Last week in my haute couture embellishments class we learned hand-smocking, and oddly, it’s a skill that I took to right away. It’s not the smocking is anything to mock—it’s just not something I considered myself to have an affinity for. But as my professor, Kenneth D. King, pointed out with great practicality, I can do it on the train. I’ve found a great link on smocking, but it includes a machine pleater.
If you prefer to pleat by hand, it’s easy. Mark a dotted grid on your fabric piece to be smocked, spacing dots 1/2 – 1 inch apart. Then sew a running stitch along each horizontal line in the grid, connecting the dots. Once you’ve stitched the parallel lines, pull the threads to gather the fabric into pleats. You can anchor 2-3 threads with a figure-8 shape around a pin. You’re ready to start smocking. Learn the technique here.