We all want our stitched projects to have a uniquely handmade look — without looking noticeably homemade. In smocking, keeping the pleats straight during construction is important for giving your garment a professional look. We’ve gathered together some expert tips for neat pleats that designer Michie’ Mooney shared in our March/April 2012 issue of Sew Beautiful… plus her adorable Chocolate Bunnies smocking graph! These smocked bunnies are an ideal first project for anyone new to picture smocking, and because they only need six rows of smocking, they are great for baby garments.
Of course, this smocking plate is picture-perfect for Easter garments! On the sample shown here, Michie’ used the plate on a classic little white outfit for baby’s first Easter. She used her own pattern, Creations by Michie’ #138, white pique fabric (a nice weight for a cool spring morning) and aqua piping. For the smocking, she used DMC Six Strand Embroidery floss in the following colors: white, #151 pink, #420 dk hazelnut brown, #433 med brown, #327 vy lt blue and #964 lt sea green.
• When pleating an insert, pleat an extra holding row at the top and bottom of the pleated piece. The extra row will help keep the pleats from shifting during construction. For example, if the smocking design requires six rows of smocking, you will pleat eight rows (fig. 1).
• Next, smock a cable stitch between the holding row and Row 1, and the holding row and Row 6. The cable stitch will be stitched with two strands of floss, and the floss should match the fabric color (fig. 2).
• Count the pleats to find the center of the insert. Complete the smocking design according to the graph.
1. Pin smocked insert to a lace shaping board, evenly distribute pleats and check to make sure that pleats are straight vertically.
2. Cut two pieces of piping according to pattern instructions. Mark center of piping and pin to marked center of insert barely above Row 1.
3. Using a stitch length of 3.5, stitch piping to insert; stitching close to cord (fig. 3).
Wonder Tape Method
Wonder Tape may be used instead of the cable stitch between holding rows and Rows 1 and 6.
1. Pin insert right side up to a board and make sure that pleats are straight. Place Wonder Tape on top of pleats with sticky side down.
2. Carefully pull off top paper layer from tape and press piping to Wonder Tape (fig. 4).
3. Using a stitch length of 3.5, stitch piping to insert, stitching close to cord; refer to figure 3.
Chocolate Bunnies Smocking Graph and Instructions
By Michie’ Mooney
1. Backsmock Rows 2, 3, and 4.
2. Cable across Rows 1, 5, and 6.
3. For center right bunny, count ten pleats to right of center. Begin on Row 4 with a down half stitch and work ten whole cables. Continue working design upward, following graph. After top half of bunny is complete, continue to stitch bottom half.
4. For far right bunny, count forty-two pleats to right of center and work bunny following instructions for previous bunny.
5. For center left bunny, count twenty-one pleats to left of center. Begin on Row 4 with a down cable and work ten cables and finish bunny as before.
6. Repeat for far left bunny, counting fifty-three pleats to left of center.
Grass: Three strands
Eyes: One bullion wrap, three strands
Tail: One bullion wrap, six strands, three times
Bow: Lazy daisy, three strands
Shop the Martha Pullen online store to find more Easter project ideas. And, be sure to check out Martha Pullen’s Pleating video download if you’d like to learn more helpful pleating tips.