Machine Shadow Embroidery-Design and Tutorial Sources

Work in progress...machine shadow embroidered spoke collar, definitely not-yet-ready-for-prime-time.  The fabric is coffee dyed Swiss organdy.  The dress will be made of  burgundy velveteen.

Work in progress…machine shadow embroidered spoke collar, definitely not-yet-ready-for-prime-time. The fabric is coffee dyed Swiss organdy. The dress will be made of burgundy velveteen.


I’m busily working on Christmas outfits for my grandchildren and have started with a shadow work collar for Laurel.  Pictured above, it is fresh out of the embroidery hoop, in need of a good soak to get rid of the blue Dixon lines and the UltraSolvy water soluble stabilizer.  But you get the idea.


collar with hand stitched shadow work

collar with hand stitched shadow work


Shadow embroidery is one of my favorite needlework techniques.  Several earlier posts feature this technique both by hand and by hooped machine embroidery.

machine shadow embroidered baby pillow


As I sat in front of my big Brother Duetta (as opposed to Laurel’s little Brother 300SE), watching it do all the work, I recalled that readers  have commented that they cannot find machine shadow work designs for sale. So I did a little sleuthing before writing this post and located  some sources.




Suzanne Hinshaw, who developed and patented this technique, no longer sells  them.  However, a few of her collections are still available at AllBrands, including  gorgeous Shadowed Bouquets and Charming Embellishments, which is the source of the designs on the collar. FYI, it is my understanding that when these few sets are gone, there will be no more.

A set of two of Suzanne’s designs for holiday towels (linen) are available at Heirlooms Forever at half price.

Brer Rabbit Designs now has a variety of lovely shadow work designs for sale. This site belongs to Laurie Anderson of Southern Stitches, who regularly contributes to Sew Beautiful magazine.  Everything she makes is beautiful so it’s probably a safe bet to say that her shadow work designs are too.

So for those of you who might like to  try shadow work by embroidery machine, you can purchase designs at these sites.  There is an excellent tutorial at Nancy Zeiman’s site, along with information about her new book with a gorgeous shadow work floral heart design included.




I look forward to telling you more about my grandchildren’s Christmas outfits.  There is an interesting story about the spectacular lace for Laurel’s collar and a recipe for dying the organdy to a soft ivory. And I would love to hear about your projects.

What are you making for Christmas?

8 responses to “Machine Shadow Embroidery-Design and Tutorial Sources

  1. I have always been intrigued by Shadow Work, especially as it relates to the embroidery machine. I have one of the first designs that Suzanne Hinshaw came out with in 1999. The directions at that time looked so daunting, I didn’t attempt it. The designs were on floppy discs! But lately I found some designs by Jenny Haskins…Twin Needle Shadow Work by Machine. I have yet to try them but they are on my “to-do” list (along with thousands of other things).

  2. The collar is going to be beautiful! What are the boys wearing?

    My Christmas dresses are finished and hanging on hangers, ready to be delivered this weekend! No fancy velveteen and lace this year…just fun.

  3. I, too, have been interested in Jenny Haskins’ twin needle shadow work. But I read on-line that they don’t work on Brother/Babylock machines (at least some) because the required twin needle is 3.0. The embroidery foot cannot accommodate that size without breaking the needle. When I get a free minute, I’m going to see if that’s true on my Duetta and/or ULT 2003D. The designs are so lovely that I would really like to be able to stitch them. Let me know if you find out anything about that, Shirley.

  4. The dresses are finished and hanging?!#$%&!!! You are my hero! I’m really scrambling to get these done. The boys will be coordinated with the use of some burgundy velveteen (that’s why I can’t use pink like your gorgeous dresses last year) and a nice Viyella plaid with burgundy and deep green. Robert, 6, will be wearing big boy clothes, dress pants with a vest of those two fabrics. Alastair, 2, will probably just have velveteen shorts and a Ginger Snaps Hudson heirloom shirt, which doesn’t get tucked in. I need to figure out how to include the Viyella. I’d prefer a JonJon or button-on, but his independent nature requires no-help/ quick access for potty runs.

  5. I have a Janome 10001 and am wanting to try this if I am able to find a pattern. I enjoy seeing the work you are doing.

  6. Virginia, you would just love doing shadow work with the embroidery unit. Check out the designs that are available from Laurie Anderson’s Brer Rabbit designs. It would be wonderful to use Suzanne Hinshaw’s designs as well, but they are only available on rare occasions in stores which find a set in the stock room.

  7. I am working on a paper for school, the question is, describe three types of shadow work that is not trapunto. I came up with shadow embroidery and shadow applique. Can you tell me another? Would it be dimentional shadow work? some on the underside, some on the outside?

  8. Kay, this had me stumped until I thought perhaps the question is really asking for different means to achieve genuine shadow work, which is nothing more than having threads from the back shadow through sheer fabric to create color on the front. That would disqualify shadow applique but not trapunto where threads can be stuffed behind sheer fabric. But there are many techniques that might be satisfactory answers to the question. 1. shadow embroidery by hand, 2. shadow embroidery by embroidery machine (underlying stitches are worked through a washaway stabilizer or a second fabric (see, 3. shadow embroidery by sewing machine using a twin (see and even 4. shadow embroidery by serger, a technique developed by Margaret Tully. Googling these techniques would surely give you more information. I hope this helps.

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