Smocking Tutorial: How to Stitch Cable Picots

Cable picots are shown here on the colorful, vibrant Flora dress designed by Susan O’Connor.

Beautiful smocking can add so much detail and interest to a sewing project, and we have a fantastic stitch technique to share with you today: cable picots. Using the basic cable stitch as a base, cable picots create a pretty, dainty line. They can be worked in the same or contrasting color with the base cable row. The technique is pictured here on the Flora dress designed by Susan O’Connor and featured in the book, Perfect Party Dresses. Follow the tutorial below, as featured in Perfect Party Dresses, to learn how to stitch cable picots.

cable picots

Cable picots (and fun decorative bows!) add terrific accent details to a basic smocking design.


  • The picots can be spaced as required. Picots that are very widely spaced should be worked by beginning and ending the thread at each picot as carrying it across the back will reduce the elasticity of the smocking.
  • Example was stitched using DMC Stranded Cotton and a No. 6 crewel needle
  • This tutorial assumes knowledge of the basic cable stitch. If you are new to smocking, be sure to check out the products at the end of this post for great resources to help you learn how to smock.

Cable Picot Tutorial

1. Work a base row of cable stitch.

Step 1

2. Bring the thread to the front on the right hand side of the first pleat.

Step 2

3. Take the needle back through the first pleat.

Step 3

4. Pull the thread through. Work three cables, under, over, under.

Step 4

5. Take the needle to the back through the valley of the last cable stitch.

Step 5

6. Bring the thread to the front on the right hand side of the first pleat of the next picot.

Step 6

7. Take the needle back through the first pleat.

Step 7

8. Work three cables in the same manner as before.

Step 8

9. Continue working cable picots across the row.

cable picots

Step 9

Don’t miss these resources for more smocking tips and projects:

With three petticoats and 12 gorgeous smocked dresses (including the Flora dress featured in this blog post), Perfect Party Dresses includes instructions, step-by-step photographs, smocking graphs, construction diagrams and multi-size lift-out patterns.

If you’ve ever wanted to learn to smock, this is the video for you! Martha Pullen takes you from the very basics through a variety of smocking stitches and covers picture smocking and machine smocking.

Take patterns to new horizons with Lezette Thomason’s creative smocking instructions on this video. Using simple tools and supplies, she shows how to alter existing plain patterns to add smocking or pleats.

4 thoughts on “Smocking Tutorial: How to Stitch Cable Picots

  1. Charlotte Moody

    That is so adorable! Are you saying you tie off the picot stitch after the three cable stitches each time? That’s a lot of tying off on the back!


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