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.


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.