Friday, November 15, 2013

Picture Smocking -Part 1 Q and A

Before I post the next installment of this Smock-Along let me answer some questions first.

1.Why do you use a stem stitch instead of a cable?

I use a stem stitch for several reasons. The first one is because I do  a lot  PS, so I do a lot of back smocking. I not have to think about a stitching a stem stitch like you would with a cable stitch where you need an Up and Down cable.  

I am a sports mom, so I spend a lot of time waiting for practice to end. I can carry my inserts with me and back smock in the car where the light and the environment are not always ideal.

A stem stitch does not distort the pleats on the front. If you do a cable stitch as back smocking then every row need to be identical. If you start with an Up stitch then every row needs to be an Up stitch.

2. What Thread are you using for Back Smocking? 

I am using DMC #12.  I used white thread for this tutorial but I actually prefer to use a thread color that is slightly a different color. Off white thread for a white insert. Black thread for a navy blue insert. I find it reduces eye strain.

I store my thread in these cute little plastic jars from The Container Store . NAYY (No affiliation, yada yada)   A tip I borrowed from Martha Stewart is to make a hole in the bottom and pull the thread out from there. I made the hole in the bottom the same way I did the holes for my  Pleater Thread Box.

3. Why are you using the fabric you choose?
 I use a broadcloth weight fabric for picture smocking so that it can support the weight/denseness of the picture smocking.  I prefer 100% cotton Kona Cotton because it come in 271 colors and it is easy to smock. 

Could you use Imperial Broadcloth? Of Course you can. You will feel your needle will have a little friction when you pull the needle through. This is from the polyester blend in the fabric.

I usually say this several times when I am teaching smocking………The Smocking Police does not exist!  What I love about SAGA (Smocking Arts Guild of America) is you discover so many different techniques that people use, and guess what it is still smocking and you can't see mistakes on a moving child! :-)

If there is any questions that you may still have feel free to ask or email me. ~jg


  1. Thank you so much for helping those of us that are picture smocked challenged.I am going to get some Kona cotton.

  2. Do you find the Kona Cotton is harder to get through the pleater?

  3. I find it is hard to pleat Kona only if I am pleating half rows. I run wax paper through my pleater every time before I pleat. I have also use an emery bag (something like the strawberry thing that you see attached to some pin cushions) to keep my pleater needles sharp.