Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Smocking, Part Deux

Warning! Long post!

Yes, folks, it's time for another installment of Smocking with the Good Flea. If you missed the first part, feel free to go back and catch up. It wasn't until I sat and thought all this through that I realized that there may be many, many posts involved here, so I'd like feedback as to interest level. I taught this as a four week class, two hours or more a night. With a very good book, The Joy of Smocking, by Martha Pullen (which I highly recommend if you teach yourself well using visual aids - try If there's no interest in lessons, I'll just post a couple of shots of this dress in progress.

I left off with laundering the fabric and choosing the pattern. Today we take the next step and copy the pattern. Nipper was right in the comment section when she said this is more difficult than I make it look. There are a lot of steps (which is why smocking appeals to me). It's not for the beginning sewist, if you plan to do any of the sewing yourself. If you'd just like to smock the darn thing, hand off this part to someone else. Especially if using a pattern from a magazine, as I prefer to do.

Here's the pattern:

It's from the foldout section in the middle of the publication. You can't just cut it out like you would a regular pattern. Instead, you trace. It's ideal to have a roll of newsprint, or freezer paper. I only traced the sleeve of this pattern, copying out identifying marks and size and stuff, like so:

There are only three pieces to a bishop, which is the type of dress I'm smocking. In sewing terms, it's typically called a raglan sleeve, where the sleeve comes all the way up to the neck, rather than being set in (a baseball three-quarter sleeve shirt is typically raglan, if that helps). I didn't trace the front and back for two reasons. One, I'm using notebook paper, which isn't big enough. Two, I traced directly onto the fabric, like so:

I just lay the fabric on top of the pattern putting the fold of the fabric exactly on the fold line of the pattern, trace with a pencil, then fold and cut. This is the front. Then I put the cut out piece on the fabric with the pattern fold on the selvege, or open side. Pin and cut. This is the back of the dress.

Then I cut out the sleeve I just traced. I, um, modified the sleeve to make it long for a winter gown. See?

I'm boring you all to tears, I know. Sorry. We're almost done for today. Here's the bias strip in progress.

A bias strip is simply cut on an angle to the grain, giving it some stretch. Not up and down or side to side. This strip is nearly two inches wide and will be used as the neck facing, meaning I'll stitch it on at the neck on the right (top) side, flip it under and hand stitch it in place. After all the smocking is done.

I had to show y'all this, just to keep things a LITTLE interesting. And because I'm not giving instructions to go with it. This, my bloggy friends, is my pleater, the Amanda Jane:

Pretty, no? I figure if you own a pleater, you know how to use it. If you don't own a pleater, there's no point in my showing you how it works. I'll just show you what the fabric looks like as it's being fed through (after being rolled on a dowel and cranked through by hand - you can see the rolled fabric in the shot above):

Of course, I've skipped a couple of steps, in my eagerness to show the pleater, but I'll show you those in the next installment! They involve sewing and IRONING, my favorite past time. Woohoo!

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Until I write again ...



Marguerite said...

Wait. Did I read that right? You placed the Fold Edge of the pattern on the selvage?

Anyway, the pleater looks cool. I always wondered how you get all those teeny gathers.

I miss my dress form. More importantly, I miss my Fray Chek. :(

Julie said...

I love it!! I like to sew, well I like to make anything!! I'm not great at it, still learning things. But I can follow a pattern. I LOVE smocking!! So very impressed by Amanda Jane-I didn't even know cool!!!

faroutmom said...

Amanda Jane is very cool. Wish I could see her at work. Maybe you should do a video of her. It may just be the big break she needs, ya know.

Karen said...

How did I miss this installment? I was just thinking, I wondering when Flea is doing her next lesson on smocking? Maybe I was sleeping? Anyway, looks like I may be off to buy a pleater.

Memaw's memories said...

I have made the Little Rose pattern several times.

To make my patterns, I use cheap interfacing. I buy it at the fabric store when they have their big sales.

It is thin enough that you can see through it to trace the pattern, and durable enough it will last a long time. I scan the picture and all the instructions, print them and put them all in a big yellow envelope. I tape the picture on the front of the envleope and put the size of the pattern and who I made it for and what fabric on the back. This way, I'm not continually looking through all my magazines for a particular pattern that I have already used.

My granddaughters are pictured in one of the last two issues of the magazine this pattern came from.

I made them both the Madeline dress, and sent them in.

I have made lots of the patterns from these magazines, and I have probably 80% of their issues.

I'm working on two daygowns right now for a grandniece due in January.