Smocking part 1

For the smocking I’m using what Wikipedia calls the surface honeycomb stitch. An excellent step by step guide can be seen here

First try at the surface honeycomb stitch.
First try at the surface honeycomb stitch.

My first thought was to do the stitches with 1 cm between the rows. I then sewed a total of ten rows. That made the height of the smocking approximately 9 cm. Then I loosened the threads from the gathering stitches to look at the result.

Bah! The apron had a width of something like 15 cm – at the most! Believe me when I say it looked ridiculous! 🙂 Off to find the seam-picker and pick up all the stitches. Fortunately the honeycomb stitch is pretty quick once you get the hang of it, both to sew and to pick up…

On the second try I made rows with 1.5 cm between (or slightly wider). This made 6 rows and when I pulled out the threads from the gathering stitches the apron was 25 cm wide at the smocking. A much better result!


Second try.
Second try.

6 thoughts on “Smocking part 1

Add yours

  1. Great stuff this, exploring the world of aprons! I’d never heard the theory about the Luttrell Psalter – aprons being smocked with black thread. I’ve just always interpreted the black as a depiction of the folds.

    Anyway – exactly the same thing happened to me with my apron! 😀 I made the folds way too deep and the width was just ridiculous, like half a sleeve or something. It’s good to know I’m not the only one. This encourages me to pick out the seams and get started on it again.

  2. I always felt like the explanation that the black symbolizes the pleats is to simple. Looking at the Luttrell Psalter the black pattern is very complex, with many geometric shapes. Can you really achieve that with only the pleats?

  3. This sounds like something worth trying out! Somewhere I also remember reading it being interpreted as a combination of smocking and embroidery. (as far as I remember they didn’t say what kind of embroidery)

    This got me thinking about the threads: The thread used for smocking would be linen, I guess. This lead to thoughts on the availability of black linen thread. There are all these opinions on the availability of dyed linen in the age of the Luttrell Psalter, how well the dyes took to the linen fabric and whether linen was dyed at all or was in dyed as a thread or as fabric. I’ve been looking a bit for examples of dyed linen thread and found just one mention of red linen thread (from the Great Wardrobe). (Very frustrating.)Any other leads on linen thread?

    Silk would definately have been available in black, but tha would have been a bit too posh for an apron… 😉

    All in all, what a great project and a subject for research!

  4. I know of cases were linen has been dyed red or blue but I’m not sure about thread. Will definately look into that.
    Another thought that just cross my mind is wool thread. Isn’t that used in early embriodery? And wool would be easy to dye.
    I’m still thinking about the silk thread though, do we know the prize on silk thread in the 14th century?

  5. Very nice indeed. I also made my first smock apron to small…the my blog…then i gave it to my brothers girlfriend. So I´m now hoping to find time soon to make one for my self. It is great blog that you have and keep up the good work!

  6. Thank you! 🙂
    Small smocks seems to be a common thing here. I wonder if there are a lot of small waisted women who are getting aprons at gifts? 😉

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