Trying to get started smocking can be a little difficult these days (but I am working on making it easier!). Classes are few and far between and the quality of youtube videos varies. I smocked my first dress from Kitty Benton's Sewing Classic Clothes for Children which I found at my local library (I made the cover dress)! So learning from a book is definitely possible. Whether you are just starting out, or looking for a few key reference books, here are my recommendations straight off of my book shelf. (please note, this post contains affiliate links which means I will earn a small commission if you click through and purchase the item).
First up, you need a good stitch guide and the A to Z of Smocking has step by step photos that walk you through each stitch.
The explanation of each of the steps is can be short, so also check out my Smocking Stitches Guide for step by step photos of most of the stitches and a more thorough explanation. An embroidery book that I enjoy and find helpful is Colour Confident Stitching. This book won't help you with your smocking stitches but will help you explore the use of color in your smocking. Remember smocking is just embroidery over pleated fabric, and some of the exercises in this book will help you think outside the box colorwise.
To walk you step by step through the process of your first smocked project, consider an ornament or bonnet kit from Pink Hollybush. I designed them specifically for beginners!
For inspiration, I love looking at magazines. We have had many wonderful smocking magazines over the years, but sadly many are now out of print.
Creative Needle, Sew Beautiful, and Australian Smocking are no longer published. You can however still find old copies. Check out ebay, facebook destash sites, and used book sales. Some of the styles may be dated, but the smocking designs are timeless! Thankfully we still have two in print magazines that carry smocked designs!
I hope this list of smocking resources encourages you to get started on your next smocking project. For more information on getting started smocking check out my series, Smocking: The Basics! Happy Smocking!