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Smocked Night and Day Dress Contest Entry

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Unless you’ve been sewing under a rock lately, rumors that blogger Gertie has released a new dress pattern have probably drifted past your ears.

It has 72 different options (seriously!), which makes it quite the buy-in-bulk-and-save deal, but I hadn’t really considered getting it because I have a slew of untouched patterns at home. Until – I found out that she was running a contest for the best dress design.

 

Night and Day Dress pattern options

 

As I was browsing the contest entries last week (on Facebook and Instagram under #nightanddaydresscontest), I noticed the gathered yoked skirt and bishop sleeves, and realized they were perfect for smocking.

Since I usually follow the design rule-of-thumb that accents should come in threes, I added the collar with smocked detail as well.

I found this feather-light wool crepe in my stash. It’s so thin that I could easily see through it to mark my smocking grid.

A clarification here –  there are different types of smocking, one of the most well-know being English smocking, where you pleat the fabric first, then sew along the pleats.

I used a different method, called direct smocking. To make it, I marked a dot grid on my fabric, then sewed sets of dots together in a pattern to form the pleats. This particular pattern is called the Honeycomb pattern.

Honey comb stitch pattern. Curved lines indicate where two dots are sewn to each other. The arrows show which stitch comes next. Though actually, I just realized this is the pattern for a left hander. Righties, do the mirror image of this, working from right to left. Sorry!

I made a sample since of the smocking to see what size I like. To get the paper grid, I googled “1cm x 1cm dot grid” and found this one from VectorStock.com. The left portion of the sample I did 1cm x 1cm (3/8″ x 3/8″). In the center I marked every other dot to make a 2cm x 2cm (3/4″ x 3/4″) grid. The right side has 3cm (1-1/8″) squares.

I also experimented with adding beads on the right side of the sample. And at the far right, you’ll notice that the large pattern is slightly narrower and looks more diamond-shaped. That’s because after I finished the smocking stitches, I went back with matching turquoise thread and added a stitch behind the beads to pinch the pleats more tightly together.

This is my favorite variation of the four – what do you like the most?

Wrong side of the smocking – also quite pretty!

Now that I’ve come up with the idea, I want to make the dress regardless of whether I win the pattern or not. The real challenge will be figuring out how much fabric I need in the skirt and  – especially – the sleeves so that it ends up with the right circumference once it’s been smocked.

My contest entry – I tried to make it look like me. I don’t think the face really worked but the hair and the glasses are right. And the shoes are less high-heeled than in Gertie’s template because I can’t walk in such high shoes.

The collar should be less challenging; my plane is to smock the fabric before I cut those pattern pieces out. We’ll see if it works!

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