch length away from B, covering the tie-on stitch. Each stitch should be placed head to toe, each sharing a hole with the previous stitch.

This term applies to the technique of stitching over an existing stitch. This is only done when two shapes share a common wall. The stitch is taken into the exact two A-B points as the previous section. If the two shapes are the same color, the stitches lay on top of each other. If they are different, they lay side by side, but are still sharing the same holes.

Today we are giving away an entire year of lessons from Wendy Schoen’s Embroidery Club (2004), a current retail value of $105.00! (Learn more about Wendy’s Embroidery Club on her website.)

To enter the contest, simply leave a comment on this blog post below. Be sure you include an email address or contact information so that we can contact you if you’re a winner. Entries will remain open through the rest of Wendy Week and the winners will be drawn at random and announced next Monday, March 14, 2011.

If you are a Sew Beautiful fan, make sure you’ve “liked” our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter to keep up with Wendy Week events (and more). Don’t forget that Martha Pullen Company is also on Facebook and Twitter – you definitely don’t want to miss out on this week’s special deals. While all Wendy Schoen merchandise is on sale in our online store for 20% off all week, MPC will be featuring additional, deeper daily discounts on certain Wendy Schoen products!


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