Smocking Tutorial: Trailing Vine


“Once Upon a Time” by Lorraine Bergeron

Designed by Lorraine Bergeron, this precious bishop bubble – “Once Upon a Time” – from issue #93 of Australian Smocking & Embroidery looks like it may have floated in straight from a fairy tale. With lace-trimmed sleeves, whimsical trailing vine smocking and perfect little rosebud embroidery, it’s comfortable enough for playtime yet detailed enough to lend itself to more special occasions.

Trailing vine – which can be seen here on both the bodice and the sleeves – is a series of straight and stepped outline or stem stitches which create a smooth curved line. The “vine” can be used as a foundation for surface embroidery. In this example the outline stitch is used to form a trailing vine which comprises six stepped stitches and four straight stitches. Read on below for a few tips for working trailing vine as well as the step-by-step stitch tutorial as shared in Australian Smocking & Embroidery Issue #93.


Trailing vine can be seen on both the smocked bodice and sleeves.

Trailing Vine Hints
1. To help keep the stitching even, use half space rows or draw a line across the tips of the pleats at the half space with a removable fabric marker. Alternatively, count the pleats and use a pin to mark where each design repeat will begin. Using a removable fabric marker, draw the curve of the vine between each pair of pins.
2. Use a thread long enough to complete the entire row. It is difficult to achieve a neat join when stitching curves.
3. To ensure your stitches form a solid line, only step up and down a very short distance from one pleat to the next. If the steps you take are too far apart, your stitching will resemble trellis rather than stem or outline stitch.

Trailing Vine Smocking Tutorial
NOTE: Sample uses 3 strands of DMC cotton for the trailing vine.


1. Secure the thread on the back. Bring to the front in the valley between pleats 1 and 2. Take the needle back through pleat 1 ready to begin stitching.

2. Straight stitches. Pull the thread through. With the thread above and the needle held horizontally, take it from right to left through pleat 2.


3. Pull the thread through until the stitch sits snugly against the pleats. Keeping the needle horizontal and the thread above, take the needle through pleat 3.

4. Pull the thread through as before. Work two more outline stitches across the row.


5. Stepped stitches. Keeping the needle horizontal and the thread above, take it through pleat 6, a sixth of the way to the next pleating row.

6. Pull thread through. Work five more stepped stitches, each a sixth space apart. For the last stitch the needle goes through the pleat on the pleating row.

7. Straight stitches. With the thread above the needle, work four straight outline stitches along the pleating row for the base of the vine.


8. Stepped stitches. With the needle horizontal and thread above, take the needle through the next pleat, a sixth of the way up to the next pleating row.

9. Pull thread through. With the thread above, work five more stepped stitches, each a sixth space apart. The last stepped stitch is on the pleating row.

10. Continue, working four straight stitches and six stepped stitches in sequence. Keep the curves as even as possible.

Check out issue #93 of Australian Smocking & Embroidery for the pattern (sizes 6, 12 & 18 months) and instructions for making “Once Upon a Time.” In addition to this darling design, this issue of the magazine also includes six other great patterns plus a variety of step-by-step tutorials for sewing, smocking and embroidery.

Happy Sewing,