Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Technique - Lattice Smocking

As I mentioned in my earlier blog post, I started a pair of pants last September and I wanted to use lattice smocking on the hem. I had first seen this treatment last spring used on some tops in Macy's. Then kbenco used it on a top and posted a tutorial. Being a visual learner, I watched several videos on youtube and made some samples. It seemed very complicated, at first, but it's actually not that hard.

You sew the smocking stitches on the wrong side of the fabric. You need to create a grid - a striped fabric can help with this. I used my large Olfa ruler and an orange Frixion pen to draw the grid and the diagonal lines. The drawing won't show on the front, but the lines can be removed by steaming or washing the completed garment.

You can see my samples below. I took photos after one, two and three rows of smocking. I decided that I wanted three rows on my pants. I made my sample the same width as the pant leg so I could confirm that I could comfortably put my foot through the sample and that it would be comfortable to wear. The smocked area has some "give" but is not stretchy.

One row of lattice smocking

Two rows of lattice smocking

Three rows of lattice smocking

I measured the pant leg of the Loes Hinse Oxford and, for my size, I was able to make a 1" grid 20 squares wide, from inseam to inseam. You need an even number of columns for the smocking to work properly in a continuous round. The Oxford is drafted with 3/8" seam allowances, so I started and ended the grid lines 3/8" in from either raw edge.

Each row of lattice smocking requires 2 grid rows, so I created the grid with 6 rows, for 3 finished rows of smocking.

After cutting out the pants, I used the Frixion pens to draw the grid on the wrong side. I then constructed the pants. When sewing the inseam, the first and last lines of the grid are sewn together at 3/8". I then turned the pants inside out, and sewed the smocked pattern. Where there is a diagonal line, you draw those opposite points together and secure them with a knot.

Here is a video that shows the stitch pretty clearly:

Once you get into a rhythm, it goes pretty quickly.

If you do any interesting garment projects with lattice smocking, I'd love to hear about it! I still plan to make a longer version of this pant with the same effect.

Loes Hinse Linen Pants with Smocked Hem

I seem to be flailing around a bit lately, sewing-wise. I have been developing a stable of tried and true patterns, which is great. Most of them are Style Arc patterns, which have a fabulous fit. This has allowed me to start focusing more on design details and morphing the patterns into other designs.

So, what is my problem? I don't know. Maybe I am getting bored? Or maybe this just a regular mojo cycle - we all know how that goes. Am I confused by my style, resulting in Hamlet-like indecision? Or am I just frustrated that I often can't sew what I really want, because it won't work on my boobular figure? Maybe I just have too many clothes? (Though I have purged the closet.) I can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe it's a bit of all of the above.

At any rate, it's been hard to settle on a project.

I actually started this project in early September. I know that because I started a blog post at the time and it had the time stamp of Sept 6th, 2011. I was very taken with lattice smocking, also called Canadian smocking, which I had seen a season before on some tops in Macy's. Then kbenco used it on a top and wrote a tutorial.

Being a visual learner, I watched various youtube videos and made some samples. I decided to use the detail on a pants hem. Because I wanted as few seams as possible, I used the Loes Hinse Oxfords, which are the best fitting no-seam pants pattern I have.

The fabric is 100% linen in grey with a thin cream stripe, from Fabrix. Using a stripe makes it a bit easier to create the grid you need for the smocking. I plan to write another post with a bit more detail on how I achieved the effect.

The reason this project went into the UFO closet for six months is that, after smocking one leg, I wasn't pleased. I wanted the smocking closer to the ankle and knew that if I'd tried to remove it to make it lower, the fabric would show damage. Then, I recently decided to pull them out and try them on again. And now I love the capri length! Just the thing for summer. If I ever experience summer weather, that is. :)

Blog post: Lattice Technique.

And speaking of Loes Hinse. This last weekend I was finally able to visit her store in Carmel. I had seen her speak a couple times, once at Artistry in Fashion and once at PenWAG, and had talked to her once about using her patterns with my bustline, but it was fun to descend on her store with four sewing friends. She had been warned that our group was in the area, so she brought some fabrics and patterns to her shop, which is so small that she doesn't usually have them available.

Rita and Pat, excited to be in Carmel and visiting Loes.

Despite the pouring rain, she was our first stop in Carmel. I helped her bring her fabric from her car, requiring two trips through puddles, but we were determined. (And, besides, my friend Sue volunteered me for the task. ;) ) We had a lot of fun groping her RTW clothing, in that way that sewists do, and trying her garments on.

We made a mess!

Dorothy trying on one of Loes's jackets. The fabric in this is so interesting. Loes calls it her "feather" fabric. It's kind of like a faux fur, but it's not made with regular fur-like fur, but with these thin sheets of ... not sure what, but it had a sort of feathery effect. It reminded me of thin sheets of shale... in fabric form. Loes says you can buy the fabric on the Casual Elegance site, though I haven't looked.

All I bought was a wonderful striped rayon knit fabric. I was quite restrained. I can't say the same of my compatriots. :)

'Twas a fun outing! I can also recommend the shop Findings, which carries vintage trims and buttons and a few fabrics, and Pacific Rim, which had fabulous, fabulous clothing.