Answers and Ideas

Thank you for the lovely comments on the sleeves. The jacket is waiting for its organdy for the inner collar to arrive from Stauffer's so right now I am working on the lining and contemplating some creative ideas for it. I will wait until I decide what embellishment I will use before I tell you. Have to keep up the suspense, you know!

Jlynn asked me in her comment if she could use smocking on the above Burda Pattern, 05/2010 #125.  Absolutely! If you have followed my blog for a while you know that I love the look of smocking and love to incorporate it into adult garments and hand bags. Here are a few things I've learned. Smocking can be used  in most places where there is gathering or elastic. Most fabrics smock up with a ratio of  three to one. In other words, unless the fabric is heavy, for each inch of smocking you will need to pleat up 3 inches of fabric. Look at the drawing above, JLynn's choice. You can see that the sleeves are eased in with no gathering into the armscye. That means there is not much width of fabric in this sleeve. So you will not have that 3-1 ration needed. Here is what I would do: I would double a strip of  fabric so that you have a folded edge. That  folded edge corresponds to the bottom edge of the ruffle. The strip would be the width of the ruffle and the gathered area above. It would be cut 3 times wider that the sleeve. I would then pleat it up with maybe just 4 or 5 rows. This will automatically make your ruffle and give you a pleated area to smock. Smock that band and then attach it with piping to the sleeve. The bottom edge of the sleeve should be gathered into the piping to look right. This will take some fooling and fudging but nothing difficult.

On the waist area I would use a different tactic. It would not work to cut the bodice three times wider, so instead we will beef up the area to be smocked. I would interface the area to be smocked on the left and right before pleating. This beefs up the pleats and makes them fill more space. I like to use Formflex for this. I would interface only those areas but would pleat the waistline all the way across. Then I would cut the pleating threads in the middle and pull them out till you reach the area you want to smock, much as I did on the sleeves in this post.

Another option for this blouse is to make a band of pleating, again on the fold with a ruffle, and use that to make the insert around the neckline.

So you see there are lots of options on just this one blouse. 
Here is another idea for Burda #128 05/2010. I would smock a band about 2 inches wide and just insert it between the peplum and the bodice, removing from the bodice the area to be covered. Hope that makes sense. This could be wonderful in a chambray with some woodsy looking beads.

     This one shoulder affair would be absolutely fabulous with smocking. You could do, once again on the fold to make the ruffle and beef up your pleats, a smocked band at the top. I would add that on top of the bottom ruffle layer as you can only pleat so much at one time. this would be fabulous in a navy silk charmeaue with some jet beads worked into the smocking and then having a tie on the bottom edge that would end in some sort of jet beading as well. 
I could go on and on. The opportunities are there. Any where you see gathering think of how you could incorporate smocking into the garment. You can also add a band of smocking just about  anywhere. I have put bands on collars, pockets, and waistlines. all on patterns that didn't call for any such banding. I hope this has helped JLynn and also gotten some juices flowing for the rest of you. We can never have too many tools in our tool box. It is really nice to be able to pull out a technique and having incorporated into your garment, know that there is no other like it and it is couture....Bunny...  I would love to teach classes on how to do this. The idea that I could inspire someone, like I seem to have with Jlynn, is just a great feeling.Wish I could link to Jlynn, but she is unlinkable at this point,,,,,Bunny


  1. I want to make smocked garments for my future grandchildren. But who knows when they'll arrive (hopefully not too soon!). Do you think I can pick up smocking later in life? It seems so complicated.

  2. Lindsay, you need to do what is called "figment smocking". You are sewing for a figment of your imagination. The styles are timeless. Put them away in a box for a day in the future that will surely come.

  3. I want to add that many sewists pick up smocking later in life, including myself. I started with the birth of my first grandaughter, about 6 years ago.

  4. I have long admired your beautiful smocking. My mother smocked our dresses when we were young and then she made some for my daughters when they were young.I have kept these incredible works of art.

    Bunny, my mother lives back in AUS , could she teach me on her next visit or should I augment these lessons with any other classes? I am a decent sewist, what would you recommend?

    Thank you for the many trips down Memory Lane.


  5. This looks so delicious. I've done this before, but need to get back to it to "hone" my smocking skills! But you dropped a little tidbit there - who and what is Stauffer's...sounds like a place I need to know about.

  6. I learned how to smock 22 years ago right before my daughter was born and was amazed at how easy it is to do, compared to how complicated it looks (that's for Lindsey). And Bunny, thanks for sharing how to incorporate smocking into adult garments. I love the look, but haven't tried it yet, and must admit that my smocking skills are a bit rusty.

  7. Thank you for showing us that smocking is not just for small childrens garments! You continue to give me something to work towards!

  8. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. I don't have a sewing blog. Maybe some day soon. I would love to share my sewing with you and the other ladies. I had never heard the word waddie till the other day. It tickled me that those sewing failures actually had a name. It was even funnier that after sewing for 2 days a dress for my DGD and it turned out to be a disappointment, I had a name for it. Bunny, I don't have a pleating machine. I just ordered the iron on dots. If you don't mind hand sewing it works just fine, it just takes a little longer. I wanted to be sure I enjoyed smocking before I invested in a pleater. Thank you again for your help with choosing patterns to incorporate smocking.


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