HNW - English smocking

Mike Newell 72123.411 at
Fri Jan 19 07:30:38 PST 2001

Dear Lynn:

I have a small collection of books on English smocking, and never got
around to doing more than cutting out the linen pieces and working one or
two pieces. The Armes book is rather nice and I recall I had to send away
for it specially (this was in the late 1970's). I had a roommate then  who
was doing a smock, and she had this book. It turned me on to the whole idea
of a smock. I went to England in 1980 and I accumulated a few books there,
some here in the US, then never got around to getting further than two

< I understand that the "tubes" are the pleats made by the uniform gathered
stitches, but what are the "reeds"?  "It is important that
in making up a smock the reeds should be kept true into the
collar,shoulder-straps and wrist-bands.">

If I recall properly, the reeds mean the stroked gathers. American smocking
(when I was young) was done by first ironing a transfer of gridded dots on
the fabric.  You would take a needle and pick up the dots here and there,
and that made the patten. English smocking is done by first running lots of
gathering stitches, then pulling up and stroking the gathers into reeds,
*then* the pattern is embroidered over the pre-gathering. Someone please
correct me if I'm in error here.

My little collection of books are:

Alice Armes (as per your message)

Hall, Maggie "Smocks" (Shire Album #46) Shire Pubn. Ltd, 1979  ISBN

Nichols, Marian, "Smocks in the Luton Museum" Borough of Luton Museum &A rt
Galley, UK, 1980
        ISBN  0-907106-00-5

Cave, Oeone, "Traditional Smocks and Smocking", Mills & Boon, L td.,
London, 1979  ISBN 0-263-06408-5

Marshall, Beverly "Smocks and Smocking", Van Nostrand Rheinhold, NY 1981 
ISBN  0-442-28269-9

Hart,. Natalie, "English Peasant Smocks", private press, 1973

Evans, Ruby, "Embroidery from Traditional English Patterns", BT Batsford,
London, 1971, ISBN? 7134-2649-7
        Library of Congress # 75-131433, Branford SBN  8231-4026-1

I find the Natalie Hart book puzzling -- it has photos (some courtesy of
the Metropolitan Museum of Art)  yet no publishing information (except the
date) is anywhere in the book. I dimly recall ordering it via
Mechanicsville, PA many years ago, but I never had any  luck tracking down
another copy. Pity-- it's a nice book.

Hope this is helpful.

SCA: Kathryn Goodwyn
"too many centuries....too little time"
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