One of my plans for this holiday, was to finish my apron, but …. something went wrong and I ended up with a Barbie-sized apron.... :-) I'm going to give smocking another try, by making a small sampler first. That way, I can practice the stitches, and I can use the sampler in workshops and demonstrations.
Here are some things I've learned along the way:
The final width of the apron is determined by two things: the stitches used, and the depth of the pleads.
If you only use honeycomb stitch, my seventies craft manuals indicate that 1,5 or twice the length of fabric might be enough. Other smock stitches are less flexible, which means you probably need 2 or 3 times the length of fabric. (In my case, that would mean using about 200cm fabric for my apron, that's quit a lot).
But, to make matters more complicated, the depth of the pleads is also important. The deeper the folds, the more fabric you will need.
Christina did a very interesting experiment to see what happens when you vary the depths of the pleads:http://stolte.wordpress.com/2009/07/16/comparative-smocking/#comment-196
And this is one of her beautiful aprons:http://stolte.wordpress.com/2009/07/20/another-gatheded-apron/
Christina, thanks for posting this! ( And Trude, thanks for pointing Christina's blog out to me)
Below is a smocking tutorial from the book Clothing For Women: Selection, Design, Construction, A practical manual for school and home, Laura I. Baldt, 1916, J. B. Lippincott Company. You can read this on-line here and/or go directly to the smocking part here (and scroll down)