I am pretty sure I have fallen in love with this dress. Readers, I mean ready to get married ‘in love’ with this dress. Little girls in smocked dresses fall pretty close to swaddled, sleeping babies on my list of things I love.
Joel’s mom has smocked beautiful dresses for his sister and our girls, so I asked for a lesson while we were visiting one week this summer. She obliged and showed me how to assemble a bishop dress and also how to use a pleater. I must admit the whole process of pleating was like a huge light bulb going off in my head. Once I saw the process – smocking made much more sense to me. Basically, the pleater runs rows of horizontal thread through the yoke of the dress. Then, smocking is the process of hand embroidering across the yoke of the dress using the horizontal pleated threads as a guide to add a geometric design to the dress.
I had tucked away a one yard piece of 60″ wide red & white seersucker I bought on clearance last summer. (Doesn’t it just look like one giant, delicious peppermint?) When I bought it, I had no intention of learning to smock on it, but wouldn’t you know it 12 months later it was the perfect amount of fabric to give smocking a go. After assembling and pleating the dress under a helpful eye, I took the dress home and worked on it. After it was done Donna assembled it for. Someday, I will learn to do it myself, but I have to be honest, I like the joint effort on this type of project. Nana, you are ok with that for some time to come, right?
I was thinking about why this process was so particularly appealing to me at this point in my life. On the surface, I could easily conclude it is just because I wanted the finished product. While there is some bit of truth to that, I could not help but think it was much deeper. Since smocking is hand work it was incredibly possible to pick it up when I had a few minutes and then easily set it back down. I could work on the dress when I had the time and energy and then just simply set it aside until the next snippet of time was handed to me. I could, at will, escape for a few minutes of silence working on something one stitch at a time. I believe there lies the real reason I enjoyed making this dress so much. It was one stitch at a time. And, once the stitches were in the dress they didn’t need to be done again. The process was soothing; I just continued to move forward until the entire project was done – one stitch at a time.
These pictures were taken a couple weekends ago. It fits her now, but it is ample enough in the body and length to fit her next spring/summer.
And that silly goat tried to eat her dress. Sophia and I both began crying ……