Reaping Dress - Smocking
Remember how I was debating whether the dress in the movie had smocking or gathering/shirring at the neckline? No? Well of course not, you have more important things to remember, but in this post I came to the conclusion that it was probably shirring/gathering and I was just being paranoid or I must have a stiffer fabric or that I'd just have to add more rows of shirring.
How wrong I was! Erin commented on my post that she thought it was definitely smocking after looking at the pictures again. I googled it and found an article where the costume designer is quoted:
I could no longer lie to myself. Sure, I could've just stuck to shirring and be like "well I don't have to copy the dress exactly" , and while that's true, I think the smocking looks alot neater and since the fabric is simple and the neckline detail is really the center of attention, I knew I had to get over my apprehension and just learn the basics of smocking! (incase I haven't made it clear enough, this was a very dramatic turn of events you guyz!)
So after squinting at the picture to the left for a while to figure out what kind of smocking was used and finding a video that explained it well (I used the second one she shows, it's called the "honeycomb" stitch(?) I think), I started practicing on scraps of fabric.
And I'm glad I practiced, because it took me a while to figure out the perfect "ratio" of gathering stitch length : smocking stitch "height". It was off on my first sample, the folds where much to deep for the small stitches I made, and you couldn't really "open" the honeycomb pattern.
I figured out the height had to be about the same as two gathering stitches (because that's how deep the folds are).
After two practice runs I started on my reaping dress, added the facings to the bodice pieces and did the smocking. I used 0.5 cm stitches to gather the fabric, and the height of the smocking stitches is 1 cm, worked out well. Even though the smocking is much bigger on my version than the film, I really like it! I mean, if I'm going to be adding details by hand, they better be visible! :)
Also: narrow hemmed facings. They look soo neat and clean it's ridiculous! I don't think the edges will show through on the other side, it's a very thin cotton, but I'll let you know if they do.
I'm pretty much in love with smocking now. I love doing decorative hand-sewing, last summer I tried embroidery for the first time and now smocking! I haven't used embroidery on a garment yet because I don't feel I've had a good enough idea for a motif or placement yet... or I'm scared I'll get sick of it. Also, smocking is somehow more geometrical, working in a pattern and all. But both are relatively portable and surprisingly relaxing! You should totally try it! It's not as hard as it looks. I even dedicated a page in my sketchbook to it:
I did 3 rows of the stitch, but I think the movie one used 5 but with smaller folds and smocking stitches. If there's one thing that bothers me teeny tiny bit, it's that even though I adjusted the neckline slightly and moved the smocking further up, it's still sloping downward a little.
Now on to the next steps, sleeve band or rolled up sleeve? Probably sleeve band. A-line skirt or 2/3 circle skirt? Hmm, probably a bit of both? I'll see tomorrow!