Monday, January 16, 2012


Smocking is my all-time favorite type of needlework. It's hard to believe, but I have been smocking for nearly 30 years! I got hooked on smocking at the birth of my first-born, a daughter! Since I am an only girl, with three older brothers, I was beyond excited to have a baby girl!!! Shortly after she was born, I taught myself how to smock. 
I was a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) and if I wanted to learn how to do something, I usually taught myself. I would get books, magazines and anything that would help me perfect the skill I wanted to learn. I think that's why it's so important to me to create smocking and sewing tutorials.  Like me, I know there are others who seek information and want to learn more. Whether they be new moms or grandmoms, I love sharing the art of smocking and hope that I inspire many to learn and perfect the skill. Along the way, there will be many uhh-ohhs!, but there are also lessons to be learned with in those uhh-ohhs! 
On Saturday, I decided to prep and pleat up two bonnets to smock. As I was pulling up the pleats, I had an uhh-ohh! One of my pleating threads was not fully within the knot at the end of the row, and as I pulled up the pleats, it pulled the guide thread partially out! Ohhh, how I HATE it when that happens!!
The first response needs to be - don't panic!
One rule I always have when I pleat something, is to make sure that I always cut the pleating threads long. I always allow extra length on those threads until I begin smocking the very first row. That extra length of thread can be a life-saver in a situation such as this!
Grab the end of that thread and start pulling! Word of caution - make sure the other end of that thread is securely knotted or it will just pull out the other end and then you might as well pull all the threads out and start over! 
 Leaving those guide threads long will allow you to pull
out a nice long piece of thread to work with.
 I like to use beading needles for this "uhh-ohh"
because the needle is very thin and very long, allowing
for picking up many pleats at a time.
 If you look closely, you should be able to see the needle
holes in the fabric where the guide thread ran before it pulled loose.
Start loading the pleats on the needle going in and out the needle holes.
If you can't see the needle holes, then use the next pleated row as your guide.
 The beading needle allows you to load a lot of pleats on the needle
and you can then easily pull up those pleats and see how even it is
before pulling the needle all the way thru the pleats. Continue to the 
end of the row, then secure thread with a knot.
That just worked out perfectly! I now can pull up all my pleats
and tie off threads at both ends of the bonnet, double checking to 
make sure that all threads are knotted, then trim off excess thread.
Yay - uhh-ohh is fixed!



Sara said...

great tip!!! I hadn't thought of a beading needle!!

Jan said...

I've had the very same thing happen and done exactly what you did in the tutorial. Except I usually just used my milliners needles. They are long and thin. Not panicking is a great reminder.

Elsie said...

Great tip Laurie. I never thought of using a beading needle. Thanks for sharing.

AngelaP said...

I am so new to smocking that this is a great tip to store away for when this happens to me. I haven't checked all of your blog and would like information on hemming using a pinstitch by hand. Have you done a tutorial on this?
Thanks Angela

Julie Warner said...

I love smocking, especially for baby girl clothing. With a granddaughter on the way, I'm anxious to try it again.


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