Linen Machine Shadow Embroidered Pillow




I love projects for babies and this is one of my favorites.  From design to execution, this linen pillow has some interesting details. The open ends of the pillowcase offer the opportunity to give more balance to the overall design, with color and embroidery at both ends.

The handwork techniques used on this baby accessory look convincingly like they were stitched in the traditional manner, but they were all done entirely by machine. Thanks to the miracle advances in sewing notions and machine technology, Madeira appliqué, feather stitch, pinwheel roses and shadow embroidery are quickly, easily and quite perfectly done.

Suzanne Hinshaw’s technique for shadow embroidery by machine changed a somewhat tedious, time consuming but beautiful form of needlework to a never tedious, always quick and beautiful needleart. For details on the technique itself, refer to my earlier post, machine shadow embroidered pillow. Some of Suzanne’s designs are available from  Allbrands.

The design on this pillow is perfect for a monogram. When I made it, Suzanne’s monogram collection was not yet available. I intended to do the initial by hand but never got around to it.






The Madeira appliqué hems at the open ends of the pillow are done with the fabulous YLI water soluble thread. To work this technique, you must have a symmetrical design, one with a center axis, one that can be mirrored from one side to the other.

In order to stitch the hem, the blue linen fabric is cut wider than the hem to allow for seam allowances. In this case it was cut 3″ x 27″. It is then starched and pressed until crisp then folded in half, rendering a piece 3″ x 13 1/2″. The scallop border is traced with a Dixon washout marker, NOT a blue water soluble marker, on one half only, from the fold to the far raw edge.  If a blue marker is used, the combination of heat and steam in later steps may make the marks bleed and become permanent.

With washaway thread in the needle only, you stitch directly on the traced line, through both layers of linen. The next step is to trim away 1/4″ above the scallop and clip the curves. Press on the side without the blue Dixon marker, making certain that that the iron does not hit the washaway thread, as the heat will melt it.

The piece is then turned right side out and the points are gently poked up with a point turner. Press again, taking care to get the seam exactly on the fold. When all is well, the points are sharp, curves are smooth and the seam is not showing from either side, spritz a section with water and press. Do not iron or move the iron. Simply press with a hot iron and keep the iron in place until the linen is absolutely dry. Spritz another section and repeat the process until the entire piece has been steamed and pressed.  Then, gently turn it over and press again, to be certain that there is no residual dampness.

At that point, the washaway thread will have dissolved from the spritzing and subsequent steam so you can gently open the hem piece. You will have a perfectly turned under raw edge and a pressed scalloped edge ready to apply as a Madeira hem. Place the right side of the hem to the wrong side of the pillowcase, seam, then turn up the hem. Baste it in place and then attach it with a pin stitch or other decorative stitching.

The feather stitching mirrors the pattern of the scallop. Since it is hard to pivot a feather stitch so that it looks neat, a pinwheel rose has been worked over the place at which it meets the Madeira point.  This very useful little design is from the design collection Fil Tire’ and Fancywork Elements by Suzanne Sawko and me.


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