Oliver + S

Smocking ???

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    Jane @jesims

    I keep seeing all these adorable tops and dresses showing up in Flickr that have smoking on them. I would like to try it and have read over the tutorial done by Ana Sofia. The one thing I haven’t figured out yet is how to determine how much extra width to add to accommodate for the width of fabric taken up by the smocking. Does that make sense? For example. If I want to do smocking the entire way across an ice cream dress how do I determine how much extra width to add to the dress? Is there a mathematical equation to figure it out or do I just wing it?

    Jane

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    beachmom @beachmom

    I knew I had seen where someone had smocked the entire way across on an Ice Cream dress. A little searching and I dug it up! If you read through the comments here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/21021821@N03/6048932811/ Marie Grace says that she used 3 times the width. She also has a tutorial on her blog on how to pleat the fabric by hand.:)

    Hope that helps!

    Cindy

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    Jane @jesims

    Perfect. That gives me a jumping off point.

    Thanks,

    Jane

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    Tamara @justsewit

    Hi Jane

    The general rule of thumb is to use 3-4 times the amount of fabric but it really depends on how much smocking you are doing, the type of smocking and the type of fabric.

    If you are doing traditional geometric or “ENGLISH” smocking then you use at least 3 times. If you are going to do honeycomb/ lattice/ counterchange then the fabric does the pleating for you in the print or you draw dots out on the fabric, do the smocking and THEN you cut it out in the shape of the piece you intend to use it with. For this, depending on the size etc, I would include the width of a standard piece (44inches/ 112cm) just so that you have enough and you should have plenty.

    I am lucky enough to own a pleater so I use this to pleat but like Ana Sofia has demonstrated, you can still smock with out the use of a pleater. You can still get Knott’s Dots too which are iron on dots that you use to “pick up” the rows. There are places that off pleating services so I’d only use the dots as a last resort.

    As for designs, there are multitudes out there. I use the Australian Smocking and Embroiery magazines for mine (only because I am a subscriber) but unfortunately they are getting ready to release their final issue. You can grab copies on Ebay where they have the smocking designs and the patterns for the garment to go with them included. You can also find free ones and single ones at heirloom sewing shops. They are suitable for all levels of experience.

    Hope this is helpful.

    Tamara

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    Jane @jesims

    Hi Tamara,

    Thank you. You provided me w/ a lot of great information. I bought the book Sew Cute Couture by Gail Doane several months ago. I was so intimidated by it, I considered sending it back. At least now I know I can try to do the pleating by hand. I’d hate to spend the money on a pleater before I am sure I like smocking. I think for my first project I will try to do some honeycomb smocking. I have done a few practice pieces on scrap fabric and it’s not looking too wonky anymore. 😉

    Jane

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    Lizabeth @Lizabeth

    Another thought to consider along with the excellent information given by Tamara, is to consider the weight of your fabric when you plan how wide of a piece you will need to pleat. A lighter weight fabric may need 3 times width whereas a heavier fabric, like a pinwale corduroy or fine velveteen, would only need 2 times width (or less!). so too, a quilters cotton would pleat (by hand or machine) differently than a lawn or batiste. This excerpt from a tutorial at ‘maggiebsmocks’ explains very well the consequences of the weight of the fabric: http://maggiebsmocks.typepad.com/smocking/2010/01/bishops-planning.html

    I seem to remember reading somewhere about pleating a test strip to see how much the fabric pulled up/shortened after pleating.

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    Lizabeth @Lizabeth

    Oh, I found it! it was from the same site. though written for bishops, the formula applies well to dresses or tops with a smocked front as well (the finished width needed would be the width of the bodice edge that the skirt attaches to). http://maggiebsmocks.typepad.com/smocking/2008/06/the-perfect-bishop-pattern.html

    Just remember, that even though a math formula may give you a certain number to start from, sewing is an art, so going more full or less full with your fabric is an artistic descision.

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    Lightning McStitch @LightningMcStitch

    Just the question I was wondering too. thanks for asking and thanks everyone for the great replies.

    I didn’t know bishops had their own blogs about sewing. (there’s obviously so much i don’t know about sewing, or religion!)

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    Lizabeth @Lizabeth

    ummm… forgive me, but I don’t have a very good sense of humor, so I am not sure if you are trying to be funny or if I was unclear somehow.

    the ‘bishops’ I refer to above are a particular style of smocked or gathered dresses. a round neck and the gathered/pleated fabric runs from the back opening around one shoulder across the front around the second shoulder to the back again.

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    Nicole @motherof5

    I have to confess when I was smocking I used to just gather the width and make it fit,many of the women who taught me did it the same way.

    Including the lovely Margie Bauer.

    As smocking is quite stretchy it is very forgiving.

    I adore bishop yoke dresses,they continue to be my favourite. I made these when I was expecting the twins http://www.flickr.com/photos/motherof5/5814771747/in/set-72157625766393530. I waited until they were born to do the grub roses.

    I had both finished by their 5 week check up.

    They certainly were not perfect but very enjoyable to do.

    ~Nicole~

    They would have been yellow roses if they had been boys,I love baby boys in smocked nighties.

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    Tamara @justsewit

    Oh no! Don’t send the book back Jane!! By all means keep it because as you become more confident with your smocking you will be able to try them or even better yet take parts of a design and use that as a basis to create your own masterpiece. I had the very great pleasure of being in one of Gail’s classes at Beating around the Bush when it was held the one prior to the one held this year. She is a fabulous teacher and the knowledge you gain from the photos in that book will almost be equivalent to what you get in her class! She teaches regularly at places in the U.S I know this for sure as she is listed on some of the websites ie Farmhouse Fabrics.

    Country Bumpkin have a fabulous book called A-Z of smocking which would be really helpful also. The Wooly Thread stock it and various other places online. It is one of those resources that a beginner can hang onto and refer to as they become more experienced. It lists and shows the variety of stitches that can be done and gives tips on how to hold the needle and how big a chunk to take in the pleat. Really handy for getting a good result.

    Many people start off by doing a bishop. But you know I have made that many square yokes I found the one and only bishop daunting!! I have one from Gail’s class at BATB still unsmocked but again she gave some very good tips on how to “undaunt” the bishop! I was always frightened it would turn into a tube!! You can get special blocking guides to help on this – blocking is super important for any smocked piece.

    If you are going to use a lightweight fabric, something to help the pleats plump up (should you hand pleat or use a pleater some time) is a piece of lightweigh fusable interfacing that is put in the area that is pleated. Gail taught me this and she uses it on silk and batiste. It just helps to make the pleats stand up better so that they can be spread more easily.

    Honeycomb smocking would be a good place to start as you can get a handle on the tension of the thread.

    Hope this is helpful.

    Tamara

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    Lightning McStitch @LightningMcStitch

    my apologies Lizabeth. Bad jokes are made worse on the internet, but I’d genuinely never heard the word used for anything other than a church man.

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    beachmom @beachmom

    The mental image of a Bishop smocking and then having a blog about it has greatly lightened my mood this morning! Thanks for the bit of humor…you made my day.:)

    C

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    Sarvi @Sarvi

    The enormous number of terrible puns pouring into my mind are perhaps better kept to myself. On a side note, if I see one more instance of sew/so substitution I will scream.

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    Mama_Knowles @Mama_Knowles

    Sarvi I see that a lot everywhere. hhhmmm.

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