Hi there, I am Jessica’s Mom and today I am going to give you a brief introduction to the art of English smocking. I fell in love with this style of children’s clothing when my girls were very young and have enjoyed designing and constructing many beautiful garments over the years. And now I am thrilled to have a beautiful granddaughter to smock for!
Basically, the smocking affect is created by hand stitching on top of pleated fabric. The possibilities for designs are endless, from simple, simple geometric designs (easier than cross-stitch) to detailed picture smocking of really any subject….frogs, teddy bears, snowmen, mermaids….. you name it!
Smocking can be described as embroidery stitches on top of tiny pleats. If you are brand new to this art I suggest that you purchase a garment that is already pleated and constructed. All you need to do is the hand stitching! There are a number of web-sites that sell these, but they can be pricey. I have purchased some “ready to smock” garments on e-bay - they are very reasonable and I have been pleased with them. Search “smocking” or “ready-to smock” on e-bay.
If you are interested in pleating your own garments, you will need a pleater. A pleater is a small hand-cranked piece of equipment that holds the needles that pleat the fabric. You can purchase online here. I suggest that you purchase a book - that will give you all the information you need to begin. Two books that I can recommend are:
Sew Cute Couture: Create Adorable Embellished Jackets with Matching Dresses, Skirts and Shirts
Beautiful Bishops: Nine Glorious Garments
Both of these books include multi-sized dress patterns and smocking instructions.
Overall, realize that you will be making a timeless piece of clothing, and always use high quality fabrics. Cottons work well, imperial broadcloth and even dupioni silk also work, just don’t choose a fabric that is too thick or it won’t pleat nicely. Ok, here is the process for preparing a bishop style dress to smock:
Cut out the 2 backs, the front and the 2 sleeves, stitch together at the sleeve seams and lay out wrong side up.
Thanks Momma! Charlotte and I both love all of the things you make her and we love you!