Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Getting Started

I know--I'm a week late!  Yikes, and so sorry!  I designed a few collegiate inspired boy's graphic tee shirts that received a bit of interest, so I've busy with those.  So much fun!

Anywho, I wanted to share what you needed to get started if you wanted to just wanted to try a few stitches before you really delved into making book or dvd purchases or taking classes.  And of course, you can always email me at (mothersmocker at gmail dot com).  :)

Basic smocking supplies are pleated fabric, needle (a #7 darner, specifically), thread, and a basic knowledge of different smocking stitiches.  This is just the bare minimum to get you started in geometric smocking (which you need to master before moving to picture smocking.)

You can have most any fabric pleated.  You can also buy "sample" pleated fabric from most local smocking stores.  If you aren't near a smocking store, I have listed some samples in my new Etsy store.

You can buy darners from stores like JoAnn, but my extremely knowledgeable teachers suggested a specific one they carry, and it's also one that I think many other smockers prefer.  It's said that they make for a smoother, and easier, stitch.  Here's one listed at Garden Fairies Trading Company.

As far as thread goes, DMC brand that most any craft stores carry is definitely okay to use, especially if you're just trying smocking out.  Anchor is a great brand as well, which is what my local shop carries.

Now when it comes to actual stitches, you almost need to see it in motion (or at least a really detailed photo) so you can see actual placement in the peaks and valleys of the pleats.  Basic smocking stitches are cable stitch & wave stitch.  Below are videos from Laurie at SewNSo on YouTube:

Cable Stitch

Cable Stitch Add-Ons & Baby Wave

So that, my friends, is the bare necessities!  Again, let me know if you have any questions!  I'd love to help you out!  Happy Smocking!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Smocking Great Online Resources--AND Local Smocking Stores

So, I'm kinda combining the Online Resources post and Local Stores post into one.  Many of the stores that I know about have websites as well, though a few don't really have an online store.  I would love to create a static page with all local stores that anyone knows of, so if you do know of one in your area, please email me at mothersmocker (at) gmail (dot) com, so I can add it to the list!

(And the dress pictured today is one I just finished sewing for my daughter.  Going to be a Christmas dress with flamingos in Santa Hats!  I shortened the arms to be 3/4 length, and added shirring to create the bell sleeves. I haven't seen it done on a smocked dress, so I thought I'd try!)

And before I start, if you are new to smocking, when I mention plates I mean smocking designs.  I didn't know that when I first started!

Sewnso  Blogger with Online Store, based in Columbia, TN
Laurie Anderson of Southern Stitches (Online Store) and Brer Rabbit Designs (she also designs sewing patterns!), has some great tutorials!  Also offers ready to smock and smocking plates.

Garden Fairies Trading Company Online Only
I have ordered a few plates from them.  It took a little while to receive them, but I just found an excellent page of FAQs, as well as tips from them!  Great to read while you're getting ready to start to learn, or if you just need a little help improving--like I do!  The offer a little bit of everything smocking related

Martha Pullen Online Store Huntsville, AL
Martha Pullen is known for any and all types of sewing.  And excellent quality at that.  Their online store includes some DVD in pleating and smocking, if you are pause and repeat type of learner, like I am.  Many times, I have to see something in motion.

Peanut Butter-n-Jelly Kids Mobile, AL
Fabric and Plates--I ordered some fabric from them a few years ago.  Great turnaround!

The Smocking Bird Birmingham, AL
I personally have not shopped here, but have several friends in the Birmingham area that have.  They love it!

Calico Rose Quilt Shop Florence, AL
This is one of the sites really for information purposes, not necessarily for online shopping.  I have only been shopping for fabric here, but the woman that runs the store is so sweet!  She offered to help me with any smocking questions I had, even though I didn't take my classes from her!  :)  I also have several friends who have taken smocking classes here, which they loved!

The Children's Corner Nashville, TN
I need to go visit this store in person.  I ordered my Bishop Blocking guide from them, when my local shop was out.  This store also creates sewing patterns.  I just bought their new "Mamie" pattern--round yoke dress with angel sleeves.  I really like their tips they include.  Online smocking related items they carry are needles, patterns, piping, ready to smock, and smocking plates.

And last that I have, but not least:
Stitcher's Playhouse Smyrna, TN
This is another website mainly for information purposes, not online shopping.  BUT, Anne and Jeannie are the two amazing ladies that own the shop and taught me to smock!  I just love Jeannie's classes, and they will help you out with ANYTHING!  They encouraged me to teach myself to picture smock when I couldn't make it to the class, and then helped with my technique during my insert class!  :)  You can find a list of their current classes on their site.

I know there are more stores like this, but these are the only ones that I have come across in my searches and scouring of the web.  Please, please let me know of any sites or stores related to smocking that you know of so they're not left out!  Local shops are not only sources of classes and information, but they can also pleat things for you to smock.  Just ask!  Also, many of these stores have Facebook pages with more current info, and announcements when they are running sales!

And since I combined my two projected posts, I think the next one will be what you will need to get started!  Until then, stay out of the heat and smock!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Funky Fall

Getting a head start on baby girl's fall handmade clothes!  All sewn up and ready to smock, complete with vintage brass buttons for the closure.  "Matilda Jane" meets Mother Smocker?! ;)  Can't wait to smock it!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Starting with Books

Hope everyone had a most enjoyable Fourth of July weekend!  We sure did, and followed it up with my daughter's FIRST birthday!  Whew!

But enough of the Mother stuff--on to the Smocker part!  :)

I'm a crafting book hoarder.  Books are so fun to thumb through, drool and dream of making the delish bits and pieces inside each one.  So, I'm going to start my knowledge spew with books I've gotten about smocking.

The first one is for smocking solely.  It's A-Z of Smocking by Country Bumpkin Publishing.  This book is a great reference guide, mainly for geometric smocking.  Not a ton of picture smocking resources, but you must learn to geometric smock well in order to move on the the picture smocking.

The next book I purchased was the "follow" up to the afore mentioned book, which is A-Z Sewing for Smockers by Susan O'Connor.  You really only need this if you plan on sewing your garments from start to finish.  If you just want to learn to smock, I would just get the previously mentioned book.  There are several places you can buy pre-sewn, ready to smock outfits--I'll cover the ones I've found in a later post.

One last one is just a book with a few more "modern" patterns for sewing smocked outfits.  I had it, gave it away when I didn't get into smocking a few years ago, but have now purchased it again!  :)  Plus, having a little girl of my own makes it more fun to sew/smock.  Anywho, this is Designer Smocking for Tots to Teens by Helen Davies.

If you like magazines, the Sew Beautiful Magazine has tons of beautiful sewing ideas and patterns, including smocking.

Like I said before, there are not tons of resources on smocking.  There are a few more books I've seen on Amazon, but the top two are the ones I have, and that my local sewing shop carry as well.

My next post will be about online resources, then I'll start a list of "local" shops to follow that one.  Once I cover all of those, I'll share a boo-boo or two that I've done--so any other beginners won't do it!  :)  I'll also share a few accomplishments, as well as take you through a new pattern from sewing start to finish!

I'm going to attempt to get at least one post out per week, but I am a Mother, and my two wild, crazy, amazing kids keep me going ALL.THE.TIME!  :)  I know most of you can relate!  Until then, Happy Smocking!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Why I'm a Mother Smocker

Hi--my name is Ashley, and I'm a addicted to crafting.  There.  I said it.  I'm full of "useless" information.  I learn as much as I can about any one form of craft before moving on to the next.  Until now.  I'm really addicted this time...to smocking.

Smocking has been around for centuries, and is here to stay--obvy.  I'm mean, look at all the cute bow-heads and boys sporting gorgeous garb with the fine embellishment of smocking.  But, in this modern world of internet, there's a lack of information and resources on how to smock.  Believe me, I looked.  And looked.  And looked.

I've now been smocking for about 6 months, and I want to share with you what I've found, done, and what you shouldn't do!  You'll probably learn along with me--or have already learned what I need to know, so you can share too!  This is our little space of the cyber world to help the newest age of mommies who smock--MOTHER SMOCKERS--find resources, tips and tricks to sew and smock the raddest clothes for the little nuggets in their lives.

Happy Smocking!

*A shout out to the Hubs for coining the phrase, and calling me, a Mother Smocker while I learned this amazing art form.  I think it's fabulous!  :)

**Next post--suggested smocking reading!