Gathering Threads

Free Smocking Plate: Pirate Adventures

Posted by on May 06 2012, in Smocking, Smocking Plates

Poor boys.  They never get their fair share of the creativity, do they?  Girls get the dresses and the ribbons and all the pretties.  Boys end up with the snips and snails.

But since it’s been ages since I posted a freebie here on the blog, I thought folks with little boys would enjoy this pirate plate.  It’s picture smocked, with embroidered details like a skull and crossbones, an ‘x’ to mark the spot and some lovely bunches of coconuts 🙂  You can download the smocking plate by clicking here.  It prints to an 8 1/2 x 14″ sheet.


Pleat 14 rows (12+2).  This design is worked over 170 pleats.  Count and tie off the pleats and mark the centre valley before starting the smocking.

1.  Backsmock rows 2-9 and 11, plus both holding rows with two strands floss.

2.  Beginning with a under cable, work a row of cable stitch across row 1 using three strands of floss.   Repeat an identical row of cables across row 10.  Work a mirror image row of cables across row 12.

3.  To make the waves, come up at pleat 4 a needle width above row 1, and work a three stitch combination (under, over, under) across the row, leaving two pleats between each combination.  Repeat on rows 10 and 12, referring to the plate for the starting placement on each row.

4.  Follow the chart for the picture smocked elements.  All of the picture smocking uses 5 strands of floss.  The hull of the pirate ship begins 27 pleats to the left of the centre valley using 869.  Horizontal colour changes like the portholes and the skull can be worked in either a multi-needle technique or a block technique, depending on your preference.

5.  To stitch the large sail, work down from row 2 1/4 to 3 3/4 in White.   When you reach the cross bone details, be alert for the single stitch details and half stitches that form the skull. The arms of the cross bones and the skull’s face will be embroidered after the smocking is complete.  Once you have completed the skull, complete the rest of the large sail in white and then stitch the small front sail.

6.  The island on the right side begins 11 pleats to the left of the ship.  The island on the left side begins 13 pleats from the left edge.  Work the sandy bases first using five strands of 822.  Then refer to the chart to work the palm fronds in 704 and 905.

7.  The mast is worked in satin stitch over two pleats using three strands of 422.

8.  Work a 30-35 wrap bullion for the prow of the ship, using two strands of 869.  If necessary, tack the bullion to prevent it from moving with one strand of matching floss.

9.  The skull’s face is made up of two french knots and a single detached chain for the nose, all using two strands of floss.  The arms of the crossbones are stem stitch in 310.

10.  The coconuts are three 8 wrap bullions in 869.  Work the centre bullion first and then the two bullions on either side.

11.  The trunks of the palm trees are worked in chain stitch with two strands of 869 and 1 strand of 422, blended.

12.  The ‘X’ in the bottom border is worked between rows 10 1/2 and 11 1/2 using three strands of 817.  Beginning 18 pleats from the right edge on row 10 1/2, work an over, six trellis stitches and an under.    Return to the 18th pleat and beginning on row 11 1/2, work an under cable, six trellises up and a down cable to complete the figure.

13.  Work a row of undulating running stitches between rows 10 1/2 and 11 1/2.  Each stitch should cover one pleat

14.  Remove gathering threads.  Block and insert completed piece into your garment according to pattern directions.

As always, you are welcome to share this design with friends but please credit my website and do not repost it or use it for commercial purposes.  Enjoy!


  • Jenny Jo

    Wow! I love it, especially the ‘x’ marking the spot! Thank-you, Claire!

  • Claire

    You’re welcome!

  • Wonderful smocking plate. I’m in awe of your creativity. It’s a shame I have no boys to sew for. I’d love to use this one. 🙂

  • Claire

    I had fun designing it.

  • Cutest thing EVER Claire!! Thank you so much!! What a lot of work this must have been!

  • I love this!! You are *sew* talented!!

  • Claire

    Thanks, Connie. I enjoy trying out new ways of being creative and I’m just happy when people enjoy the results :).