I'm particularly fond of a little girl's dress which has sophisticated smocking. No, the two terms are not mutually exclusive, even though we tend to think of smocking and baby clothes in the same breath.
My friend Maryann tells me how much she hated smocked dresses as a child -- she thought they were all "baby" dresses.
By the age of 5, she had grown out of most of them, but still had a much-hated blue number. "I was determined to get rid of that thing," she laughs. "So, that Easter my mother and grandmother were packing up a box of traditional Easter baked goods for my Uncle Charlie and Aunt Elwanda.
"When no one was looking, I put that blue dress into a paper bag and hit it under the nut rolls so it could go to my 'baby' cousin Susie. My mother never did figure out what happened to that dress."
I'm sure Maryann wouldn't have had that problem with the sort of flat smocking which makes use of elegant bullion knots. In my favorite, a white cotton or linen was used for the smocked yoke which is set into a contrasting color for a sophisticated look.
The embroidery threads match the main color of the dress and pull the whole effect together. This technique can be used on an all cotton dress for summer, of course. But I think it works particularly well with red or emerald green velveteen for the holidays.
All smocking is done with decorative stitches on pre-gathered fabric so that the stitches hold some of the gathers in place and free others.
My book, "Erica Wilson's smocking" shows a variety of stitches, but this bullion know -- that resembles a tiny worm -- is one of my favorites. To do it: *t 1) Come up at point A, go down at point B, leaving a loop on the surface.
2) Bring the needle half way up at A and wrap the thread around the needle until the number of twists equals length of stitch (Distance from A to B).
3) Hold top of needle and thread firmly and pull needle through.
4) Hold needle against end of twist and pull thread up tight until "worm" lies flat on fabric.
5) Go down at end of twist and pull taut.