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.