Week 6. /Smocking and Shirring

Securing finely pleated or folded fabric with a decorative stitch

“Smocking was prominent in the 18th and 19th centuries because of its ability to stretch. Prior to the advent of elastic, this was the only way to secure large amounts of fabric while still allowing for movement for the body.”

Direct Smocking

Material needed:
– Smocking pattern paper
– Fabric
– Needles
– Scissors
– Thread

– Select a grid pattern
– Mark the dotted pattern on the back side of the fabric (Try not to use permanent ink pen)
– Following the stitching path shown in the pattern, draw the needle and thread through.
– Stitch the points together and secure them with a small stitch.
– Cut the thread and continue until the pattern is complete

Reference: http://kaliwan.tistory.com/entry/How-to-do-Canadian-Smocking 

Process photos

Challenges, learning points and application

 In modern days, smocking has become a decorative statement rather than a functional one. Indeed, I also find smocking a technique which produces very stunningly beautiful result if you do it well. One challenge for me is to sew at the right spot, as I sew more and more and the fabric becomes more crumpled, it is quite difficult for me to determine where to sew and often I end up with a messy pattern. I guess with more practices, I should become more meticulous and precise in sewing in order not to end up with disastrous work.

Final outcome


Creating fabric that is contracted into a smaller size when gathered along multiple rows of stitching 

“Shirring was first developed to gather large pieces of fabric to fit snuggly against the body. It is especially useful around necklines and cuffs because it stretched over the body and then fits snuggly against it with sliding or pulling.” 

Basic/Elastic Shirring

Materials needed:
– Fabric 
– Elastic Thread
– Sewing Machine
– Elastic Bands

– Determine how long you want the final piece to be and add seam allowances to all edges if possible.
– Plan a pattern of lines (or you can skip this step)
– Stitch along the lines with the sewing machine and elastic thread, straight stitches or zigzag stitch
– When done, hold the threads on one end of the fabric, using the other hand, draw the fabric towards the secure threads.
(For elastic shirring, insert the elastic band between 2 pieces of fabric before stitching)

Process photos

Challenges, learning points and application

Shirring is one of the easiest and least time-consuming technique so far. Just like smocking, shirring also produces beautiful results. If there has to be one thing hard about this technique, I would say that is to determine the amount of fabric needed in the first place such that when the fabric is shirred, it does not become too small in size.

Final outcome

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