Gathering Threads

Smocked Laces

Posted by on Oct 27 2013, in Smocking

I’ve taken several SAGA correspondence courses, including Advanced Stitches and Exotic Smocking.  Over the summer, I decided to enroll in another course with Nancy Malitz (who taught Advanced Stitches) called “Smocked Laces and Design”.

This is an interesting course because the design elements come not from a wide range of flosses or colours but from the combination and textural elements of a monochromatic scheme.  In laysmocker’s terms, all the floss is white, the fabric is a solid colour and the stitching looks like lace.  You vary the coverage using different numbers of strands of floss, from barely there with one strand to thick and rope like with three strands.

You can see what I mean in the laces below.  In the top design, feather stitch is worked on top of two undulating rows of open herringbone; in the lower row, open scallops of chain stitch are finished with french knots and straight feather, along with raised chain in the centre of the scallops.  Neat, eh?

Here’s my first sampler for lessons 1 and 2.

Nancy’s laces are the four above; my laces are the ones all squashed down at the bottom.

I’m definitely happy I finished Advanced Stitches first, as I’m much more comfortable working the rather unusual stitches (Van Dyke, raised chain, closed and open herringbone, feather stitch variations etc).  The stitching, although not particularly deep in terms of rows covered, does take longer than you might expect because you are working over the same pleats multiple times, crossing over and lacing to create a sense of depth.

I also added some cast on stitches as well – ever since Gail Doane’s course in April, I’ve loved adding them to anything I can get my hands on and I think they are very effective as a scallop.  I’m also thinking of playing with them in my next samples but using them as petals, not scallops.

Nancy’s comments were very instructive.  My pleating is on grain, but she did comment gently that I have a very tight smocking tension and should work on it. I know I do.  I just find it difficult to smock when pleats are loose and floppy and I hate the look of skimpy pleats – you know, where the fabric is blocked so thin you can almost read a newspaper through it?   It’s good to be kept humble 🙂 and I’ve already got ideas for my final project that I think will be really effective and totally over the top in terms of heirloom technique.  Hee hee.  *evil sewer’s laugh*

Now I’ve gotten started on my second sampler, working through lessons 3 and 4.  I don’t think I’ll be done any time soon, since most of my evenings involve reading or other forms of school work but I do like having something in my hands none the less.


  • Heidi

    What beautiful work! I may seriously consider signing up for the SAGA correspondence courses. Please be sure to post any other designs that you make.

  • WOW! Great job. It looks perfect to me, but I know Nancy Malitz can find even the smallest of things to note. We all learn from feedback. All that said, I think it is wonderful!

  • Claire

    Thanks, Martha. And yes, Nancy is great that way. I don’t mind being told to do something differently by someone as nice as she is 🙂

  • Claire

    Heidi – correspondence courses really are great because you can work away at your own pace and try things that you might not otherwise do. I will definitely be posting my second sampler – it’s got some fabulous combinations on it, too.

  • Jenny Jo

    Oh, Claire, those are beautiful! I’m going to have to take that class some day. I LOVE your cast on scallops!

  • Claire

    I agree, Jenny. And a lot faster than bullions.

  • Beautiful work! I find it funny you prefer the cast on stitches to the bullions. I’m just the opposite. I’ve taken a course from Gail and will do anything to avoid the cast on flowers, I much prefer the bullions.

  • Claire

    We’ll trade off! You send me your cast on stitches and I’ll ship out the bullions! 🙂