How to Block & Cut Smocking


To construct a smocked from the shoulder dress or a square yoke dress where the smocking extends to the armhole, it is necessary to cut the smocking. Blocking prior to cutting with freezer paper helps to set the pleats and ensure that everything is nicely lined up. Below is a video showing how I did this for the from the shoulder smocked dress pictured here, but the steps are also written out for you.

Blocking a Square Yoke or From the Shoulder Smocked Dress helps to set the pleats, establish the centerline and enable the smocked piece to be accurately cut.



1. Use the Yoke Piece of the Pattern to Draw a Full Pattern Piece.

Full yoke pattern piece drawn on freezer paper.

Draw the full pattern piece on freezer paper. Mark the center line and the seam allowances of the edges that will be cut. I have marked the arm hole, neckline and shoulder seam allowances. (I remembered to draw in the shoulder seam allowance after I took the photo.)

Block the Piece to the Correct Width with the Center of the Smocked Piece Matching the Center of the Pattern.

It isn't unusual for the center of the smocked piece to no longer be in the center after the smocking is complete. To block the piece to the correct width and to get the center back to the center, remove the lower pleating threads, but not the top pleating thread, and if possible, not the top two! Pin the piece to the correct width and then using your nails and hands, shift the pleats toward the middle and the center valley to line up with the center mark on the pattern.

Steam the Pleats to set the Smocking.

Steam the Smocking with an iron to set the pleats.

Give the pleats a good steaming with an iron and then let the smocking dry. The iron isn't touching the smocking and I have used glass head pins so they do not melt.

Cut the Seam Allowances off of the Freezer Paper Pattern.

Cutting the Seam Allowances off of the Pattern.

Cut off all the seam allowances where the smocking is going to be trimmed. For a from the shoulder dress, I am cutting the seam allowances off of the armhole, the neckline and the shoulder. For a square yoke dress, only the armhole curve would be trimmed.

Secure the Freezer Paper Pattern to the Smocking.


Adhering the freezer paper pattern to the smocking.

Using a dry iron, adhere the freezer paper pattern to the smocking again lining up the center mark with the center valley of the smocking. This time the iron is touching the freezer paper, but I am keeping some weight off of the smocking so that it isn't being crushed.

Zigzag around the pattern to secure the Smocking.

Zigzagging around the pattern to secure the smocking.

Zigzag around the pattern where the smocking is going to be trimmed using a width of 2.0 and a length of 1.8 to secure the smocking.

Using the Original Pattern Piece, Mark the Cutting Lines.
Marking the cutting lines on the smocking.

Using the original pattern piece (the one with seam allowances), and lining up the center, mark the cutting lines with a fabric marking pen.

Take a deep breath, and with a scissors, cut out the smocking on the cutting line.

The cut smocking.

Now its just a matter of following the pattern to finish the dress. Here is the finished dress!

Finished Smocked from the Shoulder Dress.

If you would rather listen and watch than read...