How to smock – tutorialApril 1, 2011
Here’s a little sneak preview of a project I’m currently working on. Can you guess what it will be? In about a week both my photographers will be back from holiday, so just a few more days of patience before I’ll have new photo’s to show. While I was working on this new piece (no, not saying anything), I took pictures to show how smocking works and wrote a step-by-step instruction.
Smocking is a certain way of adding a texture to fabric, by pleating it and sewing those pleats together in a regular grid. Lots of variations exist, but here I will show you how I made a honeycomb structure. The length of fabric you need is twice as much as the finished piece will be. So if you want for example a smocked waistband of 70 cm long, you need to start with 1.4 m of fabric.
Step 1 – Mark the grid you’re going to use as a guide with chalk. I used intervals of 2 cm (or 1 inch), but feel free to make the intervals bigger or smaller. As you can see, I made three rows of dots, which serve as a guide for three rows of stitching. I worked from right to left, doing the first two rows of pleats in one go and reversing the work for the third row.
Step 2 (top) – My camera had a hard time with the red fabric, it came out purple as you can see.. In reality the fabric is bright red though. But let’s get to the smocking: with the chalk dots as a reference, sew the first horizontally adjacent dots together (top left and right). You can see that when you bring those two dots together, the fabric will form a pleat between them (top right). To keep the pleat in place and fix it, make a few stitches on the same spot.
Step 3 (middle) – When you’ve finished your first pleat, stick the needle into the fabric and pull it out at a dot exactly above the second of the two dots you’ve just sewn together. You can now make a pleat in the second row. When you connect this dot to the next one you’ve marked out (middle left), again a pleat will form. Do you see how a diagonal mountain fold appears to form? That’s because this second pleat is one space further down the line than the first.
Step 4 (bottom) Once you’ve secured the pleat together with a few stitches, return to the first row and stitch the next two dots together (bottom picture). Continue this way, alternating between the first and the second row. After a while your work should look like this:
Step 5 – When you’ve come at the end of the part that you wanted to smock, reverse from left to right and use the dots in the third row as a reference to make pleats. You will now start to see that beautifull honeycomb pattern. I just needed three rows of stitches in this work, but if you want a a bigger smocked surface, just add more rows.