Sewing a smocked dress, whether it's for a young girl or an adult woman, is an easy way to introduce yourself to designing and constructing dresses. Smocked dresses are forgiving, as the top portion is usually elasticated, or smocked, so you don't have to worry too much about the dress fitting exactly. In many cases, you don't need to purchase a pattern to make the dress.
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Where To Find Instructions
A number of websites offer free smock dress patterns or instructions to sew your own dress. While some sites do have a pattern that you need to print out, piece together and then cut, others simply instruct you to cut the fabric to your measurements and provide directions on how to sew in the smocking. If you are an advanced sewer, you may not even need directions for a dress and will be able to design and build one on your own.
A lightweight cotton is typically an ideal fabric for a smocked dress, especially if you are sewing a sundress. While you can purchase the fabric, you can also repurpose an old bed sheet, provided it is in good condition without any stains, tears or worn areas. If you're buying fabric, quilting weight cotton will work. Cotton lawn or voile are also good, lightweight options. A linen/cotton blend will make a more refined but still lightweight dress.
The key material you'll need for smocking is elastic thread. The thread goes into the bobbin on your sewing machine and creates the shirred, smocking effect on the dress. You'll need to sew multiple rows of stitches with the thread to create a properly smocked dress. It's best to wind the bobbin with the elastic thread by hand instead of using your machine so that you don't stretch out the elastic.
Smocking Pre-Made Dresses
Another option is to add smocking to a dress you already own, to improve its fit or to add some embellishment. If you have a dress that flows around the midsection and you'd like it to better define your waist, add a few rows of smocked stitches around the middle. You can also add a few inches of smocking to the top of dress for a decorative effect. If a dress is too loose, add a 6-inch wide section of smocking to the back to take it in.
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