Gathering Threads

Tutorial: Designing Geometric Smocking Plates in Illustrator Pt 2

Posted by on Jul 16 2011, in Smocking, Tutorial

This is part 2 of 3 of how to use Adobe Illustrator to create smocking plates. You’ll find the first part of this tutorial on designing geometric smocking plates here.

24.  Select the “4 Step Full Space Trellis” from the symbols and place it in the middle of the graph between rows 4-5.

25.  Switch to Outline  mode (Ctrl+Y) and zoom in (Hotkey: Z) to approximately 800%.   Using the Selection tool (Hotkey: V), align the bottom of the under cables with row 5.

26.  Using the Direct Selection arrow (Hotkey: A), draw a bounding box over the trellis elements only.

27.  With the trellis stitches still highlighted, switch to the Selection tool (Hotkey: V) and shrink the stitches so that the upper stitch just touches row 4.

28.  Select the over cable (Hotkey: V).  To duplicate the distance you shrunk the trellis stitches, Ctrl+D to duplicate the last action.  The over cable will now sit directly above the trellis stitches.

29.  Select the entire re-sized trellis symbol (Hotkey: V).  Group them together (Ctrl+G.) so that they can be treated as a single element as you duplicate them.

30.  With the resized trellis still highlighted, set the Keyboard increment (Ctrl+K) to 20mm.

31. Holding down the Alt key, tap the left and right arrows to complete the row of 4-step trellis.  Again, ignore any stitches that extend past the pleats as they will be cleaned up later.

32.  Select the row of 4-step trellis using the Selection tool (Hotkey: V).

33.  Right click and select Transform>Reflect.  Make the axis of reflection horizontal and click ‘Copy’.   The reflected row will be highlighted and directly on top of the original row.

34. With the reflected row still highlighted, change the keyboard increment (Ctrl+K) to 18mm.

35.  Tap the down arrow once to move the mirror image row between rows 5 and 6.

36.  Highlight both rows of trellis stitch (Hotkey: V).  In the symbols window, click on “Break Link to Symbols”.

37.  Open Layers (F7).  Create a new layer between “Row” and “Cables”.  Call the new layer “Crossover”.  Lock the cable row by clicking in small grey box beside the eye symbol.

38.  Making sure the crossover layer is unlocked and highlighted, build a new 4-step trellis.  Tip:  This time you will be using individual components to make a new smocking symbol, rather than using an existing symbol.  This process is how all new stitches are built., which allows you to create your own personalized patterns and add to your symbols library. Start by selecting “Single Cable Under” from the symbols library and dragging it into the workspace.  It should sit just above row 3 and be centred between the peaks of the 4-step trellis diamond.

39.  Switch to Outline Mode (Ctrl+Y) and Zoom in (Hotkey: Z).  Align the Over Cable.  Return to Preview Mode (Ctrl+Y) and zoom out (Alt+Z)

40.  Select a “Single Cable Under” and following the same process as for the over cable, place and align it just above row 5 in the middle of the diamond.

41.  Select a “Single Trellis” from the symbols library and place it on the work surface, directly below the row 3 over cable.

42.  In Outline mode, align the trellis stitch by zooming in and adjusting its placement with the Selection tool (Hotkey: V).

43.  Now stretch the trellis stitch by right clicking Transform>Scale>Non-Uniform 225% Vertical.

Tip:  It may take several attempts until you are satisfied with how a new symbol looks as you manipulate the different elements.  I like to make notes as I work on new stitches, so I can remember details like scale and stroke choices of my various try-outs  Don’t be afraid to make multiple versions so that you can try out different options and relative spacings.

44.  Now the outline on the trellis is too thick.  Change the thickness of the stroke by opening the Stroke Window (Ctrl+F10).  Change its weight to 0.4mm.

45.  Change the keyboard increment (Ctrl+K) to 2mm.

46.  Hold down the Alt Key and tap the right arrow 3 times.

47.  Hold down the shift key and drag the last trellis stitch down to row 5 using the selection tool (Hotkey: V).  The bottom of the trellis stitch should touch the top of the under cable.

48.  Using the selection tool (Hotkey: V), highlight all four trellis stitches.

49.  Open the “Align” Window (Shift+F7) and choose “Vertical Distribute Centre”.  Tip:  I love the align window.  You can align left, right, centre, side to side and more – it makes getting things even and nicely spaced really easy.  Take the time to play with it, so you can use it effectively.

50.  Poof!  Magically spaced trellis stitches!

51.  Keeping the newly distributed stitches highlighted, right click>Transform>Reflect.  Choose ‘vertical’ for the axis of reflection, then copy.

52.  Tap the left arrow until the reflected stitches meet in a point.

53.  Using the Selection Tool (Hotkey: V), highlight the entire 2-row trellis.  Group the stitch (Ctrl+G) into a single unit.

Tip:  Want to save your newly created stitch?  Think you’ll use it again?  Save it to the symbol library.  Simply drag the completed, highlighted motif into your symbols window.  You will be able to name the stitch, move it around within the symbols library and use it in other designs without needing to start from scratch.

54.  Change the keyboard increment (Ctrl+K)  to 20mm.

55.  Holding down the Alt key, tap the right and left arrow keys to complete the row.

56.  Change the keyboard increment (Ctrl+K) to 34mm.

57.  With the 2-row trellis highlighted, right click Transform>Reflect.  The axis of reflection should be horizontal.  Click ‘copy’.

58.  Tap the down arrow once to move the mirror image row into place.

59.  Save your work.

This concludes the second part of the tutorial.  The third portion shows you how to add the finishing touches, like colour, make new colour swatches and get your design print ready.


  • KathyD

    Thanks for another great tutorial!

  • Laurie

    Can I still access this tutorial’s part one [or the beginning?]