Wednesday, December 30, 2009


My sister taught me to smock one afternoon in about an hour. I already knew a little bit about sewing. I could sew in a very basic way. I had sewn for my son and once I had a daughter to sew for, I got even more interested in sewing. My sister kept urging me to learn to smock for this baby girl I had. I had only the vaguest idea of what she was talking about. But after that one hour session, I was hooked.
The first book I purchased to help me in this new needle art endeavor was by Elizabeth Travis Johnson simply entitled, "English Smocking". Ms. Johnson had a list in the book of "Do's and Don'ts" in the planning of a smocked garment. Those tips held me in good stead and to me were the epitome of good taste for dressing a child. For the most part, they are still just as good today and bears a review!!!
From Elizabeth Travis Johnson (paraphrased):
Do make the garment style age  and body type appropriate, i.e., a waisted dress is not as good on a one year old as a bishop and a ten year old looks better in the waisted dress.
Keep color shades of brightness in the same family.
Use quality fabric.
Smocking is a busy form of needlework, so use care when adding too many other details.
Keep sleeves short, collars small and hems deep.
I guess it is because this is what I first learned when I was learning to smock,but I still lean towards these ideas today.


Peg @ Bloomfield Farm said...

Hi Sara, I just found your blog while reading the comments at Between Naps on the Porch and came over to check it out! When my three daughters were young, I actually took children's sewing from Mrs. Johnson! It was a two year course and for several years following that, I'd go once a month to what we called "third year." We learned to draft patterns from a standard block pattern, did hand sewing, appliques and smocking. She was a lovely woman and even had us to a tea in her home. I still have her cheese straws recipe. Some of her students started The Childrens Corner and she allowed them to reproduce her patterns. That store is still in business in Nashville and has drop-in classes that I'd love to take to refresh my skills so I can sew for my two granddaughters. I'll look further at your older posts... just had to comment when I saw Mrs. Johnson's name!

Sara said...

How fortunate you are to have sewn under the master!!! She truly was an amazing woman!!! Thank you for your comments and for stopping by!!

Smocking with Gwen said...

Hi Sara....So glad to finally have a chance to check out your blog. Love the story of Mrs. Johnson. Her influence over so many of us is immeasurable. I laugh to think of my first smocking project...before I learned about the Read Pleater. I picked up dots and wasn't too ambitious as I only smocked six rows...Wow! I do look forward to watching what new things you will be doing in the coming year.

Sara said...

Thank you Gwen!!! I can't wait to see your designs in the future issues of SB!!!

Jeannie B. said...

This post is for January 22. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! I hope I did get the date right.


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