I got a call about a year ago (yes, I'm just now writing about it) to recreate a vintage smocked dress from the 50's. The most interesting part about the recreated dress....it was to be used as a costume on the broadway stage!
I was asked not to mention the name of the production due to copyright infringement, however, just think Southern...None of the costume seamstresses knew how to smock! The costume designer browsed through Etsy and found my newly opened shop and the rest is history! I received a package containing the dress and enough silk taffeta and floss to complete the insert for a size 5 dress.
Due to Hurricane Sandy, the costumers were behind on their schedules for opening night so I agreed to complete it and return as quickly as possible.
I loved working with the silk taffeta and pleating it was a dream!
Next I blocked the piece to fit the yoke of the vintage dress I'd been given. Since I was working with a gingham, it was easy to make sure everything stayed lined up by following the horizontal lines. This is where things can look "wonky" if not pleated straight. "Wonky" pleating will cause the gingham lines to appear distorted (they even make my eyes hurt).
Now the fun part! SMOCKING!!!! I scanned the vintage dress so I'd have a makeshift "template" that I could write on and compare to my newly pleated and blocked piece.
The vintage pink gingham dress had been designed to have the pleats "puff" between rows which required less smocking time (but more cuddly time for the Maltese babies).
Finally, the finished insert, ready to be shipped back to NYC.
I never found any pictures with the costume on a little actress :( but thought with holidays coming up it might inspire someone to use an older, vintage garment to create a special Christmas dress. Don't be afraid of taffeta or silk dupioni! I loved smocking on it and hope to recreate more garments in the future.
Sew Happy Stitches!