Jenny’s Sewing Studio has a great way to make machine smockingÂ look like the age old technique of hand smocking. Granted, hand smocking is beautiful and when I had several little girls in the family, one of the first gifts I made them was a hand smocked dress.
Here is how you can create the “look” with little to no effort. For my foot class I did several samples of heirloom smocking using a few of the cording feet we sell. I found the 5 hole cording foot works the best. It keeps all the cords seperated as you sew and keeps themÂ flowing evenly under your choice of decorative stitch. I choose the “honeycomb stitch” as the best stitch for the gathering.Â It flows evenly and misses the cord as you sew. That means you can pull up a clean gathering row once the stitch is completed.Â Almost every machine has the multi-stitch Zig-zag and that will also work as a stitch of choice.
Start with a piece of fabric that is about 3 X the width of the finished dress. I used the entire 45″ width for a small child’s dress front.Â Make sure you allow the finished length and hem. The cord pieces are each cut the length of the fabric. Knot 3Â cords together at one end with an overhand knot and thread the cord throught the 5 cord foot evenly. Sew the first row aboutÂ 3/4″ from the top edge. Each row after that should be spaced evenly. Do at least 3 rows or 5 rows, depending on the style and size of the garment. The 5 hole cording foot the perfect for machine smocking. Use pearl cotton or #10 crochet cotton to stitch over. I spaced my rows the width of the presser foot. I think the results are pretty impressive.
Once you are done stitching, pull the gathering up and even the gathers. Take the pulled cords and tie them off. Lay your pattern piece over the gathering and trace the pattern outline with a washaway marker. Top stitch the marking and cut away the excess at the neckline and shoulders.
Have fun smocking.