Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Module 5 - Chapter 6 - Tucks. Pleats & Gathers

Experiments with different ways of stitching tucks into fabric.




Circular pattern tucks also look very exciting from the back.

Tucks stitched randomly from the front & the back of the fabric. Front and back images shown.


Tucks stitched on the curve. Front & back views shown. This would also be very exciting if stitched in a spiral.

Pin tucks overlapped, then tucked again with basic tucks pressed into box pleat. Tucked again in the other direction with basic tucks which were then stuffed, creating a very heavy, linear texture.

Tucks pressed flat, then tucks stitched at angles from behind, creating staggered lines.

Hand 'smocking'. This gives a lovely, neat, regular gathered pattern.
Shirring elastic threaded into the bobbin gives a much more irregular pattern. If the lines of stitching were less straight/more wobbly, I think this would give an even more randomly gathered effect.
Zig zag stitching over lengths of wire. I love this effect. The wire allows you to control the direction of the gathers.

Gathering in a zig zag pattern. I used the controlled, measured smocking technique for this which gives a lovely rippled water effect. I really like the control, regularity & uniform structure of this, but as I am basing this project on natural tree bark texture, I think a less measured, more random smocking stitches might give a more suitable result.

Again using the measured smocking stich technique of gathering, I stitched gathering threads at right angles, at regular intervals. I love the crumpled effect, but once again, because of the measured control, all 'ruffles' are of the same height. Such control is rarely seen in nature.

Swirly lines were machined gathered using the longest stitch on my machine.  I also adjusted the bobbin tension very slightly to loosen the bottom thread, making it easier to pull up the top thread to form the gathers. As this stitching was not so controlled it gave a much more random effect of big and little 'mushrooms'.

Machine stitched diagonal lines, randomly spaced were gathered giving a lovely nobbly irregular pattern.

Wavy lines of hand gathering were pulled up to create straight rows of ripples. This result surprised me, I expected a much more rippled result, similar to 050612.

Different sized spirals were hand gathered and pulled up to create the most amazing, twisted, shell like formation.

I could not do a collection of smocking/gathering samples without attempting Michele Carragher's Dragonscale from Game of Thrones. This uses North American Smocking which involves pulling up a selection of points on a gathering grid and securing with a stitch. This was great fun to do. It was then heavily pressed, according to Michele's instructions, to give the effect of dragonscale!

Tiny pebbles were embedded into cotton scrim with elastic bands. This gave lovely soft 'puffs' of fabric between the pebbles. Random threads had been withdrawn from the scrim first. This resulted in a decayed, distressed, worn effect.

Smocking hand stitched to hold and decorate gathers. I love the way the hand stitching controls the position of the gathers enabling the fanned effect.

I loved Sian's sample in the workbook showing 'blocks of machine satin stitch to decorate and also apply this multiple 'gather' onto a new backing'. I used plastic bag, organza, scrim and plain poly cotton to create my own experiment. There is a marked contrast between the less stable fabrics (ie the scrim and the light-weight plastic) and the firmer poly cotton and organza. The first two form irregular, organic gathers, whilst the poly cotton and organza gathers are more rigid, linear, and defined.

Towards the end of this chapter of work, our Stitcher's group had a visit from Claire Muir, ( She makes the most amazing machine embroidered hats and fascinators. Co-incidentally, some of her hats were made using a smocking machine. On one of them, she deeply frayed an edge of the fabric after smocking. Another was made with row upon row of wired pin tucks. I was eager to have a go at both!




  1. These look fantastic Julia - you have managed to get so many different effects. It looks like you have had fun doing it too. I can't wait to get to that chapter.

  2. Gorgeous Julia! So many fabulous textures. x

  3. What great textures Julia. It looks like a lot of work but great fun