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How to Make a Smocked Doll Dress
Once you learn the basics of smocking you can apply it to any project that you want to add beautiful detail to. Smocking lends itself particularly well to doll clothes, where you're trying to create a visual confection.
Smocking consists of simple embroidery stitches on gathered fabric.
Look here for "how to's" of some embroidery stitches
Embroidery stitches used in Doll Making
Before you can do the decorative embroidery you need to gather the fabric. The dress I made was made for my 20 inch Berenguer LaBaby which is 16 inches around the waist and 5 inches from the shoulder to the waist. So, to make a smocked bodice for the dress I needed a piece of fabric 6 inches wide by 25 inches long. Only the front of the bodice will be smocked, so for a finished bodice front of 9 1/2 to 10 inches wide, multiply by 2 1/2.
The first step in smocking is to gather the fabric. For this step it is helpful to use a contrasting thread to make it easy to see as you work. To gather the fabric you need to mark dots, on the back of the fabric, every 1/2 inch in rows 1/2 to 3/4 inch apart, across the fabric. To skip this step I use gingham fabric. The corners of the squares are the dots and the woven pattern is equal throughout. Depending on the size of the gingham blocks you decide how many squares apart the rows of dots are. In the photo the gingham is approximately 1/8 inch squares. I took small stitches (only about 2 to 3 threads) every third square with 4 squares between the rows. Leave the fabric flat (don't gather yet) while you stitch across. After all the rows are stitched, gather all the threads at once until your fabric looks like the picture.Tie the threads to keep the fabric gathered while doing the decorative stitches.
Turn the work over to the right side; the side with deep folds. Begin with a foundation line of outline stitch across the top and bottom of the gathered area. Each stitch is done through one fold.
The green lattice design is a variation of outline stitch in which you zig-zag between 2 of your gathering threads. Inside the lattice I have made flowers using lazy daisy stitch, but you can use french knots, or any other stitch that you like.
When all the decorative stitching is done to your satisfaction - remember, this is your creation - with as much or as little stitching as you like, remove the threads used to gather the fabric. You might notice the piece of fabric relaxes out to a slightly larger size, this is not a problem.
Now you can use whatever pattern you like to complete the dress, using the smocked piece as you would unsmocked fabric for the bodice. I used this one:
21 Inch Lalena Doll Dress Pattern
Making and Dressing Cloth Dolls
Ebook with patterns and instructions to make 5 cloth dolls as well as chapters on general doll making techniques.The book includes 21 inch Lalena Doll, 21 inch David Doll, Bear Dolls, 9 inch Destiny Doll and 15 inch Annie Doll, all together in one handy book. 53 pages.Making and Dressing Cloth Dolls.
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