Gathering Threads

Free Vintage Smocking Plate

Posted by on Jun 09 2010, in Smocking Plates

I have a hodge-podge collection of vintage smocking booklets, picked up from Ebay, yardsales and friendly donations (the classic “You smock?! Here, take these!” followed by a thrusting armful of paper). Many of the designs are very basic – a few rows of cable and wave stitch in a couple of simple colours that were meant to be quick, not elaborate, wearable details.


But they do have their appeal. Besides some cute illustrations and creative colour combinations (brown, orange and gold on aqua, anyone?), they do have some charming vintage patterns and I have plans to post some of the early patterns here on the site, translating the terse written instructions of the period into our more familiar chart form.

The first of these is a lovely little design that is worked over 11 rows. It comes from an undated Australian booklet from the early 1930s. Click Here for a PDF version you can save to your computer. Of course, it is easy to see it divided into even smaller bands on a coordinating sleeve. I can see this working equally well on a bishop or a square yoke dress.


Row 1: Beginning with an *over cable, work 11 cable stitches, a four-step trellis down to row 3, under cable, four-step trellis back to row 1, over cable, four-step trellis down to row 3, under cable, four step trellis to row 1*. Repeat from ** across row.

Row 3: Mirror image of row 1.

Row 2: After the diamonds and blocks are completed, work a pattern of 9 cable stitches, starting with an under cable, and three french knots in a contrasting colour through the centre of the band.

Row 4-6: Work in the same manner as Rows 1-3 except that the blocks and diamonds now alternate from the band above.

Row 7-9: Work identically to row 1-3.

Row 9-11. Work a four-step trellis down to row 11, under cable, four-step trellis back to row 9 between each of the outer points of the diamonds on the last row. Tie off between each point.

The booklets rarely give floss colours, so I’ve followed their lead and made my plate black and white, the better to free your imagination.

You are free to share the link to this plate with smocking friends and use it for personal or charity sewing. Please credit my website and don’t repost or resell the chart on your own site.