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.
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.
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.
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.
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!