Thursday, November 10, 2011

Smocked Nightgown for Ms. C.

Oct. 2011 005

My "Smock & Talk" friend & mentor, Nicole, shared her leftovers of this wonderfully soft knit with me after she had made pajamas out of it for her girls. It is extremely luscious feeling fabric & it has little Chinese girls with flowers & fans scattered all over it. Very cute...Thanks, Nicole!

I started off by using a pattern for a knit t-shirt & then both widened & lengthened it into a nightgown for Ms. C.

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Here is my Amanda Jane pleater with 9 needles in place, ready for threading. Note there are empty spaces between the needles where I could have added more for needles "half-spaces" if the smocking plate I was going to follow required them.

Pleating this fabric for smocking was a bit of a challenge due to the stretchy nature of it.

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A few tips...I always place a white card behind my pleating needles so that I can see better while threading them & I've learned from Nicole to leave a shorter tail of thread on the top of the needle, where you can SEE it as you pull the fabric off the needles. That way, you know when you've gone far enough.

Instead of me trying to explain pleating or smocking, go see what my friend, Laurie Anderson, aka "SewNso" & owner of Southern Stitches, has posted some WONDERFULLY helpful pleating & smocking videos on YouTube. Below is her "Pleating 101" tutorial.

Basically, you roll your fabric onto a dowel, making sure it is as straight as possible. Then the edge is inserted into the back of the pleater & you S-L-O-W-L-Y turn the crank handle which makes the teeth grab the fabric & send it through the grooves & out onto the threaded needle.

I ALWAYS run a small piece of waxed paper through my pleater prior to placing the needles & thread into position. That really helps the fabric go through smoothly. You do NOT want to break needles...last time I bought some, they were $1.50 EACH!!

Here is the front of the nightgown, just coming off the pleater.

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This was the first time I'd ever tried to pleat a knit & on the whole, it turned out nice. I had just one or two places where the pleats weren't exactly crisp or lined up, as they had *scooched* a bit. That's a very technical sewing term, ya' know. *scooched*

Oct. 2011 004

Because every single child sized hanger I own is now residing at Ms. C's house, I had to hang this on an adult size hanger for photographs. You can see that I didn't balance it correctly & that the right side isn't completely on the hanger. This is making the shoulder hang down & thus it looks like the smocking & piping are off. Trust me, they are straight! I used water soluble double sided tape to attach my piping prior to stitching it down. This is a great trick to keep it in place instead of pinning, which would distort the fabric.

Oct. 2011 007

I used both cranberry & pink floss in my smocking, to pick up the colors in the fabric.

Thanks for letting me share my sewing projects with you. I love to smock & would work on it every day if my wrist & arm would allow it. I fear I am developing some carpal tunnel issues along with a pinched nerve in my neck.

Typing on the computer keyboard doesn't help it either, so please forgive me if I am a long time in responding to your sweet comments? I can only be online so much & then my right hand, (my sewing hand!) goes to sleep.

I am linking to The Tablescaper's Seasonal Sunday meme.

Thanks for visiting The Gazebo House & I'll be around to visit you as soon as I can.


  1. I guess you won't be stirring all that fancy food you always create either. Bummer! Hope it heals fast!

  2. The gown is so sweet and cozy! She will love it. I understand completely about fingers and arms tingling and going to sleep. Hope your shoulder feels better soon.

  3. Lovely gown, you did a fabulous job on it. Smocking is so special, and one thing I don't do. It is always nice to see the work other's do. :)


  4. It's adorable! I understand about the hand/arm situation. I'm having problems too, but mostly at night.

    Seems I'm getting low on child size hangars also. I need to raid Shelby's closet!

  5. Beautiful job Rett. It looks awesome. Hope the hand improves, rest it as much as possible. Sewing season is here!!!

  6. Hello Rett
    What a pretty nightgown you crafted. Not being a sewer, I had no idea how smocking was done but do remember the purchased dresses for our girls when they were little.
    You are so crafty!

  7. UMMM...hope it heals so quick.
    No fun having your wrist and hand hurt..I am afraid may be getting the same problem. Sometimes, my thumb goes to sleep...really strange.

    I love's so pretty.

  8. Rett,
    I love the look of this gown. Very pretty. Pat

  9. What a beautiful smocking job you did, Rett!! Your granddaughter is one lucky little lady. Thanks for sharing your wonderful work.

  10. Hi Rett~ ~ ~
    This is one of the coolest things I have seen in some time. I remember my Mother smocking my dresses by hand when I was a kid. We actually had matching smocked dresses! Remember that? Your dress is so sweet.

    Thanks for stopping by and asking about me. I am doing very well but just not in the picture taking and blogging mood. Don't know what's changed but I really have concerning blogging. Are you still enjoying it and making it fun?
    Would love to chat with you about it. Be well.
    ~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

  11. I'm sorry to hear of your carpal tunnel issues, Rett. I sometimes have to give my hand a rest too. I even tried a different, ergonomic mouse, but to no avail. Rest, rest, rest. What a precious gift--your talent and olve for this sweet little girl. Thank you for sharing your lovely work.

  12. Rett, I hope the nerve issues heal quickly. I know how painful that can be. Limited computer time is my norm these days. I hope to more time for blogging is on the horizon. ;-)
    The smocking is darling. I've never done smocking, but have always admired it.
    Sending hugs ~ Sarah

  13. Sorry about your hand and neck. That's no fun! Thanks for sharing the sewing project. I've never seen a smocking machine before, but then I don't sew much. The nightgown is darling.

  14. Rett~ SOOOOO adorable...I'm always in awe of your stitching/quilting projects and was always curious how smocking was done! I hope your arm & wrist recover quickly~ I'm afraid I'm starting to develop blogging/typing syndrome with more time on the computer!

  15. Hi Rettabug- You have won my card giveaway. I will need your address
    to be able to send them to you.
    Thank you, Kathi

  16. Oh my, Rett~ This looks complicated but lovely!!! I never knew how smocking was achieved before seeing your "contraption." I understand your "pain" as my neck and shoulder are aggravated again- last week my slippery heeled shoes caused me to go down hard in the parking lot. I caught myself with my hand, as we all do, and it jarred my arm into my shoulder socket. Dang- the old rotator cuff injury was aggravated again! OUCH
    The neck needs some attention from the neuro guy, according to my ortho, but I don't even want to go there! LOL I just live with the stiff neck, sore shoulder, and occasional tingling. Dang- when did I start getting feeble?! ha ha ha

  17. Holy moley, that looks like surgery! You are such a smart cookie. I would never be able to figure that out!
    You did a beautiful job, C is a very lucky little girl!
    Rest your hand. You will have to get one of those talk and type things.

  18. This is the most amazing thing I have seen resist is gorgeous

  19. Lovely gown! Miss C is one very lucky little girl to have you to make beautiful creations for her! I've never smocked on knit before - Kudos for a job well done! Thank you too for mentioning me on your beautiful blog - I feel so special! :)

  20. Rett, What a SWEET gown! You are so talented ~ thank you for sharing your tips. I can imagine how challenging it was to work with that fabric ~ you did such a beautiful job. I love the print .

    I had never seen a smocking device like that (ingenious!) My only experience with smocking was by hand ~ back in the old Home Ec days . . . a million years ago.

    Have a lovely day! xoxo ~m

  21. What a sweet nightgown, Rett. Your little Miss C is the luckiest little girl!
    I hope your fingers and arm are feeling a little better. Please don't respond to this comment, as I'll be watching for your next post and I'd rather you saved yourself for that!

  22. Rett, I am so thrilled every time you share one of your masterpieces. Any little girl would feel like such a princess in this darling nightgown! What a gift of love. And we get to share it too!
    You are so very talented... in so many areas!

  23. I am in awe at how talented you are to be able to smock garments in this way.
    My mum used to smock dresses for my sister & I when we were little girls, they always made me feel special somehow!
    Thanks for stopping by earlier

  24. I love the gown and the love that has gone into creating it. My oldest sister had a smoking machine so I used to help her smock panels for her daughters dresses. I loved it when I was younger but with vision challenges I have a hard time threading needles anymore. You are so talented.

  25. Hi Rettabug, This is Kathi, reminding you of your card giveaway winnings. I will need your address to send them to you.Maybe you could go to my etsy shop

    and go to 'contact' and send it to me, I will be the only one to see it. Thanks, Kathi

  26. Hi Rettabug, This is Kathi, reminding you of your card giveaway winnings. I will need your address to send them to you.Maybe you could go to my etsy shop

    and go to 'contact' and send it to me, I will be the only one to see it. Thanks, Kathi

  27. Just beautiful! Hope you feel better soon. I just adore smocking, it gives such charm and what a beautiful nightgown.


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