In the knitting world, one learns the craft by starting with a scarf. In the smocking world, may I suggest one start with an ornament. Why an ornament? First, It is a small project. Instant, or at least quick gratification, helps when one is learning a new skill. Second, it has minimal sewing. I love to sew and enjoy the sewing as much as the smocking, but if one's goal is to learn smocking, then being able to bypass the sewing portion of a project can be a big help. Finally, it is a small commitment in terms of time and money. You can give it a try and if its not for you, move on. You haven't invested much of your time or finances determining if this is an art form you enjoy. In case you already enjoy smocking, and I hope you do, you might still want to give an ornament a try for all the reasons I have already listed. Everyone could use a little instant gratification in their lives!
So now that I have convinced you to try to smock an ornament, you can find the two ornaments that I have pictured here, and that I designed when I was President of the Smocking Arts Guild of America (SAGA) on their website. You can find further details and have your questions answered on the Facebook group page. While you are on the Facebook page, click on the file tab. There you will find the full directions for the Mystery Ornament (pictured at the top of this post) and Trees for Troops Ornament (pictured below):
If you would like step by step video instructions on how to smock an ornament, then check out my new Learn to Smock Course!
If smocking isn't your thing, there are also directions for a Normandy Lace Ornament.
Finally, if you would like to try a more complicated ornament, Pink Hollybush Smocked Wreath Kits come with pre-pleated fabric, step by step photo directions, and everything you need to stitch up a smocked wreath ornament.