About this time last year, I decided that I wanted to make a really sweet, timeless, Easter dress for Miss G. I searched and searched through pictures online, patterns I owned, patterns I didn’t own, and even old family photos.
I finally decided that some of my favorites were smocked dresses, so I was going to learn to smock. I read every tutorial I could find online, watched YouTube videos galore, and finally got to work pleating a test piece of fabric and smocking it.
It wasn’t nearly as hard as I’d anticipated! I went slowly, followed the directions I found online, and was able to complete a small sample in no time.
I asked around and finally found a pattern for a smocked dress that I thought I could handle… ‘Springtime Jubilee‘ by My Treasured Heirlooms.
So I jumped in with both feet and made this adorable little dress for Miss G to wear for Easter! (Except I forgot to take pictures of it before she put it on, and this was the best I could do with a moving 2 year old.)
Yup. Just one cruddy cell phone picture. Oh well!
Fast forward to mid-January this year… I saw an open test call for a PDF smocking pattern- and I JUMPED on it! I’d been begging some of my favorite PDF designers to do smocking patterns since last year, and finally someone had done it!
Brooklyn- one of the pattern designers behind Create Kids Couture– did an amazing job with this pattern test. She did it right too, since so many of us had never smocked before or had only done it once or twice, and spread it out. We took a solid six weeks, broke it down step by step, and finally turned out an incredible finished product…
Introducing Sue Ellen!!
Sue Ellen is a classic smocked yoke bishop-style dress that includes an original smocking plate, designed by Brooklyn with the beginner in mind.
Even the testers who had never smocked before and were doubtful of their abilities turned out to love smocking- and now we’re all addicted!
I tested the size 14 for Miss A, and began to wonder about halfway through if all of that work was going to be for naught, because I really couldn’t picture my middle-schooler wearing a smocked dress.
Oh how wrong I was! We styled it up with some cowboy boots and flowers in her hair. Now she can’t wait for the weather to get warmer so she can actually wear it to school!
And can you even believe that only three simple smocking stitches create this entire amazing work of art?!
Once I finished Miss A’s dress and was seriously hooked, I decided to create one for Miss G as well.
Wanting a bit more of a ‘little girl’ feel to this dress, I used a partially sheer woven ribbon and inserted it just above the hem line of the dress. This is quite simple to do, but I do have a short tutorial on how to do it written up. It is slated to be published early next week.
In addition to adding the inset ribbon, I modified the smocking plate included with the pattern. I have wanted to try picture smocking for a while now, but never had the nerve! I finally decided that these tiny little flowers (each one with a teeny seed bead stitched in the center!) were the perfect start to picture smocking. The flowers also have lazy daisy leaves on each side.
To keep it simple, I only did the flowers and 3-step trellis border on the front and back of the dress, not on the sleeves.
Here is the smocking plate I designed for Miss G, and you are welcome to download it for free! This one goes with the size 3T of Sue Ellen, but could be adjusted a bit to fit each size of the pattern easily.
Simply click on the plate below, and it will open in a new window where you can save it to your computer.
That is just one more great thing about this pattern- the classic bishop style means that you can sub in just about any bishop smocking plate you can find! The options are endless!
Not only does CKC’s Sue Ellen pattern make smocking easy, it also details heirloom finishing techniques like French seams, a true placket, a bias-bound neckline, and a thread loop for the button closure.
I’m not gonna lie- this technique takes TIME and PATIENCE!!! The size 14 took me over 40 hours of hand work between the pleating and smocking, but the size 3 took me less than 10 hours and the hand sewing part was done!
Don’t be intimidated though! These techniques are all simple to do if you can follow instructions one step at a time. Brooklyn has even embedded videos directly in the pattern to help you through any tricky steps! You can chill on the couch after the kids go to bed, binge watch the next season of OITNB and it’ll be done before you know it.
Now that this test is over and the pattern is released, you can bet I’ll be stalking Brooklyn to do more smocked PDF patterns for CKC!!
Head over to the Create Kids Couture website to find Sue Ellen on sale for 30% off (no coupon code needed), available in sizes newborn through 14 all in one pattern!
Happy Smocking from me, Miss A, and Miss G!