Add beautiful detail with elegant hand smocking

So, you’ve created a beautiful garment or item on your sewing machine, but you’d like to give it a few extra touches to make it even more special – maybe a touch of smocking is just what it needs! Here’s a quick guide to this delicate and elegant art from Empisal, the sewing machine specialists.

What is smocking?

This is embroidery that is crafted onto material that has been pleated. It’s an ancient craft with roots dating back to the Middle Ages and is ideal for blouses, dresses, shirts and any number of decorative items.

Materials

Although almost any material can be used for smocking, you will need a pleating machine in order to evenly gather pleats. The best material should be lightweight or natural fibre, although silk will not smock well. You can also buy iron-on transfer dots which you then gather using an ordinary running stitch and pull tight to pleat the material.

For the embroidery, you will need cotton or silk thread and a crewel embroidery needle.

Common smocking stitches and patterns

This form of embroidery is as flexible as it is elegant, so you can make almost any shape or pattern, from sprays of flowers using geometric smocking techniques to entire pictures that use a stacked cable stitch technique! Common stitches include stem, outline, weave, cable flowerette, honeycomb, trellis, cable and smocker’s knot.

Speak to Empisal for the best quality sewing machines in South Africa

At Empisal, we’ve been providing high quality, affordable sewing machines, sewing kits, overlockers, haberdashery products and ironing equipment to South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa for over 35 years. Ideal for anyone who wants to learn to sew as well as accomplished crafters and professionals, our machines and equipment are reliable, precise and durable.

For more information on our sewing machines and products, please contact us today.

A guide to pattern grading

Pattern grading is essentially all about how to take a single size pattern and make it bigger or smaller in order to fit a different sized figure. This is especially important in vintage clothing patterns where the pattern was made in very limited sizes and your own size may not be available at all. While it sounds simple, it’s much more complicated than just adding a few centimetres onto your current pattern! Here’s a quick and easy guide to this valuable process from Empisal, leaders in sewing machine technology.

The cut and spread method

This is the easiest method by far – all you need is a ruler, tracing paper, measuring tape, pen, scissors and your pattern.

Step One: Trace the pattern out onto tracing paper. This way, you will be able to keep your original pattern intact.

Step Two: Compare the original size to the size you want to achieve and note down the difference. For example, if the waist is say 90cm and you want a 100cm waist, the difference is 10cm. Do this for each and every measurement.

Step Three: Place horizontal and vertical lines on your traced out pattern in a grid marking out where the pattern is going to increase or decrease and cut along those lines.

Step Four: Divide the difference by each piece of the pattern, adding equal amounts to each side. For example, if you have a 4cm difference, you will add 2cm to the front and back. Two vertical cuts with need 1/2cm between the pieces and, as a general rule, horizontal cuts need 1/2cm as well. Once your pattern is spread out properly, you’ll have the correct size pieces.

Step Five: Pin your new outline onto a new sheet of tracing paper and redraw your pattern, giving you a whole new pattern to sew from!

grading

Empisal – Sewing machines you can trust

At Empisal, we’ve been providing high quality, affordable sewing machines, sewing kits, overlockers, haberdashery products and ironing equipment to South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa for over 35 years. Ideal for anyone who wants to learn to sew as well as accomplished crafters and professionals, our machines and equipment are reliable, precise and durable.

For more information on our sewing machines and products, please contact us today.