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Tips & Techniques > Stabilizing machine smocking.

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Posted by: Diane Yaghoobian

About Diane Yaghoobian star
Member since: 8/24/02
Reviews: 25 (tips: 11)
Skill level:Intermediate
Favored by: 2 people
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Posted on: 8/13/03 1:15 AM
Review Rating: Helpful by 2 people   
The Elna website (and a few others) have directions for machine smocking. After pleating the fabric (with a pleater or whatever method you use) they have you fix it in place with fusible interfacing. Most machines have some stitches, starting with the triple straight (a stretch stitch) that resemble geometric smocking stitches, and you use the lovely rayon or polyester embroidery threads. Problem is how stiff it is with that fusible interfacing, and also that the design stitch can get lost in the folds. I solve the former problem by using, instead, iron-on tear-away stabilizer (Totally Stable, etc) that comes off when I'm done and it's softer, stretchier, more like hand smocking. The other problem is solved by using soluble stabilizer on top (Solvy, etc). I use old bits and pieces (which I've saved in a ziplock bag) on top of the fabric and the stitching is much nicer. They tell you to use matching thread in your pleater since you will not be removing your pleating threads, but I disagree. I have been doing it but if you are trying to align your design, you can't see them as guidelines, and pulling out the pleater threads after you're done also helps to make the machine smocking softer and more pliable, and it's no more difficult than it usually is for me when I hand smock.

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