Disclaimer: I wasn’t sure if I should share my recent experiments with smocking. It’s still a learning process and there are various flaws in my work – the projects presented bellow are far from being perfect, still, I decided to go ahead and take this opportunity to learn more from my talented readers. Do share your experience (recommendations and tips) with me!
This summer, I put smocking on my “to-do” list. I had a couple of hours everyday all by my own (as per the doctor orders I wasn’t able to enjoy the beach as much as I would love to) and while I couldn’t take the sewing machines with me, smocking was exactly what I was looking for.
In my family, learning to smock passed down from one generation to another, but the tradition stopped before my turn, so I never had anyone to learn from and there aren’t any options for learning it where I live. As such, teaching myself how to smock was the only option.
I had purchased the A-Z Smocking book (highly recommended), watched lots of YouTube videos abut, to be honest, none of attempts is really worth showing it. Still, during the holidays and with enough time to spare, I was finally able to see some progresses – the book helped a lot specially with hand-pleating and basic stitches.
I don’t own a pleater, so I need to hand-pleat every piece of fabric (the most difficult part as it’s very difficult to get regular and even-spaced rows with hand-pleating) and that makes a huge difference in the final result. The obvious tip, is to choose your fabric wisely – i.e. small checks or dots.
With this in mind, I selected a small-checked print for my first attempt (Pink Gingham from Ratucos).
While the fabric made it easier for me (the checks are spaced 3 mm apart), I forgot to leave enough space before staring my first row of smocking and the smocking is not properly placed. Nevertheless, the blouse is wearable and hopefully, I’m the only noticing that ….
I think my second attempt was a bit more successful, as I managed to correct some of my previous mistakes. I went with a plaid fabric (again from Ratucos, but on this one the checks are more widely spaced) I left more space before the top row, but I’m not sure about the thread color – not enough contrast? (in my defense, I didn’t have many options with me and looking for a shop was not an option).
Smocking is quite addictive and apart from the hand-pleating, the actual smocking is really relaxing and calming. Usually I’m always rushing to finish my projects, but this was a gentle reminder for the need of slowing down and enjoying the process. Plus, it feels really good to have something to work while watching my favorites series.
As you can see above, smocking with Liberty was a bit more complicated – the hand-pleating was not perfect (I spaced it 5 mm, which was too much and you can see I kind of rushed it as well) and the final result shows all the flaws…
Both blouses were made using the Agnes blouse from Citronille which is one of my all-time favorite blouse patterns for girls – I’ve posted several non smocked versions here and here (just to name a few). These are a size 10 with added length (should have added a bit more).
I do wish I had learn how to smock a few years ago – my girl is almost 10 and a smocking dress/blouse is not something she looks forward to wear (still I do hope to sew her a Christmas dress – fingers crossed she will wear it).
I have already completed another smocking project, but it will have to wait for another post.