heirloom techniques: smocked dress round-up

Since Liesl is just back from the SAGA convention and is so excited about smocking now, we thought it would be fun to feature some examples of the technique applied to Oliver + S patterns. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with it, smocking is used to gather fabric so that it can stretch. If you are willing to invest the time it takes, you can achieve results like these smocked dresses (and one blouse). Enjoy these examples, and if you know of other Oliver + S patterns that work well with smocking be sure to let us know in the comments.

First up, we have Ashley and Emily with a light blue striped Garden Party Dress for spring. The bodice panel was pleated and smocked instead of gathered. More details about the modifications made to this dress and some close up photos of the smocking can be found on their blog.


Smocked Oliver + S Garden Party Dress


Another Garden Party Dress, but this time as a peach Easter dress by Darcy. This one has already made an appearance as a Friday feature.


Smocked Oliver + S Garden Party Dress


Next up, Sharon created this pastel pink Fairy Tale Dress for Easter. You can read all about this dress on her blog.


Smocked Oliver + S Fairy Tale Dress


Another Fairy Tale Dress, this time by Deb who made a red, white, and green snowflake dress for Christmas.


Smocked Oliver + S Fairy Tale Dress


Catherine sewed this Birthday Party Dress, and you can have a closer look at the smocking details here.


Smocked Oliver + S Birthday Party Dress


Tamara created this unique denim School Photo Dress using Italian smocking.


Smocked Oliver + S School Photo Dress


Moving along, we have Aukje who made a Popover Sundress using red gingham. She also sewed a 2+2 Blouse using green polka dot fabric.


Smocked Oliver + S Popover Sundress and 2 Plus 2 Blouse


This Popover Sundress was sewn by Marlene. She used shot cotton and vintage Liberty lawn and added a hem facing on the right side of the fabric.


Smocked Oliver + S Popover Sundress


The Popover Sundress seems to be quite popular with smocking because we have two final ones to share. Melissa started out by making a mock version with a vintage bed sheet, and it worked for her so she went on to make a green Christmas one, too.


Smocked Oliver + S Popover Sundresses


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  1. Tricia

    The denim school photo dress is a knockout!

  2. Jenny

    So I have never been a fan of smocking as it has always felt super baby-ish. (Or it felt super 70s!)

    These examples have turned my head COMPLETELY. There is some very sophisticated smocking there! Bravo, ladies. You have converted me to a fan! I may try my hand. Now to find recommendations on how to start.

  3. Sarvi

    Ditto the above, this group has really shown me smocking in a new light with their sophisticated examples!

  4. I think smocking can be really contemporary–we just need to turn it that way! I’d recommend investigating SAGA a bit if you’re interested in learning more. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is, to do, too!

  5. Anonymous

    I learnt to smock in school as a teenager and smocked a white dress in chevron smocking style in graduated shades of blue for my first baby. I love how textured it is. I think it can look very contemporary given the right fabric and colours choices. Tamara’s is a great example and is absolutely beautiful.

    Have a go, you’ll be surprised how complex it looks while it is not difficult once you get the hang of it.

    Hmm, grey linen dress smocked would look gorgeous on grown ups!

  6. Tamara

    After thirteen years of smocking and being self taught, I am most proud of this denim dress. The design was for a cushion! In silk! Which goes to show the versatility of design and how we can take it and use it on something not thought of.

    I love it how we make what is considered old, new and contemporary and I think all the above examples reflect this in such a perfect way.

    Smocking is very simple. It just LOOKS difficult and that is the beauty of it.

    1. Karen

      That dress is awesome! I have never used denim as a base, only broadcloth, batiste or fine corduroy. I am impressed with your talent!! Keep up the good work!

  7. ITALIAN SMOCKING??? We must investigate this further….WOW, it is STUNNING {and showcased on a dress we LOVE}!! Liesl – you are AMAZING. Seriously. A recap blog post already up? A Wee Care gown already smocked?? YOU NEVER STOP!

  8. ChicmamainEDH

    These are really beautiful, is the smocking as time-consuming as it looks?

  9. Jenny Jo

    I sew because I smock. I LOVE all these smocked O + S garments! Thanks for gathering them all in one place.

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