Monday, December 14, 2009

Can You Picture it? Part 4 - Half Stitches

Ready for Half Stitches?

When I was teaching myself to Picture Smock these things drove me crazy. I had read several instructions on Picture Smocking and the subject of half stitches just left me confused.

After much practice this is what works for me.....

When I have a smocking row that has a half stitch on either end of the row, the Half stitch is going to be the very first stitch and the very last stitch.

  1. I am going to start off as usual. I have a large eyed needle. My threads have been stripped and I have ran them through a piece of wool.

  • My knot has been secured to the back of a pleat.

  • I am going to bring my needle up in the bottom of a valley.

  • One thing different that you may notice is when I bring my needle over through the left pleat (right pleat if I was left handed) is the needle position is slightly higher.

Remember when you have always been told that the needle must be kept straight when you are Picture Smocking? Well, here is the exception.

  • Because my half stitch is only covering one pleat I need to place it exactly where I want.

Here is a close up to better explain what I am doing.
  • My threads are to the bottom (remember I smock with my fabric sideways).

  • My needle is going to enter the pleat exactly vertical to where my threads exited the pleat before.

  • Then my needle is going to exit the pleat at a 45 degree angle, right beside the previous threads. I am also making sure the needle is exiting at the same depth as the previous stitch.

Walla! A half stitch! :-)

Now, If I only had to do one half stitch, life would be too easy! :-) I have another half stitch at the end of my row.

  • After my first half stitch, I am going to stitch 9 more cable stitches.

  • On my ninth cable stitch I am going to repeat the process and stitch a half stitch but this time in reverse. My Half Stitch will be the last stitch.

  • My ninth cable is going to enter the pleat exactly vertical as the previous stitches, but it is going to exit the pleat at a 45 degree angle.

When I am stitching my last half stitch I am also stitching my last stitch of the row. I am going to stitch this exactly as I would a regular cable as described in the previous lessons.

  • My needle is going to enter the fabric vertically then I am going to push down on the end of the needle slightly twisting the pleat and pull my needle through.

  • If this really doesn't work for you then try bringing the needle at a 45 degree angle.

Now lets get more complicated and stack the the half cables!

  • I have turned my fabric over so that I am smocking away from me. If I was left handed I would be smocking towards me.

  • My needle and thread are on top just to the right of the first row.

  • With my needle straight up and down, I am going to go through the first pleat just to the right of the previous first stitch.

  • I am not going to reuse any of the previous needle holes to do this. This would weaken the support of your half stitch.

  • With my needle and thread through the pleat I am going to repeat the process of the first half pleat.

  • My needle is going to enter the pleat vertical then exit the pleat at a 45 degree angle.

  • I then stitch 9 more cable stitched.

I am going to finish the row the same way. My half stitch cable is going to be the last stitch.

  • I have stitched the ninth cable.

  • I entered the fabric with my needle vertical and have exited the fabric at a 45 degree angle.

  • This time because I am stitching my cable stitch on the inside and my next cable row is below I am exiting the fabric at a 45 degree angle.

And I am done.

To be continued.......... Next tutorial- Increasing and decreasing cables.


  1. Great tutorial! I need to do some picture smocking... but the bug just won't bite me right now.

  2. Thank you so much.
    I haven;t had the time to practice, but I will.
    The one thing I want to try is to do a bishop.
    Can you teach a old dog new tricks?

  3. I'm so glad I found your site. My question for the half stitch is why go in vertical/angle? Why not straight like a regular stitch? Thank you.

  4. The reason for going at an angle for half stitches has to do with the threads underneath causing the space to gap. I also go at an angle when I finish a row.

    I highly recommend that you try the half stitches straight and at an angle and see what works for you.

    Please email me if you having trouble. I can try and walk you through.~janet gilbert

  5. I was doing okay with the pictures when the pleats were vertical, but got lost when the pleats went horizontal (3rd picture).

  6. Sorry you got lost. The direction you hold your pleated fabric is a matter of choice. I like to hold my fabric sideways when I smock. The angle and position of the needle is exactly the same either way.

    Email me if you need more help. ~janet

  7. Thank you so much! This is perfect!

  8. I'm just learning how to picture smock and this was a great tutorial, thanks!

  9. The orientation of the pictures confused me. If I were to rotate the pictures so I'm smocking from right to left which way would I rotate them - clockwise or counter clockwise?

  10. Fantástico tutorial!!!
    Thank you very mucht