I have had plans to make up Sweet Little Kisses in this lovely Liberty Knit and add a touch of smocking for quite some time now, but the arrival of a second daughter to my nephew and his wife meant that is was time to create some sister outfits! Sweet Little Kisses has gathering in the front, so adding the smocking is simple. Below I will walk you through it step by step.
Altering the Pattern:
The front of the dress is cut out on the fold. Simply shift the pattern piece over 1 inch from the fold. This means you are adding 2 inches to the center front of the dress.
Don't cut out the pattern piece! Instead cut a rectangular block that is the total height and width of the pattern piece. Using a removable market, mark the top of the pattern piece at the center front neckline. Draw a line at that level across the entire block. (Fabric shown above is Liberty Autumn Knit).
Pleat the Fabric:
Use the line that you just drew as the guideline to pleat the block of fabric. The first pleating thread should be 1 full space away from the line.
Pleat as many rows as you would like. I pleated 6 rows. For help with pleating knits, see my video tutorial here, and for general help with sewing knits, check out this series. Flatten out the pleating rows and again place the pattern piece on the fabric block, placing it one inch away from the folded edge and lining the center front neck edge up with the drawn line.
Cut out the Dress Front. Stitch the gathering lines in the seam allowance on the dress front as instructed in the pattern. Remove the pleating threads from each side so they line up with the gathering dots on the pattern.
Count the pleats to make sure you have an even number. I have 36 on the larger size and 30 on the smaller size.
Finish the Neckline:
Use the gathering threads and the top pleating thread to pull up the neckline to match the measurement given in the pattern. I finished the neckline and sleeves with a contrasting knit band rather than a bias binding as the pattern suggests. I eliminated the back opening and simply sewed up the seam since I was making this in a knit. If I thought about it ahead of time, I could have cut the back out on the fold as well. For the bindings, simply measure the circumference of the neckline or sleeve. Cut a knit strip the length of that measurement and 1 3/4" wide. Sew the band into a circle by sewing the short ends together with a 3/8 seam allowance. Fold the long sides together in half and attach the band to the dress with rights sides together, matching raw edges and stitching with a 3/8 seam. either using a serger or using the lightening stitch on your machine. Turn the band to the right side. Smock the design of your choosing. The larger dress is smocked with Blooming Rose and the smaller set with this simple flower, both of which are free designs. From start to finish, Sweet Little Kisses took me a day to smock and construct. If you choose to just sew it without the smocking, it easily goes together in a few hours. I hope you will try sewing and smocking Sweet Little Kisses!