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Forum > Creative Sewing > I've been bitten by the smocking bug! ( Moderated by Lynnelle)

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I've been bitten by the smocking bug!
meleliza
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meleliza  Friend of PR
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Date: 7/16/13 8:24 PM

It's such a charming and lovely technique I simply can't wait a any longer to learn how. I have a concept in my head for a little girls portrait dress to which I would like to add some very simple smocking stitches. I'm pretty good at hand sewing in general, so I'm not afraid of the work.

I would like to know what kinds of fabric I should consider for better results smocking. I'd also like to know what kinds of stitch patterns are easier. And if anyone has tips to share or advice to offer on getting started, I would be very happy to hear them!

I've read old threads here for some ideas and found a really great tutorial online from Marie Grace designs. I'm going to look at some books too.

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Melanie

sewme47
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sewme47
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Date: 7/16/13 8:57 PM

I learned to smock from books back in the early '90s when my kids were little. Martha Pullen has tons of how-to information and supplies...A DVD might be helpful to get started. Her line of batiste fabrics would be great for a first project. Do you have a pleater? It's worth the investment and will make smocking a joy!

Martha Pullen website

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A balanced diet is a cupcake in each hand.

Mole Princess
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Date: 7/16/13 9:32 PM

Certain patterned fabrics supply you with guides for your initial pleat-making stitches. So with polka dots or checks or stripes you may not have to mark dots to guide your gathering.

It's nice if the fabric is quite light weight

It's a beautiful technique and as a bonus, the work you do will even have a bit of stretch.

Enjoy!

Doris W. in TN
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Doris W. in TN  Friend of PR
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In reply to meleliza <<


Date: 7/16/13 10:34 PM

Quote: meleliza

I would like to know what kinds of fabric I should consider for better results smocking.

Natural fiber fabrics (100% cotton) will pleat up the best.

Lightweight like batiste will also give you the best results.

SandiMacD
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SandiMacD  Friend of PR
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Subject: Ive been bitten by the smocking bug! Date: 7/17/13 5:09 AM

We have a Chapter of the American Smocking Guild in our area. They could also give you some great tips and information.

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sewing brings joy and meaning to my life...

Pamela R
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Pamela R  Friend of PR
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Subject: Ive been bitten by the smocking bug! Date: 7/17/13 5:41 AM

I always take a needle and thread with me and try pulling it through a few (4) layers of the fabric in question. Sometimes a poly blend is nice to work with as it will not wrinkle as much with washing, and prices are better

marymary86
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Date: 7/17/13 5:49 AM

I used to smock when my children were small. I enjoy it so much! I just did bishop dresses. The girls flew through that stage just as I was learning so I never branched out to anything else related to smocking.

I agree that 100% cotton is the best though I found Swiss batiste a bit more challenging (the fabric is so fine). I think the prettiest dresses I smocked were from thinner cottons that could have been sold for making quilts. It was fun to buy a print and see how it transformed after being smocked.

I would buy a small amount (unless you're crazy about the fabric) and pleat a panel. You can use it to practice the stitches you want to use. If it works well, then just make sure a sample seam will go through the pleater.

If you're going to have your fabric pleated at a store, they'll help guide you through your fabric choices.

Have fun!!

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Mary


solosmocker
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solosmocker
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Subject: Ive been bitten by the smocking bug! Date: 7/17/13 8:10 PM

My recommendation for your first attempt would be a quality quilting cotton. The print will hide your faux pas, and there will be some the first time around! Save your batiste efforts for when you have a bit more experience. Batiste is quite fine and needs to be beefed up for the pleats to hold up next to each other properly. This is done with a light interfacing. I will try to find a print quilting cotton dress pic on my blog and post it for you just so you can get the idea.

The idea of getting some good DVDs or books is great. I taught myself this way and it is not hard to do. My favorite book for learning to smock is the A-Z of Smocking by Country Bumpkin publications in Australia. It has EVERYTHING in it you need to know. You may be able to find one on Ebay or Amazon. They are no longer being printed, from what I understand, are are worth every penny. Good luck. Off to find some pics.

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http://lasewist.blogspot.com/

solosmocker
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In reply to meleliza <<
thumbsup 1 member likes this.


Date: 7/17/13 8:22 PM

Here's a couple of pics. The first has just a bit of smocking. Both are made with nice quilting cottons.




I started out with fine fabrics, more the "heirloom" look type, and found them a bit more difficult to work with than these cottons. Also, the expense is minimal compared to a fine batiste. I cannot stress enough to use 100% natural fibers with your smocking. It will be much easier than using poly or blends. You can later graduate to the finer more expensive fabrics if you like. This is all my personal opinion from my experience and I know others will entertain other ideas and that is fine. There are always several opinions when it comes to sewing and the fact is they are all usually right in one way or another. If you want to see any more smocked garments you can search out on my blog, La Sewista, but here on Pattern Review are quite a few as well and they are all together.
Solosmocker's reviews

Welcome to this wonderful art. It can get addictive and I am sure you will totally enjoy it. Do you have a pleater yet?
-- Edited on 7/17/13 8:24 PM --
-- Edited on 7/17/13 8:26 PM --

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http://lasewist.blogspot.com/

meleliza
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meleliza  Friend of PR
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Date: 7/17/13 9:17 PM

Yes, those fine fabrics are more challenging, aren't they? I worked with some fine cotton organdy earlier this year and it was challening.

It seems the recommendation is for not just natural fibers, but crisp, stable ones that are light but not too lightweight? I was thinking perhaps a cotton lawn for this project? Batiste, while lovely seems limited to pastels. God knows Ive got more quilting cotton than I know what to do with to practice on.

So I've heard that pleaters are so hard to work with they're not worth the trouble. Or expense! I've tried a few complicated feet on my sewing machine and found the same thing is true, so I tend to believe this.

------
Melanie

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