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Smocking Tutorial: The Cable Stitch

Finished Cable Stitch

I thought it would be helpful if over the next few weeks I did a series of tutorials that showed step by step how to smock each stitch. This puts everything right here in one place. Of course, we have to begin at the beginning and that means the Cable Stitch!

In Smocking, the Cable Stitch is a row of stitches formed by alternately placing the thread above the needle (up) and below the needle (down) for each successive stitch. The needle is held horizontally to the fabric and is stitched at 1/3 the depth of the pleat. The resulting row of stitches will have little or no fabric showing through the stitches.

See all of our smocking stitch tutorials in our Smocking Stitches Guide. For more smocking help and sewing news, sign up for our newsletter, receive the Free Daisy Smocking Plate and a 15% off coupon to the shop.

Prepare the Floss.

The first step is to prepare the floss. Cut an 18" piece of floss and separate the floss into the individual strands. For most smocking 3 strands are used.

Stripped Floss

Place the 3 individual strands back together, insert the three strands of floss in the needle – I usually use a number 7 Darner – and smooth the floss. I do this by using a piece of felt that I wet with water and wring out, and slide across the floss. It straightens out the floss so I get a nice smooth stitch. Knot your thread.

Smoothed Floss

Get into Position to Begin Stitching.

The cable stitch is worked from the left to the right if you are right handed and from the right to the left if you are left-handed. To begin stitching come up in the valley between 2 pleats, just below or above the pleating thread. This hides the knot.

How to start the cable stitch

To get in the correct position for the first stitch, insert the needle through the first pleat, from right to left if you are right-handed, and from the left to the right if you are left handed– I am stitching just below the pleating thread. Now my needle is at the correct depth to take my first stitch.

Getting into correct starting position for the cable stitch

Work an Up Cable.

To work an Up Cable: keeping the needle horizontal, and the working thread above the needle, stitch through the second pleat, again just below that pleating thread and gently pull the thread taught.

Up Cable Stitch

Work a Down Cable.

Again keeping the needle horizontal, with the working thread below the needle this time, take a stitch through the next pleat. Continue across the row, alternating between up and down cables. If you run out of thread, take the needle to the back of your fabric, by going down into the valley, and tie off on the back. Come back up in the same valley and continue across the row.

Down Cable Stitch

Here are the finished Cable Stitches! I hope you give smocking a try and don't forget to sign up for our Newsletter if you haven't and receive the Daisy Smocking plate as my thank you gift to you!

Finished Cable Stitches


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