Some stitchers prefer a tapestry needle (size 26 or 24). A crewel/embroidery size 8 or 10 works equally as well. Care must be taken not to pierce the threads of the fabric.

An alternative to the graphic showing reverse herring bone (below) is to work on the reverse side of the fabric with ordinary herringbone stitch (which starts at the left side of the design). A few stitchers prefer this method. If you have trouble executing shadow embroidery as outlined here, you may wish to try that method.

If you are unfamiliar with herringbone stitch, please refer to a basic embroidery dictionary to help you grasp the following more quickly

shadowwork1

Tulip.  A work in progress adorning a ladies handkerchief. Notice the tiny, evenly spaced shadow embroidered rows within the central petal. The stitches were counted on this example, to be an even 10 along the row’s length. These rows are divided by feather stitch.

shadowworkA

The basic reverse herringbone stitch. Beginning from the right side of the design, bring thread up at arrow, down at A. Up at 2, down at B, etc. Running stitches appear on the surface. The dotted lines indicate the threads as they cross on the back side of the material.

shadowworkB

This graphic shows how you would work an area, such as a leaf, with a line through the middle. The arrows show the steps to complete the first half.

shadowworkC

Partial completion of the leaf design. Notice how the threads in the second half use the SAME HOLES down the center line as the top embroidery stitches. Always finish the top half before embarking on the lower portion (second step).

shadowworkD

Circles, squares and similar elements present special planning. Begin by back stitching at the right side. You may need to use more or less back stitches dependent upon the element being stitched.

shadowworkE

After the initial back stitching, reverse herring bone is applied as shown. You may or may not have to back stitch when you reach the left edge of the element.

shadowworkF

In the half circle illustrated, it takes 11 stitches of equal length to cover the same ground as the bottom line (8 equal stitches). In these situations, it is not possible to keep the stitches of equal length. The embroiderer must make the stitches slightly longer in the arched line to compensate.