I have always been a firm believer that smocking shouldn't be limited to children's clothes. In fact my first exposure to smocking was when my college roommate's mom made a smocked white dress for her from a delicate and airy white gauze with smocking at the waist and shoulders. She wore that dress for her rehearsal dinner! I have had the Alice top from Tessuti fabrics on my "Things I want to Sew" Pinterest Board for some time, partly because I liked the style and partly because I thought it lend itself to smocking! So this is a quick tutorial on how to adapt the Alice top (or dress - the pattern includes a dress as well) for smocking.
First I shortened both the front and back yokes by 2 inches.
The fullness of the top will release from the bottom of the smocking and I wanted that release to occur from the same point as originally designed in the pattern. If I didn't shorten the yokes, the release would occur two inches lower and that line would visually be right across my bust line - not the most flattering spot! I could have left the back yoke and body pieces the way they were, but by raising the back as well, I have lined up both the front and back seam lines. Next I added 2 inches to the front and back body.
Finally I needed to add the extra fullness that the smocking required. I only added fullness to the front piece. Since this piece is cut on the fold, I simply shifted the piece over away from the fold to add the fullness to the center front.
To calculate the amount of fullness to add, measure the distance across the top edge of the front bodice piece, subtract the seam allowance and multiply by 2.5. That is the total width needed of the top edge of the front body piece.
6 3/4" (front bodice) minus 3/8"(seam allowance) times 2.5 equals 16 inches (rounded).
so I shifted the pattern piece over so the top edge width is 16 inches and the total width of the front pattern piece measured at the top of the pattern piece is 32 inches. Traditionally English smocking is a 3 to 1 ratio, but I didn't want my top to be too full. I felt the pleats were full enough at a 2.5 to 1 ratio. I also added mini-piping to both the front and back yoke seams of the top. Here is a full tutorial on making mini-piping.
The Smocking Design is a variation of Bizet Lace by Kelli Fox. The fabric used for this top is Teal Flowers Organic Double Gauze. If you have never sewn with Double Gauze, see my blog post and video on this wonderful fabric! Also check out my Pinterest Board on Double Gauze for other wonderful projects using Double Gauze!
I am looking forward to wearing my Alice Top!