Wednesday, September 8, 2010

{Q&A's on Smocking a Bishop}

I decided to take a little break between lesson 2 and lesson 3 to answer a few of the questions that I have received. I have copied and pasted the questions in with who asked the question, so that they could easily see the answers to their question. 
Custom-smocked Bishop Dress with Smocked Monogram
Q weinan said...A question however...should I use floss or pearl cotton...I haven't been able to find DMC pearl cotton 8, only #5. Anchor sells $8 and i can see the difference in thickness. Can you advise on what is best to use? Also, when practicing what is a good fabric to work on? I found Batiste here but it costs 20 euro a meter(around 25$ a yard) that seems high for just practice material. Any suggestions? 
I like to use DMC pearl cotton #8 for geometric smocking. One strand of pearl cotton #8 is equal to 3 strands of regular embroidery floss. Pearl Cotton #8 is not good for use on picture smocking. It doesn't lay as flat as regular embroidery floss so it won't fill in the picture smocking stitches as well. For geometric smocking it's beautiful - the pearl cotton doesn't lose it's sheen and it also doesn't flatten out, so it gives some beautiful dimension to your smocking stitches.
As far as fabric goes - a good fabric to use for practicing is the less expensive batiste that you can purchase at stores such as Hobby Lobby, JoAnn's and Hancock Fabrics. These type of fabrics are also readily available for online purchase.
Sue said...why do you also pleat the sleeves when they will be done again when you go all the way around?
The sleeves are pleated both at the neck edge and the lower sleeve edge, so they have to run the fabric thru the pleater twice. First you pleat the lower edge of the sleeve, and flatten it all out, then roll the fabric on your dowel and then you run the entire dress thru the pleater as it pleats up the neck edge of the sleeves. This is why you have to to run it thru twice.
Kelly said... Have you ever used this pattern with featherwale corduroy? If so, what tips do you have? Should I take some out of the center?
I actually haven't tried this pattern with featherwale corduroy, but I don't think you would need to take any fullness out of the center. I think that featherwale is thin enough that it should run thru the pleater just fine - just take it really slow, as the thicker the fabric, the easier it is to break and bend needles.
Marie said...Do you work with cotton poly blends to minimize wrinkles or do you work exclusively with 100% cottons. Also, would you share the size of the lace you selected for the sleeves, the type of lace you picked and your source.
I tend to choose cotton poly blends more often than 100% cottons to minimize wrinkles. I usually buy my batiste by the bolt from Spechler Vogel. I love 100% cottons, but I hate the wrinkles and I hate it when you put all that work into a dress and then to see it full of wrinkles drives me crazy!
The lace I used for the sleeve edge in my video is a 3/4-inch wide French Lace Edging, which can be purchased from Farmhouse Fabrics, Martha Pullen Company or most any heirloom sewing supply store.
Theresa said... I was hoping you would touch upon the problem I have with pleating bishops, but it must just be something that I am doing wrong. If pleating a larger size such as 3 or 4, once rolled, the roll is too thick to fit inside the "hole" of the pleater. I use the same size rod that you do, so what could possibly be different?
A  I have not had this problem when using fabrics such as batiste, but I have had this problem with thicker fabrics. When it happens, I try to roll my fabric as tight as possible to the rod and then I can usually fit it inside the "holes" of the pleater without any problem. I would think that if the type of fabric is too thick to get it to roll up tight enough to fit in the pleater "hole", then it is probably too thick to pleat up.

Questions from my facebook page
Kathy Bell Rieuf asked...I have 2 bishops in process and need help with neck bands-how can one blocking guide be applicable to 3 sizes of bands?!!!!
I am not sure what blocking guide you are using, but the blocking guide on my June Taylor board has a different blocking guide for each dress size. Also the blocking guide that I posted on my last journal entry has markings for each dress size and the article gives the math formula for the blocking guides. I would suggest printing that one off and using it as your guide.

I think that pretty much wraps up the questions. If you sent me an e-mail with a question and it's not answered here, or if anyone else has questions not answered above, please shoot me an e-mail and I will answer additional questions in a future Q & A. send questions to southernstitches(at)

Thanks everyone for your very kind remarks on my lesson series - this is truly as much fun for me as it is for you! Bear with me for Lesson 3 - this has been a short week with the holiday and I have had my grandson here this week.  I am also trying to get some baby shower sewing done for a shower on Saturday, so it's been hard to squeeze in lesson will be here before you know it tho - I promise!


Personalized Sketches and Sentiments said...

OH! It has been forever it seems since I have been by to visit! I am trying to (seems like this is what happens too often) catch up on reading some of my favorite blogs...

Thank you for this question and answer post. Really helpful. I have a slideshow on my latest post and on it there is a picture of my hubby and our girls-the girls are wearing their smocked dresses (my first attempt at smocking) and our younger daughter has her little smocked bonnet that I made. :o)

Blessings & Aloha!

I can't wait til my next day off, so that I can come back and read more.

Cynthia Gilbreth said...

I really like the idea of using perle cotton No. 8 for smocking. I'll have to give it a try.

Lady Effingham said...

This is probably a really silly question but I am learning to smock and have a bishop ready to smock. Why cannot you smock an entire row from side to side. Why must you start in the middle finish to one side edge (cut thread) then flip it upside down and to finish the other side of same row?

Laurie said...

Main reason would be to center your smocking - if you start from the center and work out, you will have a perfectly centered design. If you start at the row and work all the way across, your design might not be centered.

Anonymous said...

I am making the Betsy Pattern from your tutorials, which are fabulous, and the pattern suggests 10 rows of smocking for the size 6. Would fewer rows of smocking be a problem? Thanks.

Mary Lynne said...

I'd love to hear tips about how to choose poly-cotton blends that don't look 'cheap.'What are some dependable fabric lines? My daughter likes to avoid ironing, and I don't blame her!


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