Nice as hand smocking

Smocking is a design technique used to gather fabric and embroidery stitches to make patterns. To do smocking, regular gathers (or pleats) are taken on the fabric with long stitches on the back and very small stitches in the front. Nowadays you’ll mostly find smocking on children’s garments, but it also looks great on women’s clothes and accessories, as well. You can also include smocking on your home decor projects, like on pillows. If you really want to experiment, you can add beads to the smocking, as well. 

All you’ll need is regular cotton basting thread, fabric, and embroidery thread. 


Lightweight woven fabrics such as linen and cotton are the easiest to gather and smock. The gathering or pleating step required before smocking can be done either by hand or machine. 

Most natural fibers will work well, just stay away from silk. Because the pleating will shrink the fabric, you’ll need a width of fabric that is 2 to 3 times the size of your dress. 


Generally, when using hand smocking techniques, you’ll use four to six strands of embroidery thread and whichever embroidery needle works best with your thread. The thread should always follow the needle to avoid twisting the thread.


Gathering the fabric can be done by hand, with the use of transfer stickers, or by using a pleating machine. You need an even number of pleats.  Now mark the  center two pleats. The center of your smocking is actually the valley between these two pleats. You can make a mark at this place with a small stitch or using the chalk. This is a very important step in smocking.


When gathering fabric by hand, the easiest method is the use of iron-on transfer dots, which place evenly spaced marks on the wrong side of the fabric that can then be gathered using a running stitch. Dots can also be done by hand. (figure 1)

Paying attention to where the thread lies in relation to the needle will result in stitches that lie neatly across the pleats. The outline stitch and the cable stitch are the two common stabilizing stitches used to begin most patterns. (figures 2)Think of the smocking stitch as a backstitch. Always work from left to right. Thread position is important. If you are working across rows, the thread follows the needle.  The “bite” or depth of the stitch taken across the pleat should also be kept at a uniform depth. Usually a third to one half of the pleat depth is picked up when stitching.

Bring needle up through the left hand valley of the next pleat. Insert needle back through the  first pleat – the one you will be starting the stitch with (from left to right) keeping needle parallel to the gathering thread. Do the smocking stitches.

Find some beautiful  hand smocked samples by Babeeni right below on:

I hope you give a try. 

Happy handsmocking!

Falling leaf hand smocked longall for baby boys – BC 557

Feature: Hand smocked longall for boy with leaf hand smocked pattern, buttons on the shoulder and snaps at the crotch for easy dressing.

Material : Lime green plain

Boy shortall with hand-smocked valentine boat – BC 755

Feature: A very lovely romper for boys in red, black and white plaid fabric. Finely hand-smocked valentine boat on the chest. Buttons on shoulders and snaps at crotch for easy wearing.

Material:red, black and white plaid fabric

Three turkey hand smocked bishop dress for girls – DR 1782

Feature:  Cute hand smocking bishop dress with Turkey patterns around the neck

Beautiful Christmas hand smocked dress – DR 2539

Feature:Beautiful bishop dress for little girl with christmas hand smocked pattern on the round neck, short sleeves. 

Material:Red and white plaid fabric

Anchor shadow embroidery A-line dress – DR 2469

Feature:Nice A-line dress with anchor applique patterns on the neck, sleeveless. 

Material:Navy quatrefoil

Bishop dress with hand-smocked dogs and heart balloons- DR 2569

Feature: A very lovely bishop dress for girl in Tan & BabyPink plaid fabric. Finely hand smocked patterns on the chest. Angel sleeves rimmed with pink zigzag.

Material:Tan & Baby Pink plaid fabric

Baby girls yoke dress with hand-smocked colorful dinosaurs – DR 2550

Feature:  A very eye-catching yoke dress for baby girls with hand-smocked patterns of colorful and lovely dinosaurs on the chest, lovely bow straps at back and ruffle in mint plain fabric.

Material: Yellow & Mint plaid fabric 

Luxury pink geometric smocked girl dress – DR 2258

Feature: Beautiful pink dress for sweet little girl with exquisite geometric hand smocked pattern and white hand embroidered flowers on the chest, angel sleeves, back buttons for easy dressing. 

Material: Pink plain