Bitten by the smocking bug

Lately I've become a bit obsessed with smocking.  If you follow me on Instagram you've probably realised that.

I worked out the Eloise Gathered Top PDF Pattern lends itself rather well to smocking.

Smock top-08

I added about 8 inches to the width of the front pattern piece, so there's lots of fabric to smock.

Last week I visited Amitie, my favourite fabric shop, and picked up a few new fabrics, including one of Anna Maria Horner's woven yarn dyes.

Smock top-01

This probably isn't the sort of fabric I would normally use in dressmaking, but when you add the smocking element, I couldn't resist it.

Smock top-05

There was a bit of trial and error with this top.  I attached the neck binding three times before I was happy with it.

Smock top-03

I have been Pinning lovely images of smocked tops on Pinterest and getting inspired.

Smock top-07

This is a long sleeved raglan top with sleeve ends gathered into a cuff. I think it will be cute over a little denim skirt and tights this winter.

Smock top-06

Adelaide has a fuscia coloured Jacadi cardigan that goes perfectly with it.

Henri in the studio

I had company in the studio this afternoon.  Henri and I passed a lovely couple of hours in the attic with the sun streaming in. He was doing some sketching in a sunny spot.  The perfect Sunday afternoon.

An upcoming pattern for little ones

I stayed up way too late last night happily engrossed in some embroidery.  It's been a long time since I've done any hand stitching. 

Bib detail 1

Fortunately my stitching didn't look too bad in the bright light of day.

Bib detail 3

I'm putting together a little pattern for what I like to call a "smock bib".

Smock bib

It's essentially a bib with sleeves.  I don't know about you, but I found my babies' sleeves always got covered in their food and their tops were often left with stained cuffs.  The Smock Bib is the answer to that dilemma. Ingenious no?

Smock bib detail

Just pop baby's arms into the sleeves and tie the bib at the back of the neck.

These are also a really fun project to use up small scraps of fabric with.  And as I have, you can have a lot of fun personalising and embellishing them.

Bib detail 2

This pattern will come in two sizes: 6 to 12 months, and 12 to 24 months.  Let's face it, by the time they're two, children shouldn't be getting food all over their sleeves so those sizes should see you through.

For those of you who make to sell at craft markets, this will be a pretty pattern with which to create some cute wares for you to sell don't you think?

Exquisite Japanese Embroidery

Recently I couldn't resist ordering a few craft books from Amazon Japan. One that I received, called "Stitch Diary of Four Seasons" is absolutely stunning.

Stitch Diary of Four Seasons

It features very pretty embroidery designs by the talented Japanese artist Kazuko Aoki.

Stitch diary of four seasons 1

I really must do more of this detailed sort of embroidery before my eyes age and I find it all too hard.

Stitch diary of four seasons 5

These images are just so cute they make me want to get stitching straight away.

Stitch diary of four seasons 3

You wouldn't want to touch this with hands straight from the potting shed.

Stitch diary of four seasons 4

The book includes these stunning wreaths - one for each season.

Stitch diary of four seasons 2

These are so unbelievably pretty.

Stitch diary of four seasons 7

What is even better is that, as always, there are instructions in the back.

Stitch diary of four seasons 8

I don't speak or read Japanese, but I can make out the initials DMC, and lots of numbers beside each element of the design, so I'm guessing these are thread colours. How fabulous. Then if you match up the Japanese characters to the same on the stitch glossary page, you know what stitch to use.

Stitch diary of four seasons 6

There's just never enough time to do all these pretty projects.


Cross Stitch Initials

Hopefully these will grace our Christmas table tomorrow morning.  I have two more to do.

Personalised napkins 2

It's hard to tell in these night-time photos, but these napkins are a soft grey, sage green linen.  I picked them up at Williams Sonoma earlier this year.  I have done the cross stitch in the same colour - just one shade darker.

Personalised napkins

The alphabet pattern is from this book, purchased a few years ago.

There is one for each member of the family. 

Personalised napkins 3

I just have the "K" and the "T" to go.  Max and Tom are at a midnight Christmas Eve church service with Will's mother, the presents are under the tree, Father Christmas has already been to our house and the rest of the family is asleep.  

It's time for me to put the kettle on and get stitching.  Merry Christmas everyone!


I'm pondering what to do with this panel of smocking.


This has been hanging around my studio since before Adelaide was born.  I unearthed it while hunting for something else (time for a tidy-up perchance?).

I think a simple little sundress with ties at the shoulders might be the ticket.  Now I just need to find a spare hour to make it a reality.  2am is looking like the only window of opportunity this week.  I think this one might have to wait.

Monogram Embroidery

A while ago I posted about a monogrammed pillowcase I was working on.


I offered to email readers the instructions that I had written on this technique.  I fear I have lost a couple of recent commenter's email addresses and can't send on the instructions.  So I have uploaded the instructions to flickr.  For anyone who wants them, they can be found here.  The document is just legible if viewed in the large size.

Inspiring embroidery

This is the bodice of a little Bonpoint dress I bought for Adelaide in Paris earlier this year.

Dress bodice 1

I think she likes it - there are her eager little hands making a grab for it.

Dress bodice

I love the simplicity of this dress - the striking contrast of colours, and the straightforward cut of the dress.  

I'm off to pull out my embroidery pattern books.  I think I might spend this long weekend with embroidery hoop in hand.

A moving target

Goodness me, Adelaide is proving a wily photography subject.  She sees the camera come out and thinks it's time for a game of hide and seek.

Smocked dress

The only way to keep her still in this case was feed her some fruit cake, which she's clutching in her little fist out of frame.

Smocked dress1

She was pretty happy that hide and seek involved food today.

Smocked dress2

I made this dress five months before she was born.  It only occurred to me today that she has never worn it and will soon outgrow it.  So although we have nowhere special to go today, she is dressed for a party.

In the classroom

Today I have been invited into Tom's grade 2 classroom to lead an activity for the children.

They are doing a "unit of enquiry" on textiles.  As someone who supposedly knows a little bit about textiles, I've been asked to share my knowledge.  I'm feeling the pressure.


So I thought I'd keep it simple and have some fun with fabric glue, vlisofix, 'heat n'bond'.  The teacher has some little embroidery frames for them, so I'm going to show them how to do a little framed something with a collage of fabric that they can embellish if they choose.  I figured an iron was a little friendlier than needles and threads for 8 year olds, and children like to cut and paste, no.

Can you tell I'm feeling out of my depth?  Second graders intimidate me more than adults in this context.

More creative spaces on Kootoyou.

Post Script:  I am exhausted.   After leading a one hour activity I was ready for a cup of tea and a lie down.  It was go, go, go; fabric was everywhere, 20 little faces queuing up with questions. The children seemed to enjoy it, and as Kirsten said in the comments, I was very impressed by their creative output.

A little hand stitching

When Adelaide was born, one of my favourite gifts for her was a pretty little square towel with a corner section on it that you could use as a hood.

Baby gift

I happened across the same type of towel at Marche St Pierre in Paris.  They had the little band of cross stitch braid across the hood or corner.  I bought a couple as future baby gifts.

A friend of mine has had her fourth child, so I am cross stitching the baby's name across the corner.  It will go in a parcel with a few Townmouse bodysuits.

More creative endeavours at Kootoyou.

Flickr on the iPad

Since owning an iPad, I have spent a lot more time on Flickr.  Images look so beautiful on the screen.  I've been discovering lots of lovely new Flickr members and their inspiring images.  My favourites folder has grown considerably.  Here are some things I'm admiring lately.


1. Patchwork print vintage table cloth close up, 2. the view from where i sit (skipping lily), 3. in a world full of dots, 4. Where We Live 2, 5. Untitled, 6. linen and patchwork baby bib, 7. fuchsia seas quilt, 8. Sunburst, 9. Basking In The Sun ~ Munki Pears, 10. more pincushions, 11. baby quilt beginnings, 12. Hour Glass Quilt, 13. Cotton Paint Birdy, 14. quilting a queen, 15. Pink circles for Jennie, 16. squishyquilt

And I love my grey felt iPad cover that I bought here.

IPad sleeve 

At a snail's pace

One type of embroidery I haven't done a lot of since having children is monogram embroidery.  Simply because it is incredibly time consuming.  One letter may take 20 or 30 hours of painstakingly exact stitching.  But after admiring the many beautiful examples of the work in the antique markets of Paris and Montsoreau, I've been inspired to get out my Broder thread once again.


I'm making a little pillow with Adelaide's initials.  It will go with the lovely pale pink rib woolen cot blanket I recently bought her.

Monogram template

This is the design I am doing.  It comes from this book, which I picked up in Mercerie St Michel in rue Charles Nodier, Montmartre.  I was a little rusty on this type of work; I'm hoping my stitching will improve.  I might find myself unpicking this first section. 

To remind myself what to do, I had to refer to an instruction sheet that I wrote up for the classes I used to teach in monogramming.  If anyone would like a copy of the instructions, please leave a comment.  I'm happy to email it to you.