Saturday, April 10, 2010

Holy Smocking!

I went back to a tutorial I was going to try once and never did, by Lia of Lia's Space for a pattern she calls Diamond Smocking. This is done in the "American Smocking" method I believe.

I re-sketched Lia's diagram not for any other reason than I bought my stitches closer together. Lia had a row of dots between which I am unsure it it were intentional or not. This is my diagram, based on the method explained here. Please see the original site for a written tutorial. Very simply take your needle up through the fabric at dot one, down at 2, up at 3 and so on and so forth. The other thing I did slightly different to Lia was I took my needle under just a few threads right underneath the dots on my fabric. It gave me these cute little 4petal type flowers. Lias's method bought 4 dots back together as 1. I probably should have used a larger dotted fabric for this example!!

On my quest to find smocking tutorials using the American style, I came across a great blog called La Sewista! where the author Bunny explains many smocking styles! I had no idea there were so many!! You can read about them here. She lists English (what I always thought was traditional smocking), American/Canadian, Counterchange, Italian Smocking/Shirring, and Picture smocking. In my travels I have also seen variations on the above forms with Geometric Smocking, Dot to Dot Smocking, Lattice, Continental, Grid Smocking... WOW!! Are you keeping up?! Although people who do English smocking (the variety that is pleated before embroidered, often with the pleats let out after construction) typically use a pleating machine it wasn't always so. With amazing precision those pleats were once hand sewn, often using a grid of dots much like the American smocking.

In close reach I found a copy of Australian Smocking and Embroidery Magazine (Issue 45 1998). This magazine is still  printed in Australia and popular world wide. It includes full paper patterns for the garments as well as smocking patterns (called plates) as well as all other kinds of useful info. For example, this particular edition shows you how to use a pleater to pleat a curved panel. The two pictures and examples below are photographed from the Australian Smocking and Embroidery magazine Issue 45, 1998.

Counterchange Smocking
design "Journey of the Heart" by Alexandra Baldwin (South Australia)

English Smocking (combined with Heirloom sewing)
design "Enduring Spirit" by Lyn Weeks (Illinois, USA)

I have absolutely no idea what I will do with my samples of smocking, but I have enjoyed the process and being introduced to some very clever bloggers along the way!!


Lia said... sew beautiful things :) know, to tell you the truth, I've never even finished one smocking dress...EVER :( it takes sooooo long to sew from one end to the other :)...but one day...I definitely will :D

Toni said...

WOW Shell -- WOW!!!! that looks SOOOO BEAUTIFUL!