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Fast & Easy Smocking on an Embroidery Machine

(Click to View All Images)

  • Pre-Pleated Smocked Panel (Available at www.marthapullen.com)
  • Smocking Design (Project design is available at www.marthapullen.com) This will need to be sized to fit the panel.
  • Floriani Template Tearaway®
  • Floriani Wet N Gone Tacky® (sticky water soluble stabilizer)
  • Floriani Embroidery Thread
  • Straight Pins
  • Wide Tooth Comb (optional)

  • Final Product: What You Will Create

    As most home sewers know, smocking is a centuries-old embroidery technique where a fabric is pleated and then embroidered with designs. In the past, it has been used to embellish clothing, home decorative items such as pillows, and even as framed artwork or wall hangings.

    While the finished piece may look sophisticated and difficult to do, with the help of some modern techniques and products, smocking is not difficult at all. This project walks you through the steps.

    This particular project gives you a jumpstart by using a pre-pleated insert to embroider. It is available on Martha Pullen’s Web site at www.marthapullen.com. You can choose any design you like to embroider. The design for this project was chosen from the Martha Pullen’s “Smocking In The Hoop” Machine Embroidery CD. The CD includes 42 beautiful smocking patterns and designs.

    Step 1:

    Preparing the Pleated Panel

    These first steps are very important so do not skip them!

    Lay the panel on your ironing board (right or side to be embroidered facing up) and straighten the pleats symmetrically. A great tool for this task is a wide tooth comb. Combing the pleats straightens them evenly and gently.

    As you get the pleats uniform, stick straight pins around the outer edges and pin to your ironing board. This will hold everything in place.

    Cut one piece of Floriani Wet N Gone Tacky® stabilizer one inch larger than the panel size.

    Peel away the protective paper which will expose the tacky side of the stabilizer.

    (Click Image to Enlarge)

    Step 2:

    Center and stick the Floriani Wet N Gone Tacky® over the pleated material. Smooth out any wrinkles.

    Remove the pins from around the outer edges of the pleated panel and set it aside.

    Step 3:

    Load the smocking design into your machine software.

    Load one piece of Template Tearaway® into your printer.

    Open your software and select the desired design.

    Print the smocking design. *Be sure that you have your software set to print crosshairs (centering marks) and the outer perimeter of the design.

    Step 4:
    Trim the Template Tearaway® to the line showing the outer perimeter of the design.

    Step 5:
    Peel back the protective paper on the Template Tearaway® which will expose the sticky surface.

    (Click Image to Enlarge)

    Step 6:

    Center and stick down the Template Tearaway® to the stabilized side of the panel. **The Template Tearaway® should be stuck to the Wet N Gone Tacky®.

    Set the panel aside.

    Step 7:

    Preparing the Hoop and Stitching The Design

    Place one layer of Floriani Wet N Gone Tacky® in the hoop with the paper side up.

    Step 8:
    Score the paper with a straight pin and peel it back to expose the sticky surface.

    Step 9:
    Stick the panel down to the hooped Wet N Gone Tacky®. Try to align the printed crosshairs on the Template Tearaway® with the center marks on your inner hoop as closely as possible.

    (Click Image to Enlarge)

    Step 10:

    Place the hoop on the machine.

    Lower the needle to make sure your panel is centered properly. If not, use the centering feature on your machine to move the hoop until the needle strikes the center marks of the Template Tearaway®.

    (Click Image to Enlarge)


    Step 11:
    Peel the Template Tearaway® off the surface of the panel and place it back onto the protective paper to use on another occasion.

    (Click Image to Enlarge)

    Step 12:
    Thread your machine with the proper color and stitch your design!

    (Click Image to Enlarge)

    Step 13:

    Removing the Wet N Gone Tacky ® Stabilizer

    Trim away as much of the excess stabilizer as possible.

    (Click Image to Enlarge)

    Step 14:
    Soak the panel in a bowl of room temperature water for one hour. **If the water in your home is not soft, add hair conditioner or water softener to the water.

    (Click Image to Enlarge)

    Step 15:

    Remove the panel from the soak and hold under room temperature running water to remove any excess adhesive and stabilizer.

    Roll the panel and squeeze out the excess water. Lay on a towel to dry.

    Once the panel is damp, lay it on a fluffed terry cloth towel and press. *Be sure to use your Floriani Press Cloth®!

    The panel is now ready to insert into a garment or home dec item!

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    Meet The Author: Kay Brooks
    Kay Brooks is co-owner of RNK Distributing, a distributor of Floriani products. Kay has been teaching sewing, quilting and embroidery for over 15 years and has a vast knowledge of various types of sewing/embroidery machines and techniques. Having owned her own Sewing Business that employed as many as 12 full time teachers, she has had the opportunity to glean her knowledge from some of the best! Kay’s new joint venture with Walter Floriani and Fred Lebow has lead to the creation of many new and unique stabilizers as well as other embroidery products for the sewing, quilting and embroidery industry.

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