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  • Karen Ives

A smocking journey..........

I can remember making some little smocked dresses for my daughter some 30+ years ago and really wanted to add this effect to my Granddaughters Christening Gown.


I remembered it being easy! ........


This is my journey ......


So my fading memory said to me that you can buy an iron on transfer for smocking dots, this was not so easy and I was unable to find anything reasonably priced or in the UK. I'll make my own I thought.


I set about marking a grid on some thin card with rows 1 cm apart and columns 1/2 cm apart. I pierced through the dots to mark the fabric.


This was quite time consuming and didn't mark the fabric very well, but was a starting point for measuring. I already knew i would need 3 times the fabric width to gather neatly. In reality this meant I needed the dress front to be 36 inches wide.


This presented a problem as the dress would be too full for a little one just walking and I didn't have enough of the vintage lace I was using.


Test sample with 3 x width attached to bodice

Now I am going to work out how to splice a panel of smocking into the bodice of a commercial dress pattern so that the smocking fits underneath the armhole and is attached to the shortened bodice at the top and the skirt at the bottom.

working out the amount of fabric required to fit the pattern

So I shortened the bodice and then worked out how much fabric I needed to fit the front of the bodice. I worked this on a 10 inch test strip so I could easily multiply to fit!


I then decided to re draw the dots as I found a website where you could print dotty paper called printable paper.net. I printed a sheet with dots 1/2 cm wide columns and rows then went over the dots with a heat transferable crayon to get the dots on the fabric.


some time later......


A little maths




Trying the dots a different way

Now it was time to map out a design onto the paper, a chart to refer to. I started by working out how many rows would neatly fit in the bodice space. Then I researched a lot of designs ...... boy were they complicated!


I settled on something quite simple , a honeycomb design ......



Working out the stitches


the embroidery nearly finished

I did find out that you should do some holding stitches on the reverse of the smocking to hold your neat pleats in place as you work. This was simply done as a top and bottom row of a back stitch which caught all the tops of the pleats.


Then it was time to sit back and enjoy the embroidery......


Here is the finished dress with the panel inserted.




I hope this blog post might give yo some ideas for adding smocking to a garment.


Happy sewing


Karen x












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