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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 14, Issue 7 (October 2, 1939)


For babies’ and children's clothes, and for the housewife's morning frocks and overalls, no form of needlecraft is simpler or more attractive than smocking. Any type of simple garment which requires gathered fullness lends itself to smocking. So we find children's full skirts smocked on to a fitting yoke or at the waistline to give a belted effect. Full sleeves may be smocked to hold them in above the elbow or at the wrist. Some small girls’ frocks are smocked at the round neck-line after the style of peasant blouses.” Little boy” smocks, and matching pants which show below them, are charming. Heavy tussore is a splendid fabric for this type of garment.

Mother may have her morning overall or her daintiest blouse smocked on to a shaped yoke; or the yoke itself may be of smocking. A youthful printed cotton may have a corselet effect at the waist with several inches of smocking. Smocking adds charm to “very best” undies. A dainty sprigged silk or voile may have a smocked waist and yoke.

One great advantage of smocking is that it will give, almost like elastic. For growing children this is a speciallyneeded quality.

Smocking is always worked before the garment is made up. A suitable transfer, consisting of dots at the required intervals (1/4-inch between dots for silks, muslins, fine linens; 3/8-inch between dots for woollens and velvets; 1/2-inch between dots for very heavy materials) is ironed on to the wrong side of the material. A contrast tacking thread is run along each row, on the wrong side, picking up each dot with the needle. (See Fig. 1). In doing this preliminary work (which will be removed when the smocking is finished) be sure to start your running thread with a double stitch as well as a knotAt the end of each row, wind spare thread in a figure-of-eight round a pin until you are ready to draw up the fullness to the required length (about onethird of the “flat” length). Then fasten securely. Care taken in this preliminary work will ensure successful smocking.

The right side of the gathered material presents a series of pleats, on which the smocking stitches are worked from left to right.

Outline Stitch.—This is the commonest smocking stitch, and the one usually used for the top row to hold the gathers firm. In this stitch the needle, pointing from right to left, takes up the top of each pleat in turn. Progress is from left to right. The thread is kept below the needle (Fig. 2). Take care to keep each stitch exactly on top of the gathering stitch.

Double Outline Stitch.—Work two rows of outline stitch closely together, in the top row holding the embroidery thread above the needle, in the bottom row below it.

Vandyke Stitch.—This stitch is particularly useful as it is more elastic than either outline or cable stitch. The various forms of vandykes are worked with outline stitch. In the simplest, the first stitch takes up the first pleat just on top of a gathering thread, the second stitch takes up the second pleat a little above the gathering thread, the third stitch takes the third pleat a little above again, and the fourth stitch is worked directly on the line of gathers above. Three stitches are then worked down in descending order, then three up, and so on. In working up, page 58 the thread is held below the needle, and in working down the thread is held above the needle. (See Fig. 3).

Single Cable Stitch is a variation of outline stitch, the thread being held below the needle for the first stitch, above it for the second, below it for the third, and so on. (Fig. 4).

Double Cable Stitch consists of two rows of single cable worked closely together. In the second row the thread is held above the needle for the first stitch, below for second, etc. (alternate to top row).