When I first started the Smocking Arts Guild (SAGA) Smock-Along Facebook Group page, I always said that there were no smocking police. We were there to improve our skills, support one another and have fun! Don't get me wrong, I do believe in standards. We all hopefully want to improve our stitching and smocking, but at the same time we all have to start somewhere. SAGA has a Artisan program and correspondence classes to help us improve our art, and of course, practice makes perfect, or at least improvement! When I spoke about the smocking police, I didn't know that there were quilting police until I read this blog post by Karlee Porter. I truly admire how she handled the situation, both in forgiving her friend and in saving her quilt. I wonder if someone had ripped my first smocked dress, would I still be smocking today? Would I still be enjoying the art form that has brought me such pleasure over the years? Below is a picture of my first picture smocked dress from 18 years ago. I hesitate to show it to you because it has a ton of problems: the backsmocking isn't holding the pleats, so much background fabric is showing between the stacked cables, and the piping is all out of proportion to the rest of the dress, just to name a few!
But my daughter wore this dress and loved it for two years. I was so proud I had made it for her, and because I was encouraged by others, rather than discouraged, I kept at it and improved. The smocking plate I stitched is originally from Sew Beautiful magazine. Martha Pullen has just released it and you can find it here.
Although this is a poor example, you may notice that rather than stitching the color changes for the pumpkins that the pattern designates, I used variegated floss. If you would like to give it a try, or want more information, I blogged about using variegated floss in picture smocking here. So next time you see someone's smocking that is less than perfect, (or even downright horrendous), I hope you remember that we all need to start somewhere, and that smocked dress or jon jon was probably stitched in love for a precious child, Be the word of encouragement, be gentle in your criticism, and keep the smocking police at bay!