Sunday, August 12, 2012

Smocked dress ... again.

I got my sewing room back for two whole days!

My plan was to make something different, as in try out a new pattern, but I got a request for another smocked dress.
No matter what new style or pattern I show my daughter, she always comes back to a basic yoke style smocked dress just like the ones I  made for her and her sister when they were little.

Well, if I can't change the style, as least I can change the construction method. Over the years I've used several different methods and the following is the latest. I'm documenting them here so I don't forget.

Here goes.
Referring to the pattern pieces in AS&E issue 58 (Giggles) or issue 57 ( Rosebud) for a basic yoke style dress cut fabric and pleat 11 or 12 rows.

When smocking is complete prepare for construction by making piping for the sleeve band, front panel, collar and back bodice sections. Although the latter is just an option.

Assemble the collar; fuse interfacing, attach piping and trim seam allowances, turn, press use spray starch for crisp finish.

For the front smocked  panel, hand baste the piping and then stitch in place using a cat claw or similar tool to straighten the pleats while sewing.

Next, stitch the 2 front yoke and 2 back bodice pieces together at the shoulders. All the pieces will form a circle.
Fuse interfacing along the fold edge of the bodice pieces.

Mark 3/8 from neck edge on front yoke piece, assuming you are using a 3/8 seam allowance throughout.

Then line up the fabric part of the collar pieces so that they are just slightly above the mark. The piping will overlap beyond.  Tack in place.

Pin the collar pieces to the front yoke and two side of the back bodice pieces.

Note: this may not be the correct way to attach a Peter Pan collar but it works for me.

When it's pinned in place, baste all around.

Next, sandwich the collar by folding over (right sides together) the yoke facing and the 2 back bodice sides.
Stitch all around with a 3/8 seam allowance but at the marked centre, stitch just a little more than 3/8th.
Turn right side out, press, trim away excess seam allowance and then stitch the seam allowance to the yoke facing close to the collar edge.

The collar should sit so that the piping on each piece is touching each other and there is no gap. 
Maybe there is supposed to be a gap?
Well, I'm not keen on gaps.

Then put in the placket on the back skirt.

Stitch a V the length of the placket on skirt back. Slit and pull open and pin placket in place then stitch.
Press under raw edge of placket, fold over to stitching line and hand stitch in place.
Fold placket together, turning inside the right side of the placket baste in place. This side fits into the back bodice section that will have the buttonholes.

Gather back skirt and attach to the bodice back leaving facings free.

Attach front panel to yoke front leaving facing free.

Pin ties to side of dress where bodice back meets skirt then baste in place.

Sew side seams. (serge or french seams)
Insert sleeves.
Turn inside out and hand stitch facings in place.

For tucked hem, begin by turning up skirt bottom edge and press.

Then turn up again the same amount and pin in place. Basically, fold hem up twice.

Then stitch about 1 inch in from the folded edge.  This catches the raw edge that was in the first fold and tucks it neatly inside the second fold.

Makes for a neat hem with a decorative fold that can be lengthened and also dispenses with hand stitching a hem which is real reason I use this method.

Last step is buttons holes and buttons on the bodice back. Buttonholes on right side, buttons on left.

Smocking design plate I used was from AS&E issue 58, Giggles.


A vintage style smocked dress just like Grandma used to make.
Wait a minute. I am the Grandma!
Notes to self:
Size 3.
Armbands were cut 1" wider than pattern piece indicated.  Cut them 1/2 wider next time.
Sleeve cap was trimmed from pattern piece to reduce fullness. Worked out well.
Make smaller collar next time.
4 inch hem X 2 made perfect hem length.

2 meters of flowery fabric from the stash busted!


  1. The dress is just beautiful! I'm so glad that your daughter loves the style. Your granddaughter is gorgeous!

  2. I LOVE it! Not having made a square yoke dress yet, I was wondering if you'd share exactly what made this construction method different from usual?

  3. Karen: Thanks for the kid compliment.

    Jenny Jo: I've sent you an e-mail thru Flickr.

  4. Love the "wait, I'm the grandma"! I can see why your daughter keeps coming back to this style's a classic!

  5. AS&E patterns are my fave! And this is a great tutorial. Sweet print on the dress and great job on the smocking.

  6. This is adorable...I have never, ever did smocking.

  7. I have done the smocking, but I don't have a pattern to allow me to make a dress...