Here’s another new passion of mine – smocking. I haven’t actually started yet because I am gathering my gear. Here’s what I have learned so far if you are interested in learning this forgotten art.
This all started because Robert’s aunt mentioned in passing that she has a smocking pleater. Wait, what!! I have been wanting to learn to smock for so long but never really pursued it because I assumed it was complex, time consuming and too hard for me. Robert’s aunt set me on the right path recommending websites to check out and books to explore. After many hours of research on the internet I have ordered a beginner’s book and already have my eye on my first two big projects.
Pattern website I enjoyed:
Children’s Corner – this site has lots of old fashioned smocking patterns and other dress patterns. This was my recommended first web site to check outhttp://www.childrenscornerstore.com/patterns.html
Garden Fairies Trading Company – this place has everything, especially good description on books they carry and which patterns are good for beginners. I learned the most about beginning smocking here. The site is somewhat hard to navigate though but hang in there, there is good stuff buried in there. http://www.smockingstore.com/patternswecarry.html
Creative Keepsakes – Here are my favorite patterns. They are modern, versatile and are supposed to have great instruction for beginners. I will be ordering Bishop Trio and Creative A-Lines once I get the hang of things. The website has some problems loading certain pages – like the catalog but I found pictures on other sites. http://www.creativekeepsake.com/gallery.html
Now for a beginner’s guide, first I checked out every book on smocking that I could request from our library district. This gave me a good taste of what was out there. None were just right so I decided to order a used book on ebay. The recommended beginner book from Garden Fairies is Ellen McCarn on English Smocking. I snagged this with shipping for $9! Some other titles I would like for my library are The Busy Mother’s Guide to Sewing Children’s Clothes by Nancy Coburn (seriously that is the title, I didn’t make that up). Another one is A to Z Smocking by the publishes of AS & E.
A good magazine to check out from the library is Sew Beautiful. It has a combination of modern ideas and classic patterns. I got some good inspiration here.
As a nice surprise Robert’s aunt and cousin sent me a starter package in the mail. It contained several pre-smocked pieces of fabric. Two were practice plates and the other two were ready to smock and finish bonnets. Bonnets must be a good starter project. We will see if I can handle it.
Now if you don’t have an aunt and cousin who smock try your local independent quilt store and ask if they can recommend smockers in your area, mine did. Or you can get your first project together and send it to someone who will pleat it for you for less than $5. Many of the smocking stores out there will offer this service, sorry I can’t recommend one.
Remember I am new to this so please leave me a comment and let me know of other sources and stores that you love. I do hope you are inspired to revive this lost art. I know your daughters or granddaughters will appreciate it.