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  1. Hi again,
    I wasn’t sure where to comment/reply so am trying this.
    You mentioned using invisible thread. You had Gutterman. I don’t recall what brand I had but hated it. I found it itched – or scratched, especially on the neck. I got angry and threw it out. Perhaps it was my technique? or the thread brand?

    Also, you wondered if anyone knew about smocking. I learned it when I was a girl – long ago. First off, you need some patience – the more, the better.. You need to be able to make same size and tension hand stitches. If you have, and take the time, the results can be fabulous. IMPO, it’s not something to rush.

    Part the trick is to get it consistent. If you can find one, and if it will fit your machine, Singer used to make a tuck attachment. The foot has a little gizmo that shoves the fabric back and under, making a little tuck each time the needle goes up and down. These directions are for standard straight machine baste and hand embroidery.

    You need to do many rows of machine basting, making sure your tension is loose enough for the bobbin thread to slide. You can do it by hand but you need to be able to make many equal length stitches. You do rows and rows of stitching. Use a new needle so you don’t tear holes in the fabric. For learning, a good quality quilting cotton would be a good choice – light enough to move gathers easily and evenly and stable enough to work with.

    Depending on the design, the rows would be spaced perhaps ½” apart – presser foot distance if it makes it easier. For learning, you should probably mark at least some of the rows. After you’ve basted, carefully gather – again very evenly. There isn’t any specific spacing other than what you choose. You can start with longest machine stitch and gather every one. However, where it gets tricky is you need to be sure each row is identical to the next one. Looking at it where the gathers will be vertical, each row’s needle hole needs to line up with the one above and below it. Like this:
    Correct: . . . . . . . .
    . . . . . . . .
    . . . . . . . .
    Not correct: . . . . . . . . . .
    . . . . . . . . . . .
    . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Get it?

    After you get all your gathers/tucks/folds the way you want them, then you hand stitch with embroidery thread. Align the tuck/gathers to run vertically, making them as even as you are able. When you stitch, you take up the top bit of these tucks, catching about 1.5 mm of fabric. Your stitches sit on top. The more fabric you take up, the more thread you need to allow or the fabric will gather too. You don’t want the fabric itself to gather up. Just stitch along the top of it. Move on to the next, allowing appropriate amount of thread (the distance between the tucks). Don’t over-tighten. It has a tendency to shrink up a bit – the same as hand embroidery does. You can use a variety of stitches but for learning, start with the basics: back stitch, stem stitch or outline stitch. When you get the hang of it you can try cross stitch, herringbone, chain and other stitches. There’s really no limit to it.

    One note – if you are planning to use it in a garment, I’d suggest you either be certain of how much fabric will be taken up by the gathers and hand stitching, or do the smocking before you cut the garment out. If, say, you want to use a section on the back of a dress or top’s waistline, be sure there is enough fabric to span the back waist after the smocking is finished, OR do the smocking, then cut the garment. You can always take seams in, but you can’t always let them out.

    If you like to learn in a functional way, start with a piece you can make into a make-up bag or something small.

    Happy smocking, Sewing Canary.
    p.s. I hope my dots arrive the way I saw them on the screen – one above the other.

    1. Hello, & thanks for your extra long comment & advice regarding smocking.
      Re. the invisible thread – I cant comment on other brands since Gutterman is all Ive ever used & so far Ive not had any problems. I can see why invisible thread would irritate. To avoid this problem I thread invisible thread the same way as I do my loose wool ends while knitting. I leave a long tail end & weave it back under a hem or seam so it does not poke out. It must be a technique that works because Ive never had pokey or scratchy bits – try that & see if it works for you.

      Re. the smocking – well, its something that Ive always wanted to try but I doubt I have the patience. I remember (& still have) all my baby dresses that were so beautifully smocked on the bodice – intricate detail & so perfectly done. Some even adorned with little embroidered flowers…something we unfortunately dont find today in the baby wear department.

      A few years back I had started researching smocking a little & came across similar advice regarding doing the needleworks first & then cutting – absolutely makes sense.

      Thank you for your input – I hope to one day at least give it a go however with the “queue” of sewing & knits….hmmmm i wonder 🙂
      Take care,

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