Saturday, July 25, 2009

Going up in smoke smocking!

Heheh…I feel like my head was smoking like a chimney as I tried to master the technique of smocking! LOL!

It looked like it was easy, and yes, I am sure that once you get the hang of things, it would be a breeze. But, even before you could even get the hang of things, you have to go through the learning process.

If I read it from the internet, it sounded easy. But, I think what made it hard for me was because the teachers at Epal did not actually go through with me the proper procedure of how to do the smocking like how much fabric do I need to make pleats to fit into a certain size of a body of a certain size chest.

They just told me to pleat the whole 45” wide fabric. But, the person I am learning to make this dress for is still small and has a chest of only 19”. The fabric, after pleating, is 12” just for the front. Double that and I will get 24”. The dress is going to be 5” bigger at the chest. When I explained this to the teacher, she said it should be just right once the smocking is completed.

Even when she taught me how to do the smocking patterns ( that what you call it?), she did not show me how to set the pleats to be even, and how tight and taut am I supposed to stitch the motifs. She just told me to stitch first, and said that later the embroidered motifs will be adjusted. I wondered whether if that is actually the correct way to do smocking.

For one, am I not supposed to secure the pleats first and even it out before I start on embroidering the motifs? My pleats kept moving as I embroidered. My pleats would sometimes end up to be 13" at some rows, and 12" at another row. Am I not supposed to leave some allowance for seams, because the teacher showed me to embroider right up to the edges of the pleats?

I surfed the internet looking for answers but could not find a satisfactory solution. *sigh*

I finally decided to post my questions at the NNC board and June, being a smocking expert, came to the rescue. Thanks, June! She explained it very clearly what I am supposed to do.

She suggested that I trace the smallest template out onto a cardboard, then reduce the cardboard to the size you deem fit. A photocopier could be used to shrink down the size instead of tracing out the templates.

She also suggested that I put pins at the end of one end of the pleated material and wind the pleated threads in a figure of 8.

Anyway, here is part of the smocking motifs that I had done so far, before I decided to post my message at NNC. Notice how uneven my embroidery and the pleats are?

I had to unpick several times as I kept on miscalculating and missing stitches.

I am not too pleased with the results, but, if I unpick it for the 3rd time, I think I might just end up abandoning this project totally! LOL! But, with June's clear explaination, I am a little bit more confident of doing the next stage of the embroidery.

However, I will need to go back to class to learn the rest of the motifs for the center portion. I can't wait for when the August Stitching Bee is coming up as June promised that she will do a demo on smocking.

Now I know why a smocked dress cost so much. Doing up the smocking motifs takes so much of one’s time. I almost gave up! LOL!

In fact, today, I went to check out a shop in Bangsar Village just to gauge the price of a smocking gown. The shop, Cotton Club, is selling their cute and oh so sweet smocking gowns at a starting price of RM70.00.

I already can’t wait to get this dress done up! I am alraedy thinking if I could make more of these dresses in the future! LOL! I already have plans with my brother, Ayis. I just need to find time to sit down and get to work! *wink*

BTW, I have completed the flower motif bag.

I completed it about two weeks ago but could not find time to take photos of it, and to blog about it.

Here is a close-up of the flower motif with a very simple embroidery work.

It’s not the best work. I could have done better, but, after having to do 7 embroidered flowers, I got bored and just wanted to get it over and done with! LOL

Nothing can beat the lovely embroidery work June did for Paul’s apron which she gave him for his birthday as his Birthday Exchange partner at NNC.

I will definitely have to practice more to get to the standard June is. OR, I could `cheat’ and use my upcoming embroidery machine to do the work for me! LOL! *wink* Sssshhhhh….

Oh, BTW, here is the progress on my mum’s bag.

Not much progress actually as I am only working on this bag in between my Epal projects. I hope to find some time to complete it very soon. But, as always, time always seems to elude me! LOL!


nikai said...

Check out Eli's blog about our visit to Ames, ya!

syima said...


Kak Nun,

I also have the same problems with my smocking gown, i had problems understanding the cable stitch, and the explanation i got, " tengok dalam buku" geram jugak, trainer kat Epal tu ramai dah berenti, the new girl tak arif sangat tentang smocking..i almost give up! i had to unpicked my stitching several times...i think the trainer should have taught me step by step on the processes rather than just ask me to follow the for the time being my gown is still hibernating..hihihi

Za said...

Hi Syima!

Thanks for dropping by my blog!

Yeah, I think some of the teachers there are not that fluent and efficient at teaching, but, Liza and Miera are not too bad. I think they are the better of them all. Helpful and cheerful too.

Anyway, I am going to try and finish off the smocking dress no matter what, though. I am getting a friend to teach me how to smock properly.

syima said...

Kak Nun/Kak Za,

Sorry, i don't know you personally, i previously address you as Kak Za, but then when i see people address you as kak nun, i thought that's the name you are always called..Sorry if i confused you..if it's ok with you, i'll stick to kak za then for the smocking gown, i'm looking at other alternatives like you said. looking up on the internet and also youtube...hopefully it will guide me..

Za said...

Hi Syima!

Thanks for clarifying things up. It's not a big problem, actually, cuma takut nanti kita tersilap orang. Orang dok la ingat kita kenal dia, tapi kita macam blur aje. LOL! *wink*

Yeah, I just went over to Craftworld at SS2 today to get myself the A-Z book of Smocking to self teach myself to do smocking.

Good luck to you too in looking for a solution to your smocking gown.

Hugs, and take care!

Pet said...

I subscribe to smocking blogs and articles. This came up today in my e-mail. I am also doing smocking after 3 years break from learning it. I send the pleat to someone for pleating as well as the sewing, but I love doing the smocking pattern as well as embroidery. Do drop by my latest post on 28-July and you can glimpse at my un-finish pc, yet to sew to blouse.