Thanks for your comments on my Autumn Banner project, Barbara, and to answer your question about smocking - it's quite easy! If you've done much surface embroidery, you're already familiar with the basic smocking stitches and if you've done much cross-stitching on linen, you're used to counting. Now just transfer those skills to embroidering on top of pleats and you're smocking! Of course, one must first get those pleats into the fabric. Years back, women ironed on dots to their fabric, then went through the dots with a needle and thread to gather the fabric. Now we have a nifty little machine that gathers up the required number of rows all at once. Here's a photo of my pleater:
My pleater is sitting on top of a pleater box that contains about 24 spools of quilting thread so that I don't have to cut lengths of thread for each needle. The thread is there and ready for me and I just cut the threads when I'm done pleating. You can see the needles coming out of the metal rods, they gather up the fabric. There is also a small dowel there that I roll up my fabric onto before pleating it.
I learned smocking first about 20 years ago when my oldest daughter was small. I didn't do much with it then because the sewing machine I had drove me crazy and we didn't have the budget to get another one - actually I thought I was the problem. My family grew and I didn't have time to bother with sewing until 7 years ago when my last child was about one (another daughter) and I really wanted to create some beautiful little dresses for her. I bought a good sewing machine, took another class, then joined the local Smocking Arts Guild. Through the guild I've learned so many new skills and gained a lot of confidence. There is also inspiration out there in the Sew Beautiful, Creative Needle, and Australian Smocking and Embroidery magazines.
So far on this latest smocking project, I've only just traced off the pattern onto paper. Next I need to cut the fabric, but I don't think I'm going to get to it until next week as we're heading off to the Seattle area in the morning for our nephew's wedding on Saturday. As I progress, I'll take pictures :)
I've also been trying to catch up on the laundry. I went through my oldest sons' room earlier this week and got all the dirty laundry that has been piling up in the corners, around the mattresses, in the closet, under bookcases, etc. I'd been threatening this for quite awhile and since it didn't get done to my satisfaction, Mom descended and ripped the room apart!! When they got home, they finished the cleaning. DH and I bought a new closet system for them as the old one was falling apart and was part of the problem. Amazing how the odor cleared out of there!!