Tuesday, March 13, 2012

the underside of smocking

As I mentioned last week, I often get emails from those who follow my blog, youtube channel, facebook page and newsletter, asking me all sorts of sewing questions. I do my best to answer each and every one of them to the best of my knowledge. This week, I got an email from someone asking me what the back side of their smocking should look like. I thought this was a pretty good question and decided it would make for a great sewing journal entry!
I am a firm believer in that the back of your smocking should be neat and tidy. My goal is to strive to make it look almost as good as the front of the smocking! 
I went to my sewing room and pulled out random smocked garments and snapped pictures of the underside of a few to show you how mine look.
 The above picture is the smocked bishop from 
As you can see, I try not to carry my floss too far 
across pleats, not much more than 3-4 pleats. 
This is the underside of another smocked bishop
Here is an example of the underside of
a smocked bonnet.
Even with picture smocking, you can strive to keep your work neat and tidy. This is Caleb's CottontailsYou can see on this example how I carried my floss vertically up the pleats. I try hard to have as few knots on the backside of my smocking as possible.
The white cable stitches are what is known as "back smockingand it must be done on the back of all picture smocking in order to hold the pleats.
Here is another example of the backside of picture smocking.
You can see I had to do quite a few rows of back smocking.
Here's my tips:
  • Strive to keep the back of your smocking as neat and tidy as you can. I always double knot when I tie off the floss, then leave a little tail. You don't want to trim away the floss too close to the knot, or it could come undone. 
  • Keep traveling across pleats on the backside to a minimal - no more than 3-4 pleats. If you travel much more than that, it can cause pulling of the pleats on the front side of your smocking.
  • When traveling the floss vertically between rows, try to travel in the valley of the pleat, but do take into consideration that if you are using a dark color floss on a light color fabric that it might show thru on the front side.
  • Keep knots to a minimum - I usually start with about an 18" piece of floss, so that I can work as many stitches as I can before knotting off and starting a new piece.
  • When I do back smocking, I usually use one strand of Quilting Thread.
Happy Smocking!


Laurie said...


Your post is very timely. I was wondering your opinion on back smocking on a bishop?

I've been told that tatting thread is good for back smocking. Is it much different than quilting weight thread?



P.S. I've bought lots of balls of #8 pearle cotton lately.

Karyn said...

I couldn't agree more; I like the back of my work to be as neat as I can make it. I was interested though to see that you backsmock your picture smocking after you have done the smocking. I find it easier to do it first, then I am not trying to backsmock around knots or stitches. Is always a personal preference, like most things in life.

Laurie said...

I actually back smock before I do my picture smocking - much easier than working around figures and knots on the back!


Related Posts with Thumbnails