Today I am turning the blog over to Kelli Fox who continues to smock for her lovely teenage daughter! Yes, you can do this and Kelli and her daughter Gates are here to show you how, so here is Kelli!
Many women have commented, and I agree, that I am fortunate my now 13-year-old daughter, Gates, is still willing to wear smocking. I do indeed count my blessings because smocking is a passion that has given me so much more than beautiful clothes and heirlooms. Smocking is a fairly small community of women across the globe, of which I consider all friends, and some of them I treasure like the Liberty fabrics in my stash!
Gates' willingness to wear smocking needs some qualifying: the fabric, color and garment matter a lot. I have joked about making her now 5'1" frame a lovely bishop, but I usually get the side eye. She and her cousins do love the angel sleeve nightgowns in lawns that I have made, but these days she doesn't seem interested in a puffy sleeved Easter bishop with cute bunnies hopping across the yoke. She was happy to wear smocked garments for special occasions through about 4th grade, but I have had to shift my focus to styles that are more age and trend appropriate where the smocking is more or less of an understatement that the careful eye would catch, but that didn't jump off the fabric at you. My most recent attempt was a knit, scoop neck dress with loose smocking at the waist.
The Staple Dress Pattern by April Rhodes caught my eye. First it is chic, versatile and the shirring at the waist looked easily adaptable to smocking. I bought the Grey Dot Organic knit fabric from Pink Hollybush because I knew it would be perfect for a variety of future projects: a baby sacque, a skirt or a knit dress. The pattern is definitely an all seasons style and offers two hemlines, of which, I did the hem longer in the back than in the front. The fabric is so soft and comfortable and drapes beautifully. As far as construction goes, I followed the pattern instructions exactly. Unless you add pockets,then it is simply front and back pieces because the sleeves are merely caps designed into the bodice. You bind the neck and hem the sleeves and skirt.
The only construction step I changed was pleating instead of shirring for the front and back pieces. I used the waistline points on the pattern piece to draw a pleating line across the entire width of the cut front piece. Once I drew my first line connecting the points, I drew a few lines above and below it. I made sure to pin my front and back pieces together at the sides to mark the points exactly on the back pieces to make sure the pleating lines would match at the side seams when stitched together. I matched the pleating lines up with the pleater needle grooves for pleating the fabric.
I did not adjust the width of the fabric at all to account for the size of the knit pleats because I could tell by looking at the pattern piece the amount of gathering was already limited and I needed as much width as possible to make sure once the garment was smocked that it would still fit over Gates' shoulders when she put it on. The elasticity of shirring would not have this problem, but the smocked floss does not have as much give. Generally speaking, when pleating a knit, you have to adjust for the ratio of pleats (See Smocking With Knits: Testing the Fabric) I did tie the front and back pieces off separately pulling out the pleating threads to the seam allowance. I actually measured Gates' waist to decide what my blocking width would be, then I added a few inches for those darn shoulders. I recommend blocking it generously because you can always tighten it up with your smocking. I finished constructing the dress before I smocked it. The smocking, like most smocking I do for Gates nowadays, was a simple geometric design in monochromatic colors.
Gates loves it. The dress is comfortable, she loves the longer hem in the back and the fact that she can layer it with sweaters. The organic knit is very soft and smooth and she can be a texture sensitive kid. I am happy because it was actually reasonably quick to make and I think it will be in her wardrobe for awhile. While we have yet to wrap up winter and enjoy spring, I am already thinking of summer and her next knit dress. My nieces have advised me that they would wear a smocked knit too just in case I had any extra knits laying around, which of course I am happy to do and to no ones surprise, I have fabric laying around!
Isn't Gates just lovely! Thank you to her and Kelli for this great post. I hope you continue to smock for the teenager or women in your life!