Classic Smocking

Recently a friend asked whether I knew where she could find the book, Classic Smocking, the Cheryl Lohmann Collection.  Little did she know, her question brought back great memories for me.  My husband bought this book for me as a birthday present a few years ago.  It is filled with beautiful smock plates, some of the best I have seen.

Yesterday Rachel wore one of the first smocked dresses I made several years ago (for her sister Lydia).  It is the Madeleine Rose plate, and the pattern is the Basic Yoke Dress by Ginger Snap Designs.  Lydia loved this dress and wore it as long as possible.  This (sadly) may be the last time Rachel (age 8) is able to wear it.


I read that long ago moms would intentionally make their children’s dresses ankle or mid-calf length and include a growth tuck so they could get as much wear as possible out of them.  Last summer I decided to try out the idea of letting down the growth tuck on the hem.  There was a permanent mark on the fabric from the folded tuck, so I ironed it and placed a decorative stitch with my Pfaff covering that mark.

The fabric was given to me by a friend.  I believe it is Imperial broadcloth, which is 65 percent Dacron and 35 percent Cotton.  While permanent press fabrics are attractive for their no-wrinkle characteristics, I prefer 100 percent cotton because it holds pleats far better and in the long run will last much longer.  If you could see closely (my apologies), you would see the pleats tend to “pop” a little with the poly/cotton blend.

In the picture below, Lydia is wearing the same dress in 2006.  Hannah in the middle is also wearing a dress made from a smock plate in Lohmann’s book, Abigail.  The pattern was also the Ginger Snap’s Basic Yoke Dress.  The fabric here is 100 percent cotton.  The pleats hold far better, and I believe this dress will be handed down to grandchildren someday.


Madeline is the shortest girl here, and she is wearing a ready-to-wear smocked dress.

The smock plate, Reagan Emily, is one still on my list to do.

Classic Smocking, the Cheryl Lohmann Collection is still available through Roxanne’s Heirlooms.


2 thoughts on “Classic Smocking

  1. Thank you for your note, Alison. Yes, an interesting characteristic about healthy kids is that their trunks do not change all that much during childhood; however, their height does increase more quickly. Something I didn’t pay attention to until I started creating smocked dresses for my girls. I love reading older sewing books and finding those gems of information.

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