I will admit it – smocking is one of the more challenging aspects of sewing. For it to look good, it has to be done right and getting it right takes a lot of patience, practice and precision. But… once you manage to get a handle on it, you’re all set for the most amazing and creatively fulfilling journey yet.

Smocking can add an interesting dimension to all your sewing projects. Imagine taking a flat swatch of fabric and transforming it into a rocking, smocking three dimensional cushion cover, a charming baby dress or a even sexy little apron.  The sense of creative accomplishment this can give you is reward in itself.

Start with Samplers

Before you plunge right into reading instructions and getting started with your first project, it does pay to take some time to learn the basics of smoking. Understand the terminology and the principles involved. As I’ve said, this is a technique that requires a little more precision than most other sewing techniques and mastering it calls for a lot of practice and patience.

Make a sampler. In fact, make more than one sampler. Try out different techniques. Try out the same technique on different types of fabrics. Compare the results and see what works for you and what doesn’t. Just in creating the samples itself, you will be giving yourself some invaluable practice.

Don’t Dive In the Deep End

Once you understand the difference between pleats and rows, quarter spaces and half spaces and you’ve figured out how to get the fabric pleated, you’re all set to get started. As always, when embarking upon any new project, the same rule applies – keep it simple. I mean it, keep it really, really simple. Sure, you just can’t wait to be able to replicate those fabulous beauties you’ve seen in all those sewing newsletters you subscribe to. Take my advice – don’t.

You’ll get there eventually but for the moment, choose the simplest project you can think of. Why? The more complicated the project, the longer it will take. This will tax your patience and you will find your enthusiasm just fading off after a while. Whereas if you start with an easy project like a simple smocked Christmas ornament, you’ll be done in no time at all and that wonderful feeling of pride and triumph will be incentive enough for you to keep going on.

You’re On Your Way!

One of the easiest smocking projects to take up after smocked Christmas ornaments is a square or rectangular pillow cover. It only involves all straight seams and the only part you may find a bit tricky is mitering the corners but really, that’s not a major obstacle at all.

As you get more and more familiar with the basics of smocking, it’s time to start experimenting with more complex techniques and projects. A smoked apron is another easy project to take on, especially if you’ve learnt how to sew an apron in school. I could never understand why but most schools that have sewing in their curriculum always end up teaching students how to sew an apron of all things!

But I digress. If you know how to sew an apron, adding smocking into the mix is not very difficult at all. Smocked aprons can make for a really cool gift idea. Don’t forget to make one for yourself. A suggestively smocked apron can make for some smoking hot moments in the kitchen!