Monday 19 January 2015

Smocking Hot - How to do smocking by hand

Owing to this week's schedule and external pressures, I've decided to take it easy and go off the beaten track as far as on-trend pastiche-come-plagiarism is concerned. In amongst the hustle and bustle of the weekend, and the rigours that came with it, I decided to turn my hand to smocking.

You will need...

NB: The top or garment needs to made from synthetic fabric or it can't be moulded; natural fabrics, such as cotton, have too high a melting point and don't behave in a heat-malleable way.

Pins need to be as narrow as possible; ideally, you should avoid pins with round or wide heads.


Quite easy

I fear I might be jumping the gun in assuming that it's a complete doddle, since there is a smattering of technique involved. It helps to be good with your hands and especially dexterous with your fingers. Confused? All will be revealed.


This wasn't as quick as I expected - I'm not entirely sure if that was down to perfectionism or being distracted by the television, which I like to have on in the background - but if you do the design I did it shouldn't take more than a couple of hours.

Smock treatment

Concertina-fold the fabric , lengthways, along the middle of the top, or wherever else you want your smocking to be. Pin it in place and iron the  pleats  on as high a setting as possible - your aim is to get the plastic to change shape through heat without melting it. I would recommend working up to the highest temperature you can and practising on some scrap fabric, if possible. You can also heat-set some synthetic fabrics by boiling them in water for a short while - sorry I couldn't be more helpful with timings but it's been a while since I last attempted that particular method!

After you have fixed the pleats, unpin them and pin the tips of the pleats together at alternating intervals to make diamond patterns. Hand-stitch or glue the tips together and unpin them. Since I was doing my design lengthways, I didn't do diamond shapes completely along the pleats, ; I stopped about a third of the way down, and would recommend you do the same, so that it fits more easily.

1 comment:

  1. […] decade’ – an era that embraced handicrafts as a vehicle for self-expression. I chose a hand-smocked top, a fringed necklace, embroidered boots a vintage sheepskin jacket I painted over Christmas (thanks, […]