|I like smocking, but I don't have a pleater. Hand-pleating bodice width pieces is just not in the cards, so I've gotten pre-pleated pieces off of eBay (great deals like 6 for $10). The problem is what to do with the finished smocking. There are patterns that take an inset, but most of them are very traditional, classic styles. I like to mix it up a little so I've figured out how to use an inset with a non-smocking pattern.
First, complete your smocking piece. You will need to know the finished size of your smocked piece to be able to size it up with your pattern.
To choose an appropriate pattern, use your completed smocking to compare the piece to the bodice of your pattern. You will cut the pattern as you normally would, but you will need to be sure the design will fit with the style of the garment. You may need to unpick some stitches and let the sides of the smocking out a little or you may want to turned them under or use as a rectangular insert in the bodice. That will depend on the sizing of the smocking as well as the garment.
Cut your pattern as normal. Add piping to the top of your smocked piece to stabilize the pleats. Clip excess fabric and turn the piped section so it frames your piece at the top. You may need to repeat the process at the bottom depending how the smocking fits into the garment. Or you can just baste the bottom of the smocked piece to the bodice and let it and the bodice be joined into the skirt on a dress.