The TC Dress - Template Smocking

With this dress I am trying out "Template Smocking" . More information on this technique can be found in the "A to Z Book of Smocking" from Country Bumpkin. Love their publications! Anyhoo, a template is made of the desired design. It is then traced around with a marker on the pleated fabric. Then the outline of the template is stitched with a very tiny chain stitch using one thread of  floss. This then gets filled in with stacked cables. You can see my start here. I have templates for the surrounding leaves but I didn't want their distracting markings while smocking the flower. I am trying to stitch out the flower in the tablecloth that floats across the field. This insert is also backsmocked to keep the pleats nice and straight. I did some backsmocking here and will do the rest once the smocking is done. I am actually quite far along with the stitching enjoying sitting out in the sunshine on this beautiful day. I haven't done template smocking before so if this doesn't shape up the way I would like, into the wadder pile it will go and we will move on to plan B.
Here you can see my templates as well as a sketch to indicate where the piping will go. I knew I wanted the piping to be in the sort of odd cherry red shade of the TC flower centers. I had no fabric to match. The color is quite different. I went into my bias binding stash from Ima which is like a vintage store and found the perfect match. Can you see the price on the package of tape? Its a poly cotton blend so that tells us a little bit too. I am thinking circa 1970, maybe earlier at that price. So I am using vintage bias tape with the vintage TC. I love that. The color is spot on. It is much more of a cherry than the computer shows. This was single fold bias tape. I ironed it flat and open. I then used the bias strip to cover the cording. It worked like a charm. Four yards later I am ready to install. You can see that my old trusty Kenmore has the traditional zipper foot, really very good for making piping, so that is a relief.
As I have worked on this tablecloth fabric it has bugged me that I can't describe the texture. It is not a flat, printed cotton. The fabric has texture, but not as heavy as the bark cloth of the time. I definitely knew the texture well but had a hard time remembering the name. Then the ah hah moment hit. This sure looks like a birds eye cotton to me. That fabric was used back  in the day to make  cloth diapers. It doesn't wrinkle and has a wonderful drape and softness, the better for baby's bum. I could be wrong here but it sure looks like birdseye to me. Is there anyone else out there who knows what birdseye is?

It is time to keep smocking. As soon as the little insert is done I will start putting things together. I will use a faced hem and the bodice is lined. For those I will use a cotton batiste. This dress is a bit of a risk. Hopefully my thinking outside of the box will pay off. It doesn't always but that is what seam rippers are for......Bunny


  1. The design of the flower is so sweet and innocent - keep going. I can't wait to see the results.

  2. Wow, have YOU been busy, Bunny!! LOVE the striped top, can't wait to see the end result of this new-to-me type of smocking & yes, I do remember "birdseye" fabric. We're dating ourselves badly, ya' know. LOL

    I just soaked 2 vintage tablecloths of my Moms today in fact. I don't think I could bring myself to cut into them. Too full of cherished memories. I'll set a table instead. *wink*

    Wait till you see the reverse knot dress I just finished for Ms. C. Came out really cute!


    ps. I admire the fact that you would re-pleat something 3 times before you were happy with it. You ARE anal retentive, ya' know, but that is what makes you so good!

  3. When I was very young, my older cousin had a dress with a smocked farmyard scene. I had hoped I would get it as a hand-me-down but alas, it was not to be. I wonder where that dress is now? You are making dresses these children will remember when they are 59.

  4. Hmmm - birdseye - I tend associate that fabric with cloth diapers, but it seems it might have been a finer weave for shirts at one time, too. I can't exactly remember why that comes to mind, though.

    The flower seems to be coming along nicely - I'll be interested to see how this technique turns out!

  5. It's gonna be so cute! And I love using those vintage treasures left over from Mom's and Grandma's sewing basket.

  6. I'm sure you're having fun, trying this new-to-you technique. I'm anxious to see how that flower looks when filled in. What is that filler cord you're using for the piping?

  7. It's a number 3 crochet cotton that I have had a long time. I forget the brand, but more than likely Aunt Lydia's. It is all cotton.

  8. That tablecloth is going to make a precious dress!

    I remember birdseye very well. And not just diapers! I think some of my old embroidery-bordered dish-towels are birdseye; if not the same weave, something very similar and of similar weight. It should feel wonderful to wear.


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