Sweet Candy Corn Smocking Graph and Tips

Looking for a sweet fall smocking design? Here’s the sweetest one you’ll find! This precious candy corn smocking design by Michié Mooney features the classic candy in its traditional form with a white top, orange center and yellow base. The seasonal plate was featured in our September/October 2012 issue of Sew Beautiful and is perfect for conventional smocked inserts or bishops. In the photo here, Michié worked up a matching bishop and bubble from her Creations by Michié pattern line with the smocking design. She used black twill (you could also use black cotton sateen) trimmed with black gingham piping. Read on below for a helpful picture smocking lesson for beginners, as well as the graph and instructions for smocking this design.

candy corn smocking

This Candy Corn smocking plate is a fall favorite!

Candy Corn by Michié Mooney

When I began smocking more than 33 years ago, information, classes and supplies were limited. With a lot of determination and tips from fellow enthusiasts, I smocked a few things while my three boys were small. By the time my daughter arrived, Martha Pullen and Sew Beautiful had introduced smocking to the world, and although I was ready by then to take my sewing to a whole new level, I never forgot all of the questions or struggles that plagued me as a new smocker. Today, I am always more than happy to share tips and tricks to help keep this beautiful art alive.

Picture smocking requires the ability to understand the graph, a little practice and a few tips to get you going in the right direction. In this article, I’ll answer the most frequently asked picture smocking questions I receive, as well as encourage you to practice my advice while smocking up “Candy Corn,” a simple stacking design that is perfect for beginners.

candy corn smocking

Sample garments use DMC Six Strand Embroidery Floss in the following colors:

  • White
  • #744 pale yellow
  • #970 lt pumpkin

How far apart should the rows be?
1. Complete first row of cable stitches according to graph. Insert needle to wrong side of fabric (fig. 1).

Figure 1

2. Turn fabric and graph upside down and bring needle up “a needle’s width” below first row of cable stitches (fig. 2). “Needle’s width” can be determined by laying needle below first row of cable stitches.

Figure 2

Figure 3

3. Keep needle straight and parallel to first row (fig. 3). Cable stitches should not overlap one another, but stack touching, so fabric is not visible between smocked rows (figs. 4 and 5).

Figure 4

Figure 5

How tightly should I smock?
Correct floss tension is important for taking your smocking from good to great! With each stitch, be aware of how tightly you are pulling your floss. The goal is for thread to rest flat across pleats; it should not be so loose that floss moves out of place or so tight that pleats are “choked” by the stitches (figs. 6 and 7).

Figure 6

Figure 7

What is backsmocking?
Backsmocking is a row of cable stitches or a combination of cable and wave stitches worked along a pleating guide thread on the wrong side. It serves to hold pleats in place in areas where there is no smocking on the right side. Backsmocking can be worked across one or a number of rows. Two strands of floss, in a color that matches the fabric, are used in backsmocking. Your smocking design should instruct you which rows to backsmock and what stitch combinations to use (fig. 8).

Figure 8

Smocking instructions:
Design as graphed is worked across 80 pleats on six rows. Pleat seven rows; first row is holding row and is not numbered.

1. Cable across full length of Row 1 beginning with an up cable.

2. Starting five pleats to left of center valley on Row 5 with white floss, cable nine starting with a down cable; trellis up five to Row 4; two-step wave to Row 4-1/2; trellis back down five to Row 5; cable nine. Continue pattern to end of row. Flip work and complete pattern across row.

3. Repeat smocking pattern in #744 (pale yellow) between Rows 4-1/2 and 5-1/2 and in #970 (lt pumpkin) between Rows 5 and 6.

4. Beginning with an up cable in #744 on Row 4 at gray cable indicated on graph, cable nine. Turn work upside down and cable nine.

5. Turn work right side up and cable seven with #970. Turn work upside down and cable five.

6. Turn work right side up and cable three with white, then one on top.

7. Backsmock a row of cables across Rows 2, 3 and 4. NOTE: For bishop backsmocking, work a three-step trellis between Rows 2 and 3.

candy corn smocking

Candy Corn smocking graph – click here for a printer-friendly download from Michié Mooney.


Michié Mooney’s passion for sewing started over 30 years ago with the arrival of her first child. Her hobby became a business in 2000 when she launched the Creations By Michié line of sewing patterns and books. The patterns reflect the classic styles that she enjoyed sewing for her children and now grandchildren.

Visit Michié’s website at creationsbymichie.com.


Enjoy this candy corn smocking graph? Check out the Sew Beautiful 2012 Collection CD for more great projects. This special collection is available as a CD or a digital download.

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