The Craft of Smocking
In some families, the art of smocking is handed down from generation to generation like a fine recipe. The gathering of fabric, the carefully placed stitches that pull the pleats together, the embroidery stitches that both stabilize and adorn the fabric pleats must all be completed by hand.
In our automated world, smocking by machine is faster, less expensive, and widely used. But at Strasburg Children, we’ve made the choice to step back and include a few details in our designs that still take a set of hardworking hands to craft. When creating a Margaret or Ava dress, the foundation comes together with a sewing machine and a talented seamstress. To finish the design, our garment manufacturer turns to a group of artisans who create handcrafted smocking panels. Beginning with a piece of fabric three times as wide as the finished dimension, the fabric is gathered into pleats with a loose stitch across the width. Row after row of stitching is used, working down the fabric, until the length of the pleat is reached. Stitches are carefully matched to the row above, assuring a clean pleat. By pulling gently on the thread ends, the fabric comes together in pleats that resemble an accordion, and are secured. Once the embroidery details are added by hand, the smocked fabric is then attached to the rest of the garment.
The smocking panel below is a new design we’re working on with embroidery stitches and pearls. The size of the small pearl helps show how tiny the pleats are…and how many pleats are needed for one dress.
To us, the choice to have our smocking created by hand is an easy one. Many hands have been involved with our beautiful dresses by the time they reach your hands. We hope you appreciate that as much as we do.