Arrow Smocking Tutorial

Learn how to do hand smocking

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. 

1. Mark your grid and draw on the diagonal lines as shown on the Arrows grid (download the Arrow smocking grid). 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 the video below for a visual demonstration by Debbie to help guide you. 

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

Beginner's smocking guide


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

Learn how to smock with Debbie Shore

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. 

Arrow smocking free pattern

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.

Canadian smocking with pictures and video

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.

American smocking tutorial
Starting the third row
What does arrow smocking look like
The front of Arrows after three rows

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. 

Smocked pillows patterns

All images and text © Vive Books and Debbie Shore

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