Archive for the ‘smocking’ Category


Project 41: Done! and lessons learned

November 21, 2011

Finished smocking

Despite the lateness of this post I actually finished this swatch in one afternoon. It has been sitting in my house waiting for me to take a photo. I think I was going to iron it, too, but I didn’t. I’m kind of excited to try a larger smocking project in the future. It’s a neat technique and looks so darn cute when it’s done.

Here is how the swatch looked when I was done embroidering:


You can see my pattern clearly and the dark pleating threads are still intact. The first photo is what happens when you remove the pleating threads. I kind of love it.

Lessons learned:
– Smocking is not difficult. I imagine that hand pleating could be tedious, or a larger piece of fabric in the pleater could get cumbersome,  but the embroidery is kind of fun and the possible patterns are limitless. I’d like to try to make a garment with it some day.
–  With my schedule these days I need to take photos and post right away or it won’t get done.

Stay tuned for project 42!


Project 41: Pleating

November 17, 2011

When Laurie pulled out this odd contraption I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. It had odd rollers and some needles sticking out, but I couldn’t fathom how it would all work together. She had me start threading each needle while she ironed our test piece of fabric.

Next, she wound the fabric around a dowel and we fed the fabric through the pleater. I turned the crank and look what happened:

Perfect little pleats started feeding themselves over the needles! I made Laurie stop so I could snap this picture because it was so neat. This step actually went very quickly. I stopped cranking every few turns to work the bunched up fabric off of the needles and onto the thread. When we were done we had this:

You can see in this photo that I have tied knots in the threads to hold the pleats in. As I worked on the smocking I tied them a bit tighter because I found that these pleats were too loose. Also in this photo you can see the beautiful gather that formed in the fabric below the pleats. Cute!

Check back tomorrow for my finished smocking swatch.


Project 41: The basics

November 16, 2011


After reading up on smocking for a few days it seems like the kind of tool I want in my future sewing arsenal. When I think about sewing garments the one thing that scares me the most is cutting and sewing accurately to get the right fit. Smocking is sort of a shortcut to that. It takes a wide piece of fabric and gathers it to fit snugly. The embroidered designs are just an awesome decorative bonus.

The first step in smocking is pleating the fabric. This can either be done by hand or by using a pleater. The photo above shows blogger Marie Grace hand gathering her pleats. She wrote a great tutorial for anyone who wants to try pleating by hand: Hand Pleating Fabric Tutorial. I’ll show you a photo of a pleater in action tomorrow.

The next step is to embroider the design. The design stitches are what ultimately will hold the pleats in the fabric together. A smocking design is called a smock plate. There are a few free smock plates around the internet. I chose to start with one called Snowflakes by Creations by Michie.

I guess it would be helpful to also get some fabric, thread, and embroidery floss, but Laurie had offered to provide all of that for me (thanks Laurie!).

Now it’s time to smock!

Photo by Marie Grace


Project 41: Smocking

November 14, 2011


I have had smocking on my list of projects ever since my friend Laurie mentioned that not only does she know how to do it, but she also has all of the supplies. So this week I’ll be going over to her house to learn this awesome embroidery technique. My mind is racing with a whole bunch of ambitious sewing ideas incorporating smocking, but this week I’ll just focus on learning the basics.

Wish me luck!

Photo by wildmary on Flickr