Wednesday, December 22

A smocked apron: Some things I've learned along the way

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)


First, make the pleads.


Then, start stitching. They make it look so easy :-)


4 comments:

martelvonc said...

When I made my apron I measured from hip bone to hip bone and doubled that. This is the width of my fabric. My dots are sort of standard 1/2" apart. I started my smocking about 1" in on either side.

This may be a stupid question...but did you pull out the gathering strings when you were done smocking? WHne you do it will stretch out to the finished shape.

stolte said...

I'm glad you found my post useful!

/Cristina

home handymum said...

I've just found your blog and am SO pleased. Thankyou :)

I had a rush of blood to the head today while looking at Anglo Saxon illuminated manuscripts - do you think that the tight sleeves, with what look like lots of scrunched up fabric at the wrists, might actually be smocked sleeves? If the stitching were done in bands of smocking (rather than an even honeycomb), in contrasting thread, it could well look like concentric rings, and the illuminator may have been drawing the embroidered 'rings', rather than fabric wrinkles.

As I say, it was just something that occurred to me, and i have no basis for it, and the internet seems to imply that no-one else thinks this, at present.

But in defense of the idea;
1. I've seen some poorly done photographs of smocking (in older books) where the horizontal stripe of embroidery is much easier to see than the vertical gathers of the fabric (and if you squint at them, they look not unlike what the illuminators drew)
2. Smocking would give the arm-hugging sleeves depicted, while still allowing the garment to be comfortably worn (bending at elbows, getting hands in, taking the jolly thing off...)
3. Anglo Saxons were world-renowned for their embroidery and stitchwork - at all social classes - despite this not being shown in the manuscripts. A needle-work solution to shaping a straight tube into a sleeve just seems sensible.

Thoughts?

Machteld said...

@ Martelvonc: yes, I did pull out the strings... :-)

@ Home Handymum: sorry, I can't really help you there...