Gathering Threads

Summer fun

Posted by on May 12 2010, in Pattern review, Smocking

Here are a few snapshots of an quick little outfit for my niece that I finished last night. Stanley’s sucking it in a little, because he’s a wee bit too big for these clothes – when I see my niece next I’ll try and get some snapshots of her actually modelling her new duds.



The capris, which are a size 2 and bottom half of “Flower Power,” were an excuse to play with my new ruffler. Fun! Fun! Fun! I will be ruffling lots of things from now on, let me tell you.
The top, which I made in the 24mth size, is the top half of “Trendy Tot.” It came about because I was at loose ends Sunday night and wanted to start a quick and easy smocking project to go with the bottoms. It was simply rectangles, with an elastic casing along the back. I finished the smocking in two easy nights. No buttons, simple bias application and only one smocking stitch is used. I think it would make a great beginner project for anyone learning to smock, because there’s no piping or shaped blocking to contend with.
Both projects were very quick to work up and I found the instructions and pattern pieces generally very good. Not surprising since both of these projects are Country Bumpkin patterns, and they do very good work. I found them in their 2008 book, “Designer Smocking for Tots to Teens”. I really like the designs in this book – they’re very RTW and they do a nice job of incorporating smocking into outfits other than the classic yoke dress.

I do have a few points on my wish list – more clothing for boys, more patterns for fall and winter, I wish there was an envelope for the pattern supplement because once they’re pulled from the book, they’re completely loose with nowhere to store them and finally, I really wish the smocking and construction and cutting directions were together, rather than forcing me to flip back and forth between the construction and smocking sections, when I need to look at a detail or check on the blocking size. It just gets annoying after a while, when you want to sew or cut something and have to search through the whole book to find the width of the bias strip because you’re not sure where they’ve stuck it.

I also made life a little more difficult for myself because the top was originally designed in denim – I made my top in a very light embroidered batiste. This meant that the pleats were much lighter and far less full than the blocking accounted for. Given how simple and small the smocking actually was – just rows of Van Dyke worked in an overdyed variegated floss – I worked around it no problem but if I were making it again, I’d probably bulk up the pleats with a fusible interfacing, just to give the pleats a little more substance.



  • Shirley C

    Darling outfit! That is a sweet pattern. Rufflers are so much faster than gathering on the machine. I guess it just depends on the look that you want.

  • Love it! Great for beginners!

  • This is so beautiful, Claire! I pleated a piece of white batiste a few days ago for a skirt that ended up too short. I don’t know what I was thinking but I bet I could salvage it and make a cute halter top like yours! Thanks for the inspiration!