Smocked Pearl

Hello fellow Simple Life sewists!  It’s Holly Lange here wanting to share something special with you today.  Christmas will be here in just a few short days!  Are you ready?  It always seems to sneak up on me no matter how hard I try to be prepared or ahead of schedule.  Christmas has always been my favorite season because it is a time of love, family and traditions.  While this year may look different than years past, we can still try to uphold some of our favorite traditions.  One of my favorite traditions is to make my daughter a Christmas dress each year.  This is probably something that many of you do also!  What a better way to honor the season than bringing back an old hand sewing technique, smocking, to pair with this year’s dress, a SlpCo Pearl!  I wanted a dress with a classic look to pair with my smocking and I love the neckline and short puff sleeve styles of this dress because it looks so timeless to me. 

Some of you may be experienced at smocking and some of you may have never tried it at all.  I am in the latter category since I never before tried smocking, but I was always so intrigued with it’s delicate, yet intricate design.  I have done hand embroidery and machine embroidery countless times, but never smocking.  I decided to dive in and try this amazing technique.  I took an online course and also got some tips from my mother.   

The actual smocking was completed over the course of the last several months.  Learning the actual stitches was not complicated at all, but it was time consuming.  There were also a couple of hiccups along the way……my serger broke down and needed to be repaired (which took 5 LONG weeks).  Also, my first fabric selection for the dress was unavailable and I had to scramble and make another choice last minute.  But, I finally completed my first smocked dress and I’m happy to share it with all of you!  

I’d like to share how I incorporated this smocked piece into the bodice of the Pearl dress because it takes a bit of planning and forethought.  I first took measurements of my smocked insert before deciding on placement within the actual bodice pattern piece.  I wanted to make sure it was centered and not too close to the neck or waist seam allowances.  Then, I made markings on the actual bodice front pattern piece and cut my bodice apart into 4 sections, the top bodice, 2 middle pieces (one for the actual smocking piece and a side bodice piece), and a bottom bodice piece.  Finally, I traced these pieces on another sheet of paper and included a 1/2 inch seam allowance to allow them to fit nicely back together in the proper size of the original bodice.  

Lastly, I cut out my pieces and started sewing them together.  I should note that I didn’t trace one of the 4 bodice pattern pieces because my smocking insert was going to be taking its place and I didn’t need to cut fabric for it.   Once this part was completed, I made sure to check that my smocked bodice fit within the same size as the original pattern piece.  After this, the rest of the Pearl dress came together quickly. 

I paired the smocked Christmas Pearl with some 1/2 inch double fold bias tape with picot trim on the sleeves and skirt bottom.  The smocking is trimmed with red velvet piping,  and my daughter is also wearing a pettiskirt underneath to give it some body.  While there are definitely flaws in my first attempt at smocking, I’m so very happy that I decided to give it a try.  I’m also happy that Pearl was the dress I paired with it.  However, I think it can easily be applied to any of the Simple Life woven dress/top patterns.  I’d love to know whether you’ve tried smocking yourself or if you will give it a try in the future?  

Many blessings to all of you and have a safe and wonderful holiday!  

-Holly Lange


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