How to Make Smocking Stitches

    CRAFTS CLASSES
    TO INSPIRE CREATIVITY
    by Sarah Castille

    About the Author

    Sarah Castille has worked as a freelance writer since 2007. She has written for the web magazine Expats.cz and the foreign investment website Getamarket. Castille holds a Master of Arts in international economic and political studies from Charles University in Prague, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in English and French literature from Colby College.

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    Although sewing is a fun way to create fashionable, affordable, custom-fit clothing, basic sewing patterns could be drab, boring and unattractive. Smocking is a simple way of transforming even the dullest pattern into a stunning piece of original handiwork. Novices may feel intimidated by the complicated appearance of smocked stitches, but in reality smocking requires no more than a basic knowledge of embroidery and sewing.

    Things You'll Need

    • Fabric
    • Embroidery needle
    • Thread
    • Embroidery floss
    • Dressmaker's chalk

    show more

    Making a Pattern Grid

    Draw a grid on a piece of fabric using dressmaker's chalk.

    Draw the needle through the fabric at the top left corner (point A) of one of the squares on the grid and reinsert it at the top right corner, making a straight stitch across the top of the square.

    Draw the needle again through point A and reinsert it at the bottom right corner of the square.

    Draw the needle through the fabric again at the bottom left corner of the square.

    Reinsert the needle at the bottom right corner of the square directly below. You should now have a vertical row of two diagonal stitches.

    Draw the needle through the bottom left corner of the second square and reinsert it in the bottom right corner of the square two rows to the right.

    Draw the needle through the top right corner of this square and reinsert it at the bottom left corner of the square. Repeat the process, making a row of two diagonal upward stitches. There should be an empty row between the vertical row of downward stitches and the vertical row of upward stitches.

    Draw the thread through the top left corner of the top square and reinsert it at the top right corner of the square two rows to the right. Continue the pattern by beginning another vertical row of downward stitches.

    Pleat the Fabric

    Draw a grid on the fabric using dressmaker's chalk. The grid should begin at the top of the piece of fabric and end several inches below the last row of smocking stitches.

    Stitch along the horizontal rows of the grid. Each stitch should be the length of one square on the grid.

    Pull the threads together to pleat the fabric.

    Cable stitch a line at the top of the pleated fabric to secure the pleats. Use the embroidery floss, as this line will be part of the smocking design.

    Smocking the Fabric

    Imagine that your pleated fabric is a grid. The creases between the pleats are the vertical lines of the grid and the pleat threads are the horizontal lines.

    Thread the needle with embroidery floss.

    Draw the needle up through the fabric at the intersection of a pleat thread and a pleat crease. This is the place where the smocking pattern begins and corresponds to point A on the pattern grid.

    Smock the fabric following the stitch pattern on your pattern grid.

    Remove the pleat threads and iron the fabric beneath the pleats to make the fabric as smooth as possible.

    • Use a bright-colored thread for the pleat threads so they will be easier for you to see when smocking. Because you will remove these threads, it does not matter if they do not match the fabric.
    • If you are adding smocking to a pattern that does not call for it, then you must alter the pattern. Add twice the width to the pattern at the section which you intend to smock.
    • Do not pull the embroidery floss too tight or you will make the pleats buckle and the pattern uneven.

    Photo Credits

    • Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images