5.14.2008

Poor Man's Smocking



This cutie is my cousin Allyson's little girl, and she is sporting Allyson's awesome handiwork. So great, isn't it?! Allyson calls this kind of shirring "poor man's smocking" and it is the perfect project for summer, and especially a great thing to attempt if you are intimidated by sewing as this top is simple and quick to make.

Here's how you do it: you need ELASTICIZED THREAD (I picked some up at JoAnn's for 90 cents), FABRIC, and NORMAL THREAD.

1. Figuring out size: I am a jimmy-rigger. Here is my very unprofessional technique - hold the fabric up to your little one and see about how long you want your top (or you can make a dress). Plan on the shirring shrinking it up to half its size in both the length and width, so err on the side of BIGGER!

2. Sew the sides together to make a tube (think pillowcase). Hem the top and bottom.

3. Thread the elastic: take an empty bobbin and wind it with your elastic thread. Stick in machine in bobbin spot. For top thread, pick something that looks good with your fabric.

4. Starting at the top of your tube, sew all around it, spiraling down however far you want to (in Allyson's top, she went about six inches). The elasticized thread will scrunch it all up magically. And - very important - Allyson says NOT to panic if it doesn't seem like it's gathering at first. You have to do at least three or four rows before it starts to work. (A variation: you can also, instead of spiraling down, sew a big wavy zig-zag across, keeping the zigs close to each other, if that makes sense. Like the zig-zag pattern on Charlie Brown's shirt).

5. Sew little straps on. And voila!

6. Put on child and feel happy that you just saved yourself some money by making a fab little shirt or dress.

36 comments:

DeerDominique said...

Yay! Thanks so much for sharing that! I'm on it.

Love the blog btw. A true inspiration .

Kat said...

You make it sound so simple! I'm off to have a bash...

Jess said...

Fantastic!
What an easy and practical technique!

lera said...

I tried this technique a few months ago and it didn't work for me. My newer machine refused to acknowledge the elastic in my bobbin (I think because the tension wasn't right) and when I tried it on my older machine, it didn't look good. I wound up pulling it all out.

I wonder what went wrong. It seems easy enough.

Bethany Hissong said...

I didn't think it could be so easy!!! I just saw dresses in mini Boden yesterday that had this smocking at the top for older girls too! I may have to give this a try! Thanks so much for the instructions! And Allyson's little girl is a doll!

Blakely said...

I love the title of your post. The instructions are great also.

little dresses said...

I made about 20 of these last summer and my girls loved them! They are super quick and easy. You could make an entire summer wardrobe in one day!

the tumtum tree said...

I walk by the smocking material every so often in the fabric store. It's like 30 cents an inch. AN INCH!! That's over $10 a yard which is too rich for my blood. I've seen a lot of interesting approaches to it recently. Thanks for the step by step, I have a couple ideas I'd like to attempt and I'm going to actually give it a stab.

wendyandmilo said...

Yay! Thanks so much for posting a tutorial - not that I don't LOVE your entire blog :)

Linnea said...

I am so trying this!!!

melissa said...

Yeah! I can't wait to try this. What a perfect little summer top. Way to go Allyson! I think I'd like to try this on a top for me! I need a fun smocked top. Thanks for the idea and thanks for the tutorial!

Myshell... said...

I can't wait to do this!!!

Melissa said...

thank you! that's a great idea. i can't wait to try this out...

Tania said...

Thank you thank you thank you! I was trying to figure out how to do this on a dress for my niece. The top is adorable. I cannot wait to get to my sewing machine!

shellyfish said...

I'm just learning to sew and really want to try to make some summer clothes for my 3-year-old. This sounds like the perfect project! Thank you!

dowen said...

Thanks for the tutorial; I've just need to iron out my fabric and give it a shot!

Out of curiosity, did you use a zig-zag stitch or a straight stitch? I can't quite tell from the pictures...

girlonarock said...

thanks for sharing, it looks simple enough for even me to try it!

myimaginaryblog said...

I know this is very late to add a comment, but for what it's worth, here are two tips that help:

1. Hand-wind the elastic thread on the bobbin. This keeps it from getting too stretched out before you sew it onto the fabric.

2. After you're finished, hold a steam iron above the fabric (not touching it) and give it plenty of steam. This will help it to pucker up like you want it to.

I never thought of sewing in a spiral rather than rows -- that's a great idea.

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She's a sweety and I like the look a lot. This is actually kind of reminiscent of 70's kids look.

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