Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hand Mades for Children
smock·ing:  (noun)   Needlework decoration of small, regularly spaced gathers stitched into a honeycomb pattern.
I won't tell you how long it has been since I first learned to smock.  It was a while ago, let's leave it at that.  But I remember it well.  The lessons were offered by Dottie, a lovely young woman from Georgia.  She had relocated to Southern Indiana with her husband and sweet little boy.  Along with her genteel accent, she brought along her lovely heirloom sewing skills that southern women are taught at the knees of thier Mothers and Grandmothers.      

A dining room table in Dottie's house sufficed for her shop.  I had two small children at home and was soon caught up in the magic of this new craft.  I was able to create sweet designer quality outfits for them for very little money.  I even started sewing for others and not long after, a stream of Moms and Grandmas started showing up at my door to order and purchase my little creations, and then to learn the art of smocking as well. Dottie had moved back to Georgia with her family by this time.   She and her husband missed the southern charm.  Soon I was selling supplies.  My living room had a spinner rack of clothing patterns and I had binders filled with the smocking designs or patterns one uses to create the designs over fabric.

Smocking fabric is first prepared using a special hand cranked roller tool called a pleater.  Light weight fabric is used.  The beauty of the garment is the smocking design itself.  This can be either a geometric pattern or a cute little picture, known as "picture smocking".  A design is carefully sewn over the pleated fabric per the design pattern and using the underlying threads that pierce the fabric into pleats as a guide.  After the design is done, the gathering threads holding the pleats are removed leaving the pleats held together by the design stitches on top.

I no longer have my little shop.  My little ones grew up and one by one went out the door.  I went back to school.  Our lives change and we move on.  But now there is a second generation of little ones to think about.  I have entered my third life phase and my name has been changed to Mimi.  My smocking patterns were carefully and safely tucked away in special little cases.  The sewing patterns, embroidery floss, needles, pleater, and all the essential tools have been patiently waiting for my return. I believe that the classic beauty of hand made children's clothing never goes out of style.  More on this subject later.  For now...sigh, the smocking. 

In Walnut Creek, CA, Rabbit Whiskers takes it to a whole new art form

All hand embroidery, original design! 

To learn more about smocking and how to get started or where to find supplies:


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