Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Smocking old and new

Have you seen this ad? (Click on the photos for enlargements.) I can't say I've ever paid much attention to the Bottega Veneta line (or, these days, to anyone's line--who has time?), but the spring/summer 2007 collection is simply stunning! I've always wanted to try smocking, but this dress takes smocking to a completely new realm. Who would have thought it could look so fresh and contemporary? Check out pages 8 and 40 of the on-line catalog, which I think are also smocked garments, as well as the amazing pleated jacket on pages 68 and 69. Shirring was also used as a detail in the collection.

You can see the full dress from the ad on pages 78 and 79. It's really quite sporty, made in what appears to be a cotton shirting fabric, but I think it would make an amazing wedding dress, too, if you were going a less traditional route.

Speaking of smocking, many people have been asking me about it lately. So I've been investigating a bit, and here's what I've found:

Membership with the Smocking Arts Guild of America will connect you with many active chapters and even with a web-based group. The SAGA website offers some basic smocking instructions, and you can also enroll in correspondence courses. Note especially the WeeCare program, through which smockers and sewers can learn to sew and smock while also donating their work to hospitals.

Sew Beautiful magazine, edited by Martha Pullen, focuses primarily on heirloom sewing, which includes beautiful traditional smocking. Many issues feature patterns and detailed instructions for children's garments. The magazine is also a good way to find resources for fabric, trim, and patterns.

And finally, Jeannie Baumeister at The Old Fashioned Baby publishes detailed patterns for children's heirloom clothing. You can also find her patterns as well as fabric and notions for making them at this site.

And now we're off to enjoy the sunshine for the afternoon. Those skiiers will have to wait another day, even though they're making me crazy!


  1. gosh that dress is divine. Thanks for all those useful links to - I must try smocking but I think I'll lower my sights from that dress.

  2. I have wanting to try smocking. I have a few of my grandmother's books (she smocked all of my dresses when I was little) but I haven't worked up the nerve to try it yet.

  3. Wow, that dress is amazing.

  4. WOW! That is BEAUTIFUL!!!!

  5. Anonymous5:49 PM

    What a beautiful dress! Makes me realise what a limited concept of smocking I have had.

  6. Anonymous6:06 PM

    glad you think that - i saw it in British Vogue and it made my dream wedding dress shortlist but i didn't know if it was wedding-y enough...

  7. wow. that is so gorgeous. i was just thinking about smocking as my new sewing machine can do it... hmmmmmm

  8. Ohhh, that dress is so gorgeous. I'm in awe.

  9. Anonymous8:48 AM

    Wow that is beautiful! Probably very comfy too :)

  10. Anonymous9:44 AM

    Smocking is alive and well in the Deep South. Every baby worth his or her Southern Heritage has a bishop dress and tons of smocked outfits. The more wealthy the family, the longer the little boys stay in john-johns with smocked inserts.

  11. Ah, smocking must be the in-thing for this Spring. I just bought a lovely aqua linen jacket by AK Anne Klein that has a smocked back. I love it! It's so fresh and youthful and makes a very beautiful texture. I've never actually tried to do smocking myself, but one of these days it may be a good detail to try. Thanks for all the links. :-)

  12. That dress is absolutely stunning. I hate I never learned to smock back when my kids were little... if I had, I'd be all over this!

  13. the smocking on that bottega dress makes me want to toss out my knitting needles and dust off my singer fashion mate.

    if anyone's interested in knit smocking, i taught myself how to do it last fall. posted a pictorial on my blog if you care to take a gander:

  14. Kate, that sweater is really lovely! Nice work.

  15. I have that ad up on my wall, I love that dress!
    as for info on smocking there is a book i really love called the art of manipulating fabric by collette wolff. It has smocking and soooo much more!

  16. Anonymous7:12 AM

    This dress is really lovely and I'm thinking of getting some inspiration from it... i found out how to make smocks here:

    maybe someone else want to try as well

    (sorry I had to split the link)

  17. Anonymous3:09 PM

    Oh my, that is a beautiful dress. My sister showed me a dress very similar to this one that she recently bought.

    So naturally I went back to the shop where she found the dress. But, just my luck, they didn't have anything in my size.

    I guess I'll just have to add smocking to my list of things to learn.


  18. Anonymous1:15 AM

    Beautiful dress. Unusual!

    Sorry to bother you but maybe someone can help me - I have a many yards of french and swiss laces I wish to sell but I can not figure out how to reach a group of heirloom sewers. I know they would know the value of these! The laces are imported by Capitol Imports.

    Can someone help me find a venue for selling these to the sewers who find them most desirable?

    Thank you!
    Lynn in Wisconsin

  19. i was looking for this dress online and found your blog. can't tell you how much i adore this dress.

  20. I love this dress...I think it's a masterpiece :)

  21. Wow.. what a gorgeous dress.. I will make it someday.. Recently I am interested in making anything combine with smock and create a blog how to make basic smock.