Darlene’s Thread: Smocking, Sewing with Fur, and Stitch Elongation
Smocking is an embroidery technique that dates back to the Middle Ages. It typically reduces the dimensions of a piece fabric to one third its original size. Form-fitting and flexible, the embroidery technique used to smock allows the gathered, finished fabric to stretch. Although one may have seen smocking hand-worked with a crewel embroidery needle in the eighteenth century, today’s sewing machines offer us a variety of ways to acheive a smocked look adding texture and interest to apparel cuffs, collars, handbags, belts, bodices, necklines, waistlines and more.
On my recent vacation, I saw a lot of these little wrist bags. Perfect for your lipstick, credit cards, a camera or cell phone, these practical little pups served as my inspiration for an excuse to utilize smocking–one of my favorite techniques. I hope you’ll give it a try and surprise yourself by sewing smocking into an unexpected project.
1) Wind a bobbin with elastic thread and thread the bobbin in machine as usual.
2) Adjust stitch length to 4.5mm
3) Stitch parallel rows 1/2″ apart on your fabric. Lightweight works best. voile, lt. cotton, silk, crepe de chine, batiste, pique. Stitch across one side and down the other without cutting your thread between rows. It will gather a little but keep sewing.
4) Pull the elastic thread from the underside edge untill all the rows are gathered as much as you like.
5) On the right side, Topstitch with a contrasting thread between the rows of stitching.
6) Now clip the remaining ‘around the corner elastic ends’ and pull out the elastic threads.
7) Remove the bobbinless straight stitch thread from the topside. Flexible, stretchable and ready to use in your next project!
Fun Faux Fur Tips
Fortunately, we’ll be seeing fur adorning our apparel and accessories all over the runways again this fall. The selection is growing at your local fabric store, so whether you decide on a low pile or long hair variety, here’s a few tips for the best results!
1) Mark the pattern on the wrong side of the fur and insert the tip of your scissor as close to the fabric as possible. The idea is to cut only the fabric base–NOT the fur when cutting out the pattern.
2) after the cutting is complete, gently pull apart the pieces separating the fur.
3) When you’re adding a lining, you have two options, a) ‘comb’ the fur away from the edge b) cut the fur away from the edge 1/4″, then comb the new outline away from the seam. In this example with the longer hairs, I simply combed it out of the way.
The finished edge is natural with no accidental fur cuts or chunks sewn into seams. Experiment! Enjoy your new Lush look!
Many of today’s computerized machines have an option known as Stitch Elongation. This feature allows a user to stretch a decorative stitch by up to 5X. In this example, using the scallop stitch at 5X it’s normal length gives you a delicate 2″ long curved edge detail. Here’s how I did it!
1) SET UP–machine top and bobbin threaded, set to the crescent stitch and then activate 5X elongation…
2) Stabilize the edge that you’re going to scallop. If your project is a stretch knit, you must completely immobilize the stretch so your machine will think that it’s a woven. I use a medium weight iron-on woven interfacing–the kind used for tailoring–sandwiched between the outer fabric and a facing of the same bridal satin. You may need to iron on TWO layers depending on the fabric’s weight and the amount of stretch. Remember, any stretching will distort the stitch patterns.
3) Stitch along the edge where you want the feminine border.
4) Carefully cut along the crescent just outside of the stitching. Be CAREFUL not to clip the stitches.
5) Set you machine to satin stitching–(zig-zag .04mm in length and 3mm in width) Now stitch over the scallops again encasing the small amount of thread on the edge so that all you see now is an even clean thread finish.
September is National Month of Sewing! For more tips and tricks for sewing check out our show schedule for the month:
September 7 @ 7 am and 10am ET
September 8 @ 6am, 2pm and 6pm ET
September 14, 15, 20, 22, 24, 25, and 26
See you on-air!
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