Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The art of hand smocking


Smocking is an embroidery technique used to gather fabric so that it can stretch. Before elastic, smocking was commonly used in cuffs, bodices and necklines in garments where buttons were undesirable. Smocking developed in England and has been practiced since the Middle Ages and is unusual among embroidery methods in that it was often worn by laborers. Other major embroidery styles are purely decorative and represented status symbols. Smocking was practical for garments to be both form fitting and flexible, hence its name derives from smock — a farmer's work shirt. Smocking was used most extensively in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This technique later evolved into a decorative detail for dresses and gowns.
English smocking became popular in the 1920s and then became even more popular in the 1940’s, when the smocking pleater was invented. In the 1960's and 70's there was yet another revival of smocking. I always remember wearing smocked dresses as I was growing up! Most the portraits I have when I was a little girl, I was wearing smocked dresses! Most were "Polly Flinders" dresses, however, my mother hand smocked some of my dresses!
Yes! This is ME!
In the 1980's, smocking again became popular, and when I had my first baby, a girl, in 1982, I decided to pick up a needle and learn this amazing needle art! Since then I have been totally addicted to smocking and there has never been a time when I have "taken a vacation" from this amazing needle art!
In the coming weeks I am going to post some new tutorials on smocking. This will be helpful to both beginners and seasoned smockers, as I will not only focus on beginning stitches, but perfecting the technique. There are so many tutorials out there - seems everyone want to learn how to smock, however, not everyone is teaching correct technique, which really makes me cringe. I don't claim to "know it all", but I do strive for proper technique and I think that is important to pass on to this new generation of smockers. My goal is to not only teach you, but teach you properly, so grab a needle and some floss and let's get ready for some fun! 
To get started, please read this post which covers the needles and floss that I will be using in this tutorial. You can hand pleat or machine pleat a piece of fabric. For hand pleating , you will need to purchase the iron on dots, or use a ruler and water soluble pen and mark the dots. (a google search for this should give you some helpful results). Here is my tutorial on machine pleating - Pleating 101
I'm excited, are you?


Kathie said...

Always interested in learning/perfecting - looking forward to your posts

Marja said...

So excited to see your new tutorials! Yours are always the best!

Ginny said...

The timing of your new tutorials couldn't be better! My first grandchild - a girl - is due at the end of February. It's been quite a while since I've done any smocking, so I can certainly use some help.

sandrajean said...

Love a hand smocked classy. Seem like many are dressing little girls in nylon net tutus.....not my style for sure.


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