Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on September 11, 2011
How to Do Honeycomb Smocking for “Maria’s Sound of Music Dress”
For years I have admired Maria’s delicate blue chiffon dress from “The Sound of Music”. With the tightly belted waist, gathered bodice, butterfly sleeves, and honeycomb smocking, it is certainly one of the loveliest Sound of Music costumes ever! After years of studying this costume I have completed the pattern for “Maria’s Gazebo Dress“, which bears a striking resemblance to the original “Maria von Trapp” costume. But it is that last element, the honeycomb smocking, which may deter seamstresses from sewing a replica of this famous dress. Not to worry, though – since Edelweiss Patterns’ “Maria’s Gazebo Dress” pattern contains the option for either honeycomb smocking or machine shirring, and with this step-by-step tutorial you can quickly learn how to honeycomb smock in a few minutes! What better way to commemorate “The Sound of Music” than with your “needle pulling thread”?
Sound of Music Trivia – And just as the famous line from “The Sound of Music” claims, (“I can make my own clothes!”) the real Maria von Trapp did in fact sew her own clothing, and had previously worked her way through college by doing custom hand-embroiderery.
But back to honeycomb smocking! Below I have included the photos and instructions on not only how to honeycomb smock, but all of the steps for how to create the smocked “v” panel on Maria’s Sound of Music dress. So if you are just wanting to learn how to smock, you can skip to steps 5 through 13.
How to do Honeycomb Smocking for Maria’s Gazebo Dress
1. Using pattern piece 8, lay one sheer “v” panel on top of one lining “v” panel and pin in place.
2. Machine stitch around the edges of the “v” panel, keeping the needle exactly 5/8″ away from the edge. (This will serve not only as a means to keep the two layers together, but also as a guide for marking the dots to smock.)
3. Beginning directly underneath the stitching line at the top of the “v” panel, mark with a fabric pen at 1/2″ intervals from one end of the stitching to the other. (Start and end where the machine stitching ends.)
4. For the second row of dots, keep the markings in line with the top row, making sure that the second row is 1/2″ below the top row. Continue marking the dots 1/2″ apart on the inside of the machine stitching until the entire inside of the “v” panel is marked. Be sure to mark only on the inside of your machine stitching!
5. Now it’s time to smock! Thread your hand needle with a double thread and knot the ends. On the first dot on the far left, bring your needle up from the bottom (so the knot will be underneath) and take one small stitch (down and up) under the dot directly to the right of the first dot.
6. Without tightening the thread, take a small stitch through the first dot just as you did on the second dot.
7.Now pull the thread tight so that the first two dots you stitched through are pulled together.
8. Take one firm stitch down, right through both dots you pulled together so they will be held in place and not slip apart.
9. You’ve already learned the basic stitch – now it’s just a matter of learning the sequence! On the dot directly below dot number 2, come up with your needle, making sure that you don’t pull it too tightly (you want the top layer of dots to lay flat, not to be pulled down towards the second row.)
10. Just as you did in steps 5 and 6, take a stitch through the dot directly to the right, then one through the dot you came up on. Pull the two dots together tightly, and take one firm stitch through both layers.
11. Now you are going to do the same steps again, but this time you will start on the dot directly above the one you just finished. Repeat steps 5-8, and after you have finished one set of dots, you will continue alternating sewing the dot above or below the dot you just finished.
12. Once you get to the end of a row, tie a knot in the thread and begin all over again on the left side of the fabric, just one row underneath the row you just stitched. As you did in the top row, you will stitch through two dots (the first one you come up through and the one to its right), and then repeat the steps, alternating starting one dot above the one you finished and one dot below.
13. Continue with your honeycomb smocking until the entire panel is stitched.
14. Now that you have finished your smocking, you’re ready to proceed with sewing your Sound of Music dress! Place the finished smocked panel over the “V” panel lining (pattern piece 9). Shape to match piece 9 exactly, pin in place, and baste through all the layers with machine stitching around the outside edges.
Continue with the dress construction as written in the pattern instructions.
“You can smock most anything…”
Once you’ve learned how to smock, you will have a whole plethora of projects to use your new skill on. You can do hand smocking on baby dresses, evening clutches, Victorian frocks, or every-day blouses. Because honeycomb smocking naturally has a bit of “give” or stretch to it, you can use this stitch to control fullness in a garment where you will need to have some movement. In fact, smocking was the precursor to elastic in the garments of antiquity, and as early as the 1500s paintings showed smocked panels in areas such as above the bust and at the sleeve ends or cuffs. Be creative and see how many different ways you can use this heirloom technique in your sewing projects! As always, I am happy to answer any questions you might have about this sewing tutorial.
To read more about the details of this Sound of Music costume pattern, click here.
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