Tag Archives: Australian Sewing and Embroidery

A New Smocked Play Dress

Green Dress Green Dress 6

Green Dress 3Green Dress 5Green Dress4 Green Dress 2

This dress has been a regular visitor to my sewing basket for over a year now. I bought the material on a whim simply because I like the colour and the softness of it. I brought it home and promptly pleated it up – the same time as this dress actually. I had no idea what I was going to do with it, what pattern to use, what smocking design to stitch. But I did love the colour: smile.

The fabric is so light and flimsy that is was not easy to smock. So I shelved it many times, deciding to forget the whole process. But the colour kept calling me back and I would attempt smocking once again: smile. We moved house and it nearly didn’t get packed, in fact is was in the ‘throw out’ pile, but somehow it moved itself – that colour, I tell you…..

Then the year was getting later, December had arrived and our hot, Australian summer was in full swing and I decided it was now or never. I had to either make this up or forget it for good – after all this girl of mine was growing and it wouldn’t fit her forever. A week long holiday by the beach was just what I needed. This dress has memories of waves, sand, beach, pool and family holiday fun smocked into each stitch.

I made up the smocking design as I went. Doing all that green, lattice smocking without any real idea of what I would do next to brighten it up, but thinking of Susan O’Connor’s beautiful designs all the time. In my basket was a selection of bright, flower garden coloured, threads which I kept looking at, trying to get inspiration on just how to use them. But after several attempts I couldn’t get my ideas to work. The flimsy fabric limited what I could do (lots of bullion loops covering the bodice just wasn’t going to hold). After so many attempts, I’m finally very happy with the outcome.

But I still had to decide on a pattern and make it up. Light, green, summer, flowy fabric just needed a summer, sundress. Digging through my rather large (almost complete), collection of Australian Smocking and Embroidery Magazines I spotted the sundress here. Decided.

Then Christmas Eve I was totally organised for going away, bags packed, cooking done, children all occupied and still about 4 hours till my husband would be home from work and we were to leave. So I sewed it up. Such a quick and easy pattern to sew, no sleeves to fit, no bodices to line etc. I even had plenty of time to hand stitch the hem and do a (very quick) photo shoot and still be well and truly ready to go visiting our families. And Holly had a new, cool, sundress to wear on Christmas Day.

Ahhh….. That’s the way I like a sewing project like this to end.








A new smocked play dress

Yes. This Mummy has been busy once again outfitting this girl with another pretty, smocked, play dress. I started this project back at the beginning of summer but found the smocking part of this project a little more ambitious than I first thought. It seemed to take a lot more time than I had anticipated. Therefore instead of being a Christmas party dress, it’s now finished just in time for winter…. Thankfully adding a little jacket (which is on my sewing table at the moment) and tights will take it through our mild winter here nicely as well.

The smocking is all done with a beading needle because of those beautiful sparkling golden beads which adorn the entire, full smocked bodice. This means the smocking took a little more care than normal – those long, thin needles are easy to break and the bowl of beads sitting beside me meant that my working time had to be done only when my littlest was asleep (golden beads make lovely play toys, and they are extremely hard to pick up off the floor, trust us, we tested this many times!). Then once the front of the bodice is smocked, the entire bodice is back-smocked (just as much work but nobody sees it). And then just when I was thinking it was getting ready to be made into a dress, I began on the bullion knot flowers which cover the beaded bodice.

Quite a project for such a simple looking outcome. But that’s why I do it – because I love the process, the endless hours of creating and the delight of my girl wearing a pretty, girly dress.

White smocked dress 1 White smocked 3 White smocked dress 2 White smocked dress 4 White smocked 5 white smocked 6 White smocked dress 7 White smocked dress 8 White smocked dress 9




Pattern – Australian Smocking and Embroidery Issue #63 (now out of print but other issues can be found here)

Fabric – a medium/heavy weight cotton pique (bought from a nearby fabric store). As I was working this, I thought maybe I should have chosen a lighter fabric. This was fairly heavy, not as heavy as fine whale corduroy but heavy for a summer play dress. The finished product though, has left me very happy. The weight of the fabric allows it to fall beautifully and on a older girl (age 7) it works to have a more substantial weight dress.

Details: The bodice is beaded with gold seed beads (from my craft stash). Finished with self-fabric binding and white piping. Golden, heart shaped buttons (from my newly discovered local fabric store) close the full back opening.