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This tutorial is an extract from Modern Smocking part 1 written by Debbie Shore and Published by Vivebooks.  This book is one of 2 books exploring Modern Smocking techniques through tutorials, videos and projects.

How to do Arrow Smocking - by Debbie Shore author of Modern Smocking 

1. Mark your grid and draw on the diagonal lines as shown on the Arrows grid (download it here). This is a three-point pattern, referring to the three points of the 'v' shape made by the diagonal lines.

2. Take a strong thread of the same colour as your fabric and pick up one end of the diagonal line of your pattern. Overstitch a couple of times then loop your thread around the needle to make a knot, and pull tight.

Tip - See this video by Debbie to help guide you.

3. Take your needle to the opposite end of the diagonal line and pick up a small stitch.

    How to do arrow hand smocking

Make a knot then go to the other end of the diagonal line and make a small stitch

4. Take the thread back through the starting end of the diagonal and pull the two ends together. Secure with a knot.

smocking patterns - Debbie Shore book  

Step 4: Take the thread back to the start, pull tight and secure with a knot


5. From here go to the end of the second diagonal and pick up a small stitch.  Return to the first point, pull tight, overstitch a couple of times and secure with a knot.

Smocking techniques - arrow smocking

Step 5: Complete the second diagonal, pull tight and secure with a knot

6. Move across to the beginning of the next diagonal line and knot the thread without pulling it tight. This is the ‘slack’ stitch. On the photo above right you can see the slack thread in the gap.

 Hand smocking techniques

Step 6: Making the 'slack' stitch

7. Repeat the stitching from Step 3, and continue until the entire grid has been completed. Turn your work over after every few squares to make sure the pattern is even. You’ll see straight away if a mistake has    been made, but don't worry if you do find one.   Your stitching and knotting should be so tight that the relevant area can be unpicked and re-stitched without affecting the surrounding stitches.

How to do smocking 

Step 7: Repeat the stitching pattern from Step 3


Learn how to do smocking Arrow smockng from the front

Starting the third row

The front of Arrows after three rows

Canadian smocking tutorials - Arrow Smocking

For ideas of what to make with your smocked fabric, and for other smocking techniques take a look at Modern Smocking Parts 1 and 2.   The books are e-books which can be downloaded (from Vivebooks only) or bought on CD. They are pdf format with embedded video, so are compatible with all computers and tablets, and the pages/grids can be printed on your home printer. The Vivebooks website gives information on downloading and viewing the books and see their FAQ for other information.

Below is a collage of some of the projects you'll find in the Modern Smocking books.

Smockng techniques and tutorials

All images and text © Vive Books and Debbie Shore