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Hand Smocking

Smocking is an embroidery technique used to gather fabric so that it can stretch. Before elastic, smocking was commonly used in cuffs, bodices, and necklines in garments where buttons were undesirable.

Members: 72
Latest Activity: Jan 31, 2015

About smocking:

Smocking developed in England and has been practiced since the Middle Ages and is unusual among embroidery methods in that it was often worn by laborers. Other major embroidery styles are purely decorative and represented status symbols. Smocking was practical for garments to be both form fitting and flexible, hence its name derives from smock — a farmer's work shirt. Smocking was used most extensively in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

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Sewing Channel Posts

Another Adult Smocking Project

Prompted by the longer length tunics that are in style now, this lightweight linen tunic…Continue

Started by Destashification Jan 31, 2015.

Smocking for Adults 1 Reply

I have always enjoyed smocking - something about taking flat fabric and being able to stitch decoratively and functionally at the same time!…Continue

Started by Destashification. Last reply by Jill Dewar Jun 30, 2012.

Smocked Bishop Tutorial by Laurie Anderson 3 Replies

A smocked bishop dress is a traditional garment for babies and little girls. A bishop dress is a loose fitting, comfortable style dress, and is the easiest smocked garment to construct.  SWN…Continue

Tags: tutorial, heirloom, bishop, dress, bishop's

Started by Susan. Last reply by Laurie Anderson Oct 29, 2010.

A demonstration of smocking embroidery. 8 Replies

Stitches labeled as follows:A-cable stitchB-stem stitchC-outline stitchD-cable floweretteE-wave stitchF-honeycomb stitchG-surface honeycomb stitchH-trellis stitchI-vandyke stitchJ-buillion…Continue

Tags: surface, honeycomb, trellis, vandyke, buillion

Started by Susan. Last reply by annamc Jun 13, 2009.

Comment Wall

Comment by Susan Pinder on May 22, 2009 at 6:37pm
This is something I have always wanted to learn but never could master it.
Comment by Gwen Evans on May 26, 2009 at 3:37pm
Pleating and smocking take lots of practice. I practiced on pleated pieces before attempting construction. It is one of the most relaxing things i do. Find a good teacher who will take you from the pleating process to the constructed garment.

Gwen Evans
Comment by Keryl Thomas on May 26, 2009 at 7:56pm
I have been a hand smocker for years and taught some classes in South Africa. I am especially proud of three little flower girl dresses smocked on cream broiderie anglaise fabric. so the little girls were able to wear the dresses as party dresses. I then did a doll with the same pattern for the bride to put on her bed.
Comment by Karen Gass on May 27, 2009 at 9:20am
I have the dots that you iron on, and have done one small piece for a doll dress with the iron on dots. I didn't think it was hard, but I only know 1 stitch to use. I need to learn more stitches! :)
Comment by Ann Hirsch on May 27, 2009 at 11:07am
I use a pleater for all my smocking. It takes a little practice but produces very even pleats.
Comment by Karen Gass on May 27, 2009 at 11:20am
If I were buying my first pleater, what would I look for? I've seen them for sale here and there, but without having experience, I'm not sure what to buy and what I should forego.
Comment by Suzie Lambert on May 27, 2009 at 11:28am
Don't bother with the super duper big one. Mine has something like 24 needles. I've only ever used 9 at most. So I think they have 16 row pleaters. That is probably more than sufficient. I like using the pleater rather than pleating by hand only because it is faster and i can get to the smocking faster!
Comment by Jill Dewar on May 27, 2009 at 9:20pm
thanks for asking that question Karen, I was thinking the same thing! Loved your answer Suzie, now I know what to look for!
Comment by Ann Hirsch on May 28, 2009 at 10:56am
I agree with Suzie the small one is quite sufficient.
Comment by iluvmysix on August 21, 2009 at 2:50pm

This blog has some wonderful info about hand smocking.


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