HNW - English smocking

Lynn Downward ldownward at
Fri Jan 19 08:53:44 PST 2001

Thank you Kathryn.  Your information helps.  And thank you for the list of
books to search for.  I've collected Shire Albums for other historic
studies, and I find them an excellent overview.  I've got one on sheep, one
on linen, one on jet jewelry, and a couple of others that I simply can't
remember right now.  My husband has two or three about the Victorian
military and their medals.  I have found them well-illustrated and quite

Not connected to Shire Publications; I'm in the US, they're in the UK.
Just a happy reader.

>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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