Sunday, March 20, 2011

How to Smock

Smocking is one of my favorite techniques! Once you've mastered it, you can use smocking as an addition to many garments. Make bodices for dresses or waistbands for pants and eliminate the need for buttons or zippers! You can even smock necklines and armholes or the bottom edge of shirts for a decorative touch. Don't be intimidated by this technique - smocking is actually quite simple!

1. Wind the bobbin.
You will need elastic thread. It can be found in the notions section of the fabric store right by the elastic waistbands. You need to hand wind it onto your bobbin. Don't pull the elastic tight as you are winding it.
From Smocking

2. Thread your machine
Put the bobbin in your machine and thread as normal, using regular thread for the top thread. Pick a color that will match your material, as this will be visible on the outside of the your garment.

From Smocking

3. Sew the first row.

Place your garment RIGHT side up on your machine. I usually start at the back seam. Leaving a long tail, sew a few stitches then backtack about three times to ensure that the elastic is secure. Sew all the way around the garment, using your guide plate to keep the row straight. When you reach all the way around the garment, once again backtack about three times to secure the elastic. Cut the thread, leaving a long tail and knot the elastic on the garment to doubly secure it. (The elastic should be on the WRONG side of your fabric.)

Note: It is easiest to prehem or finish the top most edge of your project before you smock it, rather than later. In these photos, I am smocking a bodice and I have already sewn it to the skirt and used my serger to give the top edge a rolled hem.

From Smocking

4. Sew the next row.

Sew the second row as you sewed the first, using the right edge of the presser foot as your guide. Some people choose to pre mark their rows using tailors chalk, but I think the pressor foot makes a fine guide and the smocking lines are a aesthetically pleasing distance apart. Remember to backtack at the beginning and end of the row and to knot the elastic. Also, ensure that you are pulling the fabric taut, as it will want to bunch up as the elastic pulls on it.

From Smocking

5. Sew remaining rows.

Sew the remaining rows of your garment, using the pressor foot or guide of your choice to make straight, evenly spaced rows. Remember to pull the fabric taut, and to backstitch and knot the elastic.

From Smocking

6. Shrink the elastic.

After you are finished, use your iron to steam the elastic. This shrinks the elastic and makes the fabric bunch together in the distinctive smocking.

From Smocking

That's it! What have you made using the smocking technique? Add your photos to the Pineapple Damask Flickr Photo Pool!

No comments:

Post a Comment