I started Molly’s Easter dress thinking that the smocking would take me a long time… But it turned out to be so addictive and easy that I totally just powered through the whole thing. I guess it’s nice that it’s done. Now to focus on lots of other things.
Since I finished this dress and have shown it to friends and family and internet people, I’ve had a couple people ask questions about smocking so I just wanted to put a couple links up about it. I found it a bit hard to gather information when I first started and I’m hoping this will help anyone else who wants to learn.
First things first, you have to pleat the fabric to smock it. I totally didn’t know that when I started. There are smocking stitches, like the honey comb stitch (like this tutorial) where the stitch brings the fabric together but if you want the kind of smocking a like on a bishop dress, you do have to pleat.
You can hand pleat, as shown here. This is how I started. Another great way to learn how to pleat by hand is Liesl Gibson’s smocked necklace on Creativebug. I’m a member at Creativebug and I absolutely love it (although my messy house does not love it as much as I do).
Now if you really like smocking, I would recommend a smocking pleater. I have one, given to me as a hand-me-down. New ones can be kind of pricey at about $200 but you can find great quality used ones if you hunt around too. Just make sure it comes with (or you also purchase or be prepared to make) some type of board to put the pleater on that will hold all of your threads steady.
Once your fabric is pleated, you simply add the smocking stitches. There are so many smocking plates out on the internet to use or you can play around with some sample fabric and come up with your own design. Thus how the scallops on this Easter Dress where born. Also, as a final note, if you are starting, try a nice geometric smocking pattern. The picture smocking is beautiful but not a great thing to try to learn on!
And there you have it! Some great things to get you going on smocking! Let me know if you have any questions or would like more information.