Monday, January 2, 2012

Achieving a long-held ambition

Happy New Year!

We were in bed by the time the official fireworks started, but had a great time earlier celebrating the Schoolboy turning 7, and at our traditional fancy dress party ('E' themed this year, although we already have more suggestions for 'F' than anyone had for 'E'!).  I hope that you had a great night, but more importantly that this year has dawned with fresh energy, hope and optimism!  For us, I loved the fact that New Years' Day was a Sunday, and the Cyclist and I got to start it at a reasonably quiet and reflective Church service focused around God's grace - for me the best New Years' periods are those where I take time out to reflect on His character.

No resolutions around here as yet, and no crafty ambitions in writing, although there's plenty swirling around my head and one long-awaited project underway.  In the meantime, I've been meaning to publish this post, which I wrote a couple of months back, before the Newbie was born.  She won't fit into it for a while yet, but I keep wanting to get it out and have a look at it...

Way back in the dim dark ages when I was a teenager I saw a little smocked dress that a girl a bit older than me had made for the baby of a mutual friend.  It seemed like such a great gift that I decided then and there that I would learn to smock one day.  I've held the ambition in the back of my mind, but have been a bit intimidated by the complicated and time consuming nature of the process.  I should say, "what I thought" was a complicated and time consuming process, because back in October I tried it, and it wasn't as bad as all that!

Here's my first attempt:

Another case of me 'watering down' the pink content of the Newbie's clothing.  You might recognise the fabric - its yet more of that check material I used on the mother and son PJ pants.  Its a tiny check, and I ran gathering lines every 3rd check to get the right sort of spacing.  Here's what I did/discovered:
  • Smocking isn't really as intimidating as all that.  Its actually a reasonably quick project in front of the Box (this lot took me 3-4 days of feet-up time during my 3rd trimester)
  • You do need to be careful about that first patterned row though - I missed a couple of pleats and missed a stitch in another place, all of which added up to me deciding to alter and reduce the smocking I had planned because I didn't want to perpetuate the mistakes and make them more obvious.
  • If (when) I do it again, I'll leave the ends of the stabilisation row and first row of the pattern free until I've worked the second row, just to make sure that I haven't made mistakes - that'll make them easier to unpick.
  • I used Simplicity 7017 again, but widened the front so that it was around 2.5 times with width of the band at the top.  This seemed to be a good amount of gathering for the smocking.  I left the back as per the pattern, but gathered the top rather than pleating it.
  • To get instructions for smocking my main reference was this craft book that I've had on the shelf since before the original smocking encounter (It was printed in 1983, so I guess that means I've been referring back to it periodically for various projects for nearly 30 years!):

  • I also had bought a couple of smocking magazines (who knew that such publications existed?) from the newsagent - they had some great stitch ideas but were pretty light on for instruction on the actual 'how to smock' component.
PS.  Have just been 'surfing' Pinterest, and came across this tutorial, which might be helpful if you're planning to try some smocking yourself (I'm going to be referring back to it for my next project...).


  1. Your smocking is gorgeous!!! I'd like to try to do some one day, as it is so very pretty.

  2. Hi! Greetings from Finland! Your quilts are so fantastic! It's so nice to find other quilters all around the world!


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