This is the first of a four part series.
I made my grandaughter Maisie, a smocked Easter dress.
I used Chery Williams "Basic Square Yoke Dress" pattern.
The pattern comes on a huge sheet of paper, and is printed on both sides of the paper.
I use freezer paper to trace the patterns and cut them out. I don't use the waxy side, but the paper is big enough to trace the large pieces.
I always trace the patterns with pencil, making sure to write the size, how many pieces to be cut and where the grain of the fabric is.
In order to do the English Smocking, the fabric has to be pleated on a special pleater. You determine how many rows of smocking the dress will have according to the size of the dress, and add an extra row on top and bottom. Carefully roll the fabric onto a dowel that can pass through the holes of the pleater.
When pleating fabric in preparation for smocking, it is extremely important to use quilting thread. Regular thread would be weak and break and it takes way too much time and effort for that to happen! Use strong quilting thread. My husband made me this board that holds the pleater with velcro and has posts to hold the spools of thread. Some have broken during our many moves but there are still enough to make it work. I am smocking 8 rows, so I need 10 rows of pleats.
The needles for the pleater fit under the rods, and they are squiggly in shape.
When you run the fabric through the pleater, make sure the top of the fabric is even with the notches above the notch of the top needle. This notch is used as a guide while gently running the fabric through the pleater. It is very important to be gentle so that a pleater needle doesn't break. If it does, you have to take everything apart and start over. It is painstaking just to thread all of those needles!!!
The fabric pulls out straight at the beginning.
The more the fabric is pulled through the pleater, the more it pleats up.
I finished pleating the front of the dress. It is quite a painstaking task but luckily it pleated on the grain and none of the needles broke.
Tomorrow I will show you how I smock the pleats.