Friday, April 9, 2010

Smocking on Gingham

This, I think, is my new obsession.
Well, one of my new obsessions, anyway.

In my old age, I have rediscovered smocking.
I say "old" because the last time I did this was in Homec
at the tender age of 13. I did not like smocking then.
Either it was a Homec thing, or I had the impaired
judgement of a teenager. Or both.

It's easy and fast and can be done while watching TV.
Although I don't watch TV much nowadays, except
maybe to catch the Twins (that's baseball) in season.
I do my smocking in the kitchen while waiting for the
toast to pop up, in the car in Emily's school carpark,
on the road to the in-laws when I'm not the one driving.

Auntie Laura taught this to me last month while I was
in Singapore. It was all new to me - it's funny how a person
remembers nothing at all from Homec. I like smocking this
way - no pleating machine, no ironing, no basting, no sticky
dots or transfer dots or whatever - just a needle and
DMC No. 5 thread, and daylight to stitch under.

This is just a pocket. I will try and learn the names of these
stitches - I am in the very bad habit of just using them and
not knowing what they are called. The white ones are (I think)
a cable foundation stitch, to hold the pleats in place. The blue
upside down hearts are two stitches - the upper stitch is
a wave stitch (I think) and the bottom
is another cable stitch (I also think).

The pocket belongs to this dress - or at least to this yoke.

A combination of stitches, including the same ones in
the pocket, and some small honeycomb stitches below.
Gingham is so fun to play with - you can make stripes
and triangles all with the little squares, depending on
how you gather them in the pattern.
All nice and stretchy besides!

Incidentally, these are very shallow pleats-
the result of the size of the checks (1/4") in
this gingham. Deeper pleats i.e. stretchier,
can be made with bigger checks (like 1/2").

Polka dot fabric for the next smocking project!

OK, those are all the photos I have.
These disparate parts need to become a dress today!


  1. Really pretty! Is there a no-equipment necessary smocking tutorial on your list of things to do? :-) I'm just too intimidated (or is it laaazy?) to do it the way I see it in books...

  2. That looks like a lot of fun to do. Well, my idea of fun anyway. I only know how to do the simple honeycomb smocking. Do you fancy showing us how to do some of those nice decorative stitches you've got in there? Hand sewing is my meditation it seems. It would be nice to add smocking to the toolbelt.

  3. I love how smocking looks! I just recently started trying it too. I have only tried the honeycomb version but would love to try some more versions. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I would love to get into smocking, but I just don't know where to start? Any suggestions....

  5. Beautiful work, I love that blue gingham! I love making smocked gingham aprons - I used to teach a beginning smocking class where we made an apron. So much fun!

  6. I love it... I want to learn how to do smocking. A few days ago I was looking for a tutorial, but can find one I like...
    Can you make one??

  7. My grandmother used to make aprons with smocked gingham like this. I love it!!! Can't wait to see your finished project. Love & blessings from NC!

  8. I was at an awkward Christmas party once when a stranger showed me several years' worth of family pictures in which everyone wore matching smocked outfits (boys included). It was rather vomitous. Smocking didn't appeal to me after that.

    However, I'm excited to see what you, the non-frilly, are making of it (: Maybe you'll tempt my embroidering side.

  9. I second the request for a tutorial... :-D

  10. I especially love how the pocket looks! So cute! I remember having smocked dresses as a kid and that I totally loved it! It looks like so much work though ...

  11. Wow! That is so sweet looking. I love gingham in the first place, but add the smocking and I'd like to swoon! Can't wait to see the finished project.

  12. this looks like american smocking. my mom does this type called english smocking that you have to run the fabric through pleater first, and the pleats are held together with thread, then when you are done smocking you pull the threads out.

  13. OH MY GOSH!! I can't believe I FINALLY found this tutorial! THANK YOU for posting this! I ALSO learned how to do hand-smocking like this back in 1973 in Home Ec class, when I was 13 and I have forgotten how I did it! I have been playing around with a darn piece of gingham trying to recreate it with no luck. When I was 13 and after learning how to do this, I made a large pillow in the exact same COLOR as the light blue color you show here! It was really beautiful and I kept it for many years before tiring of it and throwing it out which I later regretted deeply. Thank you SO MUCH!!

  14. I also learned to smock from a lady whose children I watched. I can't find anything like it. It too was a pillow cover and was done on the either 1 inch or 1/2 inch gingham. I took a class recently that was not even close to what I learned at 17 years of age. We didn't mark a thousand dots and somehow caught the four corners to the middle and might even have caught in between the corners. I just can't remember.


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