Smocking Tutorial

Smocked Dress tutorial by Melly Sews

Here’s how I did the smocking on the Fields of Gold Dress.

This smocking pattern doesn’t involve any special skill, just hand sewing and lots of time and patience. And I didn’t invent it, in fact there are other tutorials on the internet that you can find.

I started with a size XL men’s t-shirt. First, you mark out a grid of dots, these are where you will place your stitches. I just used washable Crayola marker for this.

2. Next, thread your needle. You will take a stitch at each of 4 dots in the order numbered in the picture. When you take the stitch, go from the outside of the dot at an angle toward the center of the square, like you were going to make part of an X with your needle. Then take a fifth stitch in the same place as the first stitch.

3. Pull the thread. You can see the flower shape starting to form. I found it useful to use a knitting needle to smooth out the folds and make sure this was really like a 4 petal flower.

4. Pinch the petals together like so and take another stitch across the middle

5. Now string a bead, and stitch across the middle and down through the back (direction indicated by arrow). Turn the fabric over and knot the thread on the back.

6. Cut the thread and repeat many, many times.

I also found it useful to use my knitting needle to smooth out the petals between flowers as I went. Sometimes when you pull the thread the petal gets stuck on the wrong side, so I would use the knitting needle to poke the fold up on the right side.

If you’re doing this on a garment, I suggest you not cut the pattern out until AFTER you’ve smocked – as you can see from my grid, this shrunk an XL shirt down to fit a size 6 girl. You lose about 1/2″ of both length and width for every one of these flowers you make, so allow a lot more width and length than normal when buying your fabric and planning your design.

Smocked Dress Tutorial - Melly Sews

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  1. Jan M says

    I have really enjoyed reading about your use of flower smocking in these cute outfits! Great job!

  2. says

    Mel Seriously THIS IS AMAZING. I cannot believe how much work went into this. Instant love. Great work and great color.

  3. SweetPepperRose says

    Oh how I love this! thanks for sharing your how-to =)

  4. Highland Monkey's says

    Absolutely brilliant and thanks for putting a tutorial on how you made this lovely dress.

  5. Katie Goldsworthy says

    I’ve always wondered how people did this! It’s beautiful and thanks for the tutorial!

    @ Creatively Living

  6. Amy says

    This is beautiful, I had no idea smocking was so simple, just very labor intensive. :) I’m a self-taught sew-er and was told by a very experienced one to not even think about smocking, I’m thinking I’ll find another experienced sew-er to take advice from! :) Thank you for sharing this.

  7. says

    (sorry about my broken english)
    it’s great! I like the idea and the way you make it.
    can you please explain what you did in the shoulders? It’s seems like you unstitch it and made some folds. Am I right?

    • says

      I cut out the dress after I did the smocking. To sew the sides and shoulders, I just pinned the folds from the smocking down like pleats.

  8. mrslauralynn says

    Wow, that is so clever! The finished product looks like it was really complicated to make but the tutorial makes it look so simple! I bet it take ages though! I’m going to try this one out, looks like its worth the effort! :)

  9. judy says

    i really love this and i want make some for my girls .congrats u did a great job ,please send a website where i can get more tutorial on this cause am using fabric.Thank you

  10. Irene says

    Where did you get that lovely pattern for the dress itself? I would LOVE to try to recreate the whole dress you made.

  11. MinnesotaE says

    I’d also like to know the pattern you used. Or did you just wing it? I love the added pockets. Little girls love pockets too!

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