6 years ago
I need some help and advice, you are the such a great smocker! I hvae been working on hand pleating my fabric but the fabric is half the width of the pattern piece that I will need to be cutting out after it has been pleated. Did I do something wrong? I am freaking out a bit about so any advice would be wonderful! (any other smockers advice would be great too!!)
Sharon6 years agoNicole @motherof5
Smocking stretches to fit Sharon once you have finished and removed the threads it generally fits what ever bodice size you need. It is years since I have done any smocking,but I am sure you are fine.
Tamara will be along soon to tell you what you need to know!
Good luck.6 years ago
Sharon, firstly take a deep breath it’s going to be fine.
How wide did you cut the fabric to be the pleated piece? Is the smocking all the way across the bodice (is it Aura Lee you are doing???) How did you pleat by hand, did you use dots at all?
The fabric needs to be a minimum of 3 times the width of the finished bodice. There were instructions on how to do this weren’t there???
I need to know this before proceeding any further just so that the first step is conquered correctly. Don’t panick I can help you through.
Tamara6 years ago
Ok I am trying to breath but it has been a bit hard after I think I really messed up at all the hand pleating.
It’s not the Aura lee but very close to it, it’s the Aluette pattern I am going to test for her. I would of had plunty of time to finish but for the first week after I received the pattern was the week of my surgery too. The smocking won’t be a problem at all if I could just get to it. 🙁
Ok the pattern from her said to cut the fabric 40″x11″ then to pleat. It is 21 rows of pleating with 19 rows of smocking. The smocking is the entire width of the bodice piece. It is to be pleated and smocked then after blocking cutting out the front bodice piece. Thanks so much!!!
Sharon6 years ago
Ok, so I’m gathering you have pleated the fabric right?
What does it say to do next? What I do is I take the piece to my ironing board (or a surface that I can use that is padded) and spread the pleats out evenly so that the panel I am working is the same width as the bodice (blocking guide) piece. The pleats need to be sitting nicely next to each other not too close together and not so far apart that you see the pleating threads. They all need to be evenly spread across so that it looks even when you come to smock. I also take out some pleats for the seam allowances (very important).
Then, to make the panel sit and behave while I spread the pleats, I pin one side all down the seam allowance, get the panel to the right width and then I pin the other side to even the pleats. You need to make sure you have ample amount of thread hanging at the end of each pleating row so that you can “tie off” (very important or else the pleats with go on you).
Ok so, then you need to check, double check and check again that the panel is the right width to match the bodice pattern piece. Once the pleats are all evened out, you need to tie off two at a time with a knot (generally I do a knot encompassing both threads not a “granny”). Tie as close to the first pleat as possible but not so tight that it distorts the pleat (some people take their pleating threads to the back but I don’t because it can tangle and you get the same result anyway) but don’t trim them too closely. When you tie off make sure your panel is flat to the ironing board surface – give the threads a gentle pull if it isn’t and even out the pleats if they become distorted.
The next step is to block (I like to do this before and after smocking so that the panel is “trained” to the shape I need it). Make sure your panel is straight at the top and the bottom (use a ruler for this)and adjust accordingly. Then take your iron and have it on steam and just slightly above the panel but not touching, steam all over. Let it dry and then you can count your valleys.
I like to use pins to help me keep track of how many valleys (the dip between the pleats) I have. I count every ten and put a pin in the tenth and then the left over I don’t pin at the end of it if it is less than 10. I then halve the number and count it out by tens to find the centre valley and pin that centre valley. Then I take all the other pins out, thread a needle with a little sewing cotton of a different colour and mark the centre two pleats with a little knotted piece of cotton. It beats all this mucking about trying to count every pleat and losing count along the way. After this you are good to go on with the smocking.
Is this of help? Or have I missed something? the 40″ is from selvage to selvage (but do cut them off before you pleat) and the 11″ is your depth. The top pleating row is a holding row and your very bottom row is a holding row (you don’t smocking on these unless it says to) They are there to keep everything in line.
Let me know if you are confused about this at all and I can walk you through it.
Tamara6 years ago
Oh yes! Wonderful help! I have pleated half of it already but have all the stitches ran for pleating. I did tie off the first half of the threads before I began to think this is way to tight (my freaking out part!) but I do have enough thread to untie it and get it the right size.
I love the blocking idea before smocking to. The pattern says to blck after all is done but I was thinking how can all it stay put as I am smocking. I will give it ago today and let you know if I am able to fix this mistake of mine. I have to have this dress done by the 30th so it will have to work.
You have been great help!! Thanks a ton!
Sharon6 years ago
Oh good I’m so glad all that made sense – I tend to prattle to the point of non comprehensions sometimes.
Just a little advice to help the piece fall easily back into position, take care of your tension when you stitch. The stitching should be tight enough to make the pleats sit together but not so tight the pleats are distorted alot or so loose you could see obvious potential for loopy stitches (especially for cable). If you are doing any trellis (taking the stitches down or up to the next pleating row, have the stitches firm but not too tight – there shouldn’t be any need to pull hard and the thread should just sit on top of the pleats snug. If you get the tension just so your piece will fall easily back into the right measurement.
Oh and with biting the fabric, just make your needle go one third the way down or else you will catch the pleating thread and that can be a slight nightmare when it comes to removing them.
As Nicole said, smocking (the geometric/english kind) stretches so this will allow for easy manipulation.
I like to trace my armholes after blocking. Not sure if this is a full bodice dress you are making but either way, I would wait to cut the armholes until the smocking is complete. To do that, I use an air erasable marking pen after I block it the second time and then I use a tiny zigzag stitch to follow the lines BEFORE I cut. This helps to keep its shape especially around the neckline.
Will you share some pictures when you are done? I’d love to see it.
Have lots of fun throughout the process and remember to relax – it’ll help you to do a better job on the smocking.
Tamara6 years ago
Oh you are a life saver! I will be making the trellis stitches on the whole bodice piece just as you were saying. thanks for the such wonderful advice!
I did a small practice piece before hand but I didn’t think about size of pleats at the time and it is a small piece. I am such a beginner. I will you that yesterday I was so happy that the pleats were looking great but after I relized they were to tight I started to cry thinking I couldn’t do this but now I think I might still be able to get it done, I can’t thank you enough! I will be working on the sizing of the piece today and hopefully start the smocking(I can’t wait till this part!!). I will let you know how it goes, thanks again!!
Sharon6 years agoNicole @motherof5
If you get hooked Sharon,consider a pleater. I have one sitting in my box room that I don’t use. I am sure there are plenty of others around too!6 years ago
Lol, I just told my hubby this last night that I NEED a pleater but even if we ordered one off the internet it wouldn’t get here in time for this project. My greatgrandmother, grandmother and mom all had hand pleated and said oh it’s not hard, well I have decided that lieing runs in the family. 😉 If this turns out I wil he dancing around the house!
And yes I am hooked already on tons of Ideas for dress with smocking, I would love to have some fancy dresses for my Sweet pea daughter. We only have the one girl and three boys so I want to go all out for her. Like the beuitful green silk dress you made for little girl. Just drop down gorgous!!!6 years ago
Just to let you in on a little secret Sharon, I used Grace Knott’s dots for my first smocking project which was a little dress for my then 3 (now 12) year old niece. I found it painful to say the least as it was time consuming and vowed never to “pick up dots” again! My hubby bought my pleater for my birthday that year as it was close to when I finished the dress (my niece is a Christmas Eve baby) and then I found out I was pregnant with our own daughter. She’s nearly 9 and still loves the smocked things although her tastes are changing.
I think it’s really nice to see little girls in smcoked clothing. There are lots of designs and patterns out there and lots of different methods so I’m sure you will be just happy enough to browse the array of choice. And it doesn’t have to be old fashioned – you can add smocking to just about anything.
I do recommend getting a pleater if you plan to do alot of smocking. With small children it can be difficult to get it done and if you have to pick up dots all the time your sweet pea will be a teen by the time you’ve finished – get a pleater it’s so much more time effective.6 years ago
I think I did talk hubbs into a pleater for birthday this, it’s November. He said he is trying to figure a way to buy it with buying for the four kids for Christmas too at the same time.
The good news is that I have a beatiful plaeted piece of fabric ready to smock tomorrow. I have practiced a few smocking trellis too and they look wonderful and are going quickly!!
The bad news now, when I finially got the knots untied I made out (mistake #2, Mistake #1 was tring to pleat on pain meds which I wasn’t thinking about at the time)and was reworking the size I had two threadsbreak frist and then the first half I pleated wasn’t wanting to smooth out very nice at all. so after a few mintues of trying to figure out what to and some advice for my a friend just to give up, which I never I give up!, I called my local quilt shop. After I told the lady what happen she told me to bring my fabric on down and she would pleat it for me with her pleater. I was amazed how quick it went! So now I have a wonderful pleated fabric now.
I am useing my piece to pratice with today on today as not to mess up again. I did show my hubby my piece with the praces stitched in it and he thought it looked great. lol, at first he thought it was the piece the lady had pleated for me so not to bad over all I guess. Live and Learn.
Sharon6 years ago
Oh good golly gosh! Had you known the lady at the local Quilting shop had a pleating service before you could have just gone there first off! Never mind though because while you wait for your own pleater, you can use her services to get some more smocking done.
Tell hubby it could be a joint birthday/ christmas gift to save a few pennies. That’s why my hubby does as my birthday falls in December – it’s just easier that way.
Hope the real deal goes smoothly tomorrow and I’m so glad you didn’t quit – it hurts so many to do that you are a better person for persevering because now you know how easy it actually is.
Tamara6 years ago
Thank you but I don’t know about being a better person just stubren. 😉 I decide to change the color of the smocking stitches so I need to go to the store this afternoon and get it.6 years ago
I think determined is more the word. What I mean is that you are better off persisting at a new skill rather than giving up and NOT learning it. Does your friend smock? Of course not! Or else she would have helped you in persisting. Actually, it would have been ideal for her to learn also and then it would have been more fun. Just wait until she sees your finished product – she’ll want you to teach her how to smock also lol! Time to raise her level of awareness.
So what colour are you using for the stitching?
I have this pattern running through my head that I just can’t get rid of – I think I will have to start on this during the school break or else it will send me batty! Don’t ya just love creativity? Gets ya right when you are in the middle of something else.
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