Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I Smock

Yesterday I took a break. I had the flat to myself for several hours which is quite rare. I often craved "alone time" and thought of a dozen things I could do at home which I would enjoy. Instead, I ended up doing serious housework. The funny thing is serious housework is something I can do only when there's no one else around.

So I blew my morning and I found that I didn't really need a break so I started on my second attempt at smocking. More on that later.
This piece of ready pleated green fabric with lace trim was given to me by Dee, my smocking mate. It is so nice of her! I have no access to a pleating machine and have a vague idea about hand pleating so I use this green fabric for reference. Dee has a blog Make Mine Silk. Check her out.

To do my pleating I use water soluble ink to mark dots on the linen. Then I used a basting needle to insert running stitches on the dots. I noticed on Dee's gift-fabric, the stitches on one side (lets call it the right side) are longer than the stitches on the wrong side. I could not achieve that with manual marking as it would be too tedious so all my stitches are even.
My pleats look pretty even.

My desire to learn smocking started many years ago when my girl was still little. Her paternal aunt, let's call her "Ah Mai" gave her a lot of gorgeous handmade dresses and many of these dresses had smocked details. Apart from my primary school teachers, Ah Mai is the only other fabric handmade person I know. She is old school. She does crochet, embroidery and dresses. Could I learn from her? I doubt it. The language barrier is too huge to overcome. My girl has outgrown dresses. She's into Tees and white shorts now. I had kept Ah Mai's dresses in storage imagining one day in the future, I could give them to my grand daughters. Hehe. (Hope my girl doesn't read this. She'll scream!) Unfortunately a couple of years ago, Ah Mai insisted I return the dresses to her. She wanted to keep them for someone else's grand daughters. So I had part with the dresses. But I kept two. Shhh. Don't tell her. I hope she didn't keep track.
Check out the smocked details. Did you see the lovely bullion roses?
I hope that in the future, I could make a smocked dress for you know who!

And this is what I sewed last night. I used diamond stitch which was very hard to understand but after a while, I got the hang of it. The most important part was where to place the loose thread before you sew! I think this is a major improvement from my first smocked effort.

For my next MAAD, my target is 6 new bags. It should be easy to achieve. This week I'm working on a camera bag. It's my first camera bag so it may take a while. Last night, my mom ordered a bag to give to a friend! No, of course I'm not charging her. My mom is one of my surprise supporter of my handmade bags. "Surprise" seeing how she was so resistant to my using a sewing machine. (She's a hand sewer) She owns 3 of my bags one of which is a bag similar in design to the Recessed Zipper Shoulder Bag for which I wrote a tutorial a while back. Her brief is simple: Must fit a foldable umbrella and have 2 inside pockets. 

I'll see you guys in my next post.

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Chris H said...

How weird to ask for the dresses back! I have never heard of anyone doing that before.
Nice to know you 'kept' a couple. They are gorgeous.
I am sure you will get better at the smocking. I have never tried it.
Hey, you could try to smock a bag in some way! Might be an interesting touch. lol

Lauren Colless said...

I'm with Chris - I can't believe someone would ask for the gift back, unless you were planning to give them away anyway... We won't tell Ah Mai that you kept two :D
I've never tried smocking either, although its on my one-day list!!!

seamsgreat said...

I am also a smocker and I think your first attempt is wonderful! ~janet g

by night said...

These smocks are completely amazing! No wonder you kept 2 of these dresses! and no wonder too, you wish to learn how to make these!

tamdoll said...

Your stitches look perfect! I can't imagine ever trying this out. My neighbor once gave me some dresses that she wore when she was little - you can see the pictures here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tamdoll/sets/72157623672512111/
They're all handmade and hand-stitched with lots of smocking.

antmee said...

Your smocking looks like you have been doing it for years! Well done! I also think smocking incorporated into some bags would look very stylish.

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