A couple of years ago a parcel arrived from a very, very dear American friend. Inside, wrapped in tissue paper and tied with a ribbon, was the most amazing smocked dress in green and violet that she had made for my 2 year old daughter. The pattern she had used was Vogue 7435.
It was without a doubt the nicest present anyone has ever given my daughter and it is difficult to describe the feeling of receiving something for your child that someone has spent such a lot of time and care making. And it was this dress that got me thinking that perhaps I too could sew things and started me off looking through sewing blogs and daring to pick up a needle and thread.
A few months ago I booked myself into a one day smocking course. I’ve always wanted to learn to smock but was daunted by how difficult it looked. Then a couple of days before the course should have take place, it was cancelled due to a lack of participants. I was so disappointed that I decided I’d teach myself. Luckily there are some good tutorials on the internet, and especially this one.
Then I looked around for a perfect dress pattern and realised that you can’t really beat Vogue 7435, so I bought it, turned it over and saw the words ‘ADVANCED/PLUS DIFFICILE’….. I have to admit that it was at this stage that the doubt set in. The pattern and I eyed each other up for about 6 weeks until I decided that it was time to stop being a wimp and give it a try.
I chose a very cute quilting cotton (Lakehouse Dry Goods Pretty Posies Robin) for the dress. It would have helped if I’d read the pattern correctly and bought enough. I started cutting out the pattern only to find that I need a whole lot more to accomodate the width of the skirt panels. I went back to the fabric shop only to find they’d sold out and then had a very stressful time until I found the only place in the world that seemed to still stock it (in America). At this point it was less than four weeks until the dress had to be ready for a christening we were going to.
However finally it all came together. I decided to assemble all the ‘easy’ (as in slightly less difficult) parts of the dress first and leave the smocked panel until last. The worst part of the whole process was gathering up millions (or so it seemed) of blue dots to gather the material for smocking. Very, very, very dull indeed. After that the smocking was really fun to do. So much so, that I’m now trying to think of how I can smock everything! It is extremely sastisfying work and surprisingly fast.
And, best of all, when I’d finished the dress and tried it on my daughter, she loved it because of course a smocked dress has a very full skirt, and a very full skirt has an awful lot of twirl…..