Smocking How-To

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How to do Wormtongue's smocking

We have two definitions of how the smocking was done... since da editor admits that knowing very little about smocking, I'm going to list both until we get an exact.

== by Phyllis

extra notes by Ferd and Maggie

Collar of the Cloak

The big velvet collar on his cloak is back smocked in a technique variously called "Canadian", "North American" or "Lattice" smocking.  It's really more fabric manipulation than smocking - the wrong side of the fabric is marked in a grid and then pulled from the back in alternating stitches running vertically so that it gets that basket-weave look.  A perfectly square grid will give you an even lattice, and a more vertical and rectangular grid will make it look more like Wormtongue’s collar.  This is done by hand and not on a smocking pleater.   This technique sounds more complicated than it is. 

There are some instructions from the Padawan's Guild to  Star Wars Costuming web site – just scroll down the page.  However, it is not exactly like the SW smocking which almost looks more braided.

Needless to say, this technique uses up a lot of fabric and the final result is quite heavy when it’s in velvet, and it looks spectacular.

Sometimes this can be found in stores either pre-quilted or there is also there is a version of double-stretch double-weight knit that mimics the pattern.

Smocked Shirt Collar Ruff

  by Phyllis

This collar is a long rectangle, probably at least 24-26 inches x 14 inches before it was smocked.  First the top edge was finished, and then it was run through a smocking pleater.  There are about 10-12 total rows of smocking.

The first 4 rows or so are back-smocked on the wrong side of the fabric in order to keep the pleats set. The next 7-8 rows are front smocked in what appears to be Trellis stitches with connecting cable stitches.  The back smocking is the same stitch as is found on the front.  More research with the TT DVD is required.

Here is a Trellis stitch with a connecting cable stitch:


   by Ferd

It is certainly smocked in a more traditional "english" smocking in a geometric style. Usually just the skipped rows and holding rows are backsmocked not the whole piece--Back smocking does hold the pleats, but will lose the elasticity of the smocking which is very important for a neck area :) Geometrics should be worked with 3 strands of floss and the smocking is started in the center and worked to the right, then flipped and worked from the center back out to have the stitches and tension correct.

Before smocking the piece will need to be "blocked" meaning you pull the pleated fabric to the desired length you need and evenly distribute the pleats. Tie of the pleating threads on one side by double knotting the row threads each to the next. Once you have the piece to the proper length and the the pleats distributed--You will need to count the pleats and make sure you have an even number--Mark the center "valley" with a piece of floss by going up and down the row threads. If you have an odd # of pleats pull one out. Figure out how wide you need the piece and make sure you have an extra row at the top and bottom--these are backsmocked and "set" the shape. Once the piece is stretched and pleats organized, center marked. Tie off the other end. Keep the piece flat and pin it down to your ironing board. Spray it with spray starch and then steam is with your iron. Let dry. This is very important--and will set the size and pleats.

More smocking notes in our Fabric Embellishment section.

Buying suggestion for the outer collar:

Here's the fabric I thought looked like Wormtongue's collar--Might need to be dyed and weathered but cool-

Here's the pic and the bolt end for ordering information. It was $14 a yard but it is in the Sewing Studio Annex (1-800-831-1492) for $9--once it's gone they probably won't get it again so it may need to be ordered directly from Logantex. **It photographed a bit shinier than it is in person. It may also be available in different colors from the supplier.

== Maggie



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This page was last updated 04/22/08