We were on holiday last week and during the week I tried out some modern (non-traditional) smocking techniques like the one I used for the pockets of my Ishi dress. I didn't know smocking would be this month's challenge, I simply was trying to pass the time without my sewing machine. On the Frances & Suzanne blog they posted a few posts on smocking (with foresight of course) and I though that such a time consuming technique would be perfect for holiday evenings. I didn't find a (free) English style smock pattern that I loved and I didn't really understand how much fixation a smock would need on the back side, so I didn't try an English smock. But then, like a sign, my parents-in-law gave me the A to Z smocking book last Friday. I decided to keep my modern smocking ideas on ice, and make an English smocked dress.
While flipping through the pages of the book I decided to go for an easy raster pattern. I wouldn't know where they pre-pleat fabric around here, so I pleated by hand as well. To make the pleating and smocking as easy as possible, I chose a fabric with a small repeated square and dot pattern. This fabric is Wicky Pikes from Soft Cactus and really perfect for smocking. The fabric is very light and due to the repeated pattern it was very easy to determine the position of the stitches. Smocking this piece took me a few hours (pleating included), by far not as long as I had expected.
I decorated the raster with some small flowers. The flower pattern is from the book. It looked very easy, but I had a hard time with pulling my needle through 20 loops. I decided that these five flowers were enough. I put a small bead on them (following the book's example).
This is my first smocking piece and I wasn't following a garment pattern, so I had no clue how wide the end result would be. When pleated, the hole thing was very narrow, but I knew smock is supposed to give a nice elasticized piece. When I took out the supporting threads, and saw everything remained together nicely, the next phase could start. What would it become and for whom?
The stretch of the smock was big enough to make a dress for my eldest. I drafted a dress pattern based on an existing dress and a sleeves set from an Ottobre pattern. I am satisfied with the dress but I am considering creating one or two extra lines of smocking. The bodice is now relatively short.
The smocked fabric was a (large) scrap piece, I used it earlier here, and I didn't have enough to make the back of a dress from the same fabric. I also feared that the dress would become too sweet for a seven year old that way, the light pink smocked fabric needed a more spicy accent. I looked through my stash and found a knit piece that had a similar vibe as my smock (bought as a coupon without a brand name). That reddish fabric combines great with the little accents on the main pink fabric. I sewed a little piece of pink jersey at the top of my smocked panel to be able to cut a full front dress piece. I created the small curve intentionally.
The front is the best side of this dress. The back is a bit strange, the front is wider and is visible from the back. I have to get used to it a bit, but my daughter immediately liked the dress (she never sees the back anyway). Of course, the dress has pockets, my daughter really wanted to show them to you.
I love to hear what you think of my creations. Feel free to leave a comment in the language you prefer (although Google translate might have to assist me if you choose something different than English, German, Dutch or Hungarian).