Saturday, November 23, 2013

Picture Smocking-Picture Perfect Part 4

Everyone ready to start?

Find a comfortable place to sit with good lighting and lets begin……

Choose one of the designs to the left or right of the center design to begin with. The reason for this is because the center design will be the focal point. As you smock your stitches will get better. Leaving  the best for last.  

I am going to start with the Gingerbread Girl.  Choose your floss colors. I am going to use DMC #400 (brown) for the Gingerbread. #911(green) for the Christmas tree and #956 (pink) for the border for this tutorial.

Looking at the smocking design, notice where I have selected to start. This is a suggested location. You can choose any location  to start as  that long as it is on a pleating row. You could start on the outside edge or start in the center and work outward.

I am going to start 9 pleats to the left (as you look at the smocking plate) of the gingerbread girl on row 4.

We have dissected the smocking design, now we are going to break down the picture smocking design down to the lowest common denominator …….The Cable Stitch.

We are going to start by threading the needle with 4 strands of floss(brown) that has been stripped. In all of these photos my floss has  only been "squeaked". 

Make a knot on one end. We are going to bring the needle through the back of one of the pleats near where we are starting. Four strands of floss makes a bigger knot. I do not want the knot to fall in the valley of the pleats and give me a lump to smock around.

Gently pull the needle and floss till it is snug.

Bring the needle up in the valley between pleat 8 and 9. I have placed a straight pin to show you the edge of the design on that row. 

I like to make my first row to be a just slightly above the pleating threads. This is a matter of choice. You could also make your first row straddle the pleating thread, just watch that you don't go catch your pleating threads. 

Now, bring the needle to the left through the 9th pleat. Take notice of the depth of your needle. You will take a slightly deeper bite then you would with a geometric smocking plate.

Now we are ready to take our first cable stitch. According to the design this will be a Down Cable.

Keeping your needle parallel to your pleating threads and at the same depth bring your needle through the pleat.

Walla! A perfect cable stitch.  Notice that my floss looks like a ribbon.  This is good.

This picture is included for three reasons. The first is so you can see the depth of the needle through the pleat. The second reason is to talk about how you hold your insert.

I prefer to keep my insert sideways (as shown in this picture) so that I am smocking away from myself. I find it reduces the carpal tunnel in my wrist. This is a matter of choice. Choose to hold your insert/smocking the way it is most comfortable for you.

The third reason is to show you how to make the second cable. Keep the needle parallel and the depth consistent.

How is your floss doing?  Sometimes it just doesn't behave. If your floss has become twisted after you have already made your stitch just pull it up and smooth it out with the eye end of your needle.

If your floss is really twisted, you can slide your needle down the floss so that it is laying on your insert and then straight out the threads.

Continue stitching your cable row. We need 17 cables for first row.

When you get to the neon green thread that marks the center be carefull not to catch the thread.

When you get to the end of the row  to stop the last stitch of the Picture Smocking from making a "Y", I am going to slant my last stitch.

I am going to keep my needle straight as I have previously done. But before I pull my needle through the fabric I am going to pull the eye end of the needle to one side twisting the pleat. Then pull the needle and floss through.

The first row is now complete!

To be continued…….


  1. Janet,

    This has been a wonderful tutorial! I'm learning so much!

  2. Thank you for taking the time to do such a nice tutorial.

  3. Awesome, Janet. Thank you for the great tutorial!