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Minerva CraftsThis is the final article in a series of projects and techniques on hand embroidery designed by Little Miss Fancy Frocks, the dynamic mother and daughter duo who lovingly create handcrafted clothing for adults and children. Visit their Facebook page here.

 The series is sponsored by Minerva Crafts, suppliers of all your embroidery requirements.



Hand Smocked Cushion Project

Sew a hand smocked cushion


Make this lovely smocked cushion. If you are a beginner to smocking this is a perfect start. One smocking stitch is used to make a small sample which is applied to fabric and edged with lace and ribbon. A zip is not required as it has a pillow case opening on the back of the cushion. We used a 1cm square checked fabric.


You will need...

Supplies for smocking

 65cm of 1cm checked fabric (115cm wide)

 1.7 metres of white double edged lace to thread a ribbon through

1.7 metres of 6mm orange satin ribbon

DMC stranded thread 744 (lemon)

DMC stranded thread 725 (orange)

I cushion pad 30cm x 25cm (12 inches x 10 inches)

 You will also need a sewing machine, a pair of scissors, sewing thread and a needle for embroidery (with a sharp point and an eye large enough to take the embroidery thread).



 From the 65cm fabric cut 2 pieces: 

Cushion cover – 65cm x 33cm

Smocking sample – 18cm x 40cm


Smocking smaple

Start with a knot and work a row of running stitches along the squares in a straight line.  Pick up a small amount of fabric either side of each square. Make sure your stitches line up vertically because they will form the required pleats.

Tacking for smocking

Work eight rows of running stitch, omitting alternate rows.


Gathering threads for smocking

Pull the threads in pairs to gather the fabric.


Securing gathered threads

To secure the ends of the threads wrap around a pin in a figure of eight.


Learn to smock

We used four threads of stranded cotton throughout. Thread the yarn through the fabric until you reach the first pleat.

Working outline stitch

Take your thread over two pleats and take your needle back under one pleat, allowing your needle to slant slightly.

Working outline stitch

Continue working to the right over two pleats and back under one pleat until the top row is complete. The thread is completed with a few running stitches worked in the same way the row began.


Completing the outline rows in smocking for a cushion

 Complete the rows as indicated in lemon and orange.

Marking a design for smocking

Wave stitch uses outline stitch to form a zig-zag pattern. If you find it difficult to estimate the position of the stitches you can use an erasable pen to guide your stitches.

Working wave stitch

The first stitch covers two pleats and the needle goes back one pleat and resurfaces above the first stitch in preparation for the second stitch.

Detail of wave stitch

Five stitches form the zig-zag. Work upwards diagonally for five stitches and then downwards diagonally for five stitches. The last stitch of each diagonal is also the first stitch of the next diagonal.


Wave Stitch completed

A completed row.

Complete further rows of wave stitch in lemon and orange.


Attaching a piece of smocking

 Take out the tacking stitches and place the smocked panel onto the centre of the main cushion piece. The panel can be stretched a little and pinned in place.

Thread the ribbon through the lace and pin in place covering the edges of the smocked panel.

Machine stitch the panel in place at the outer edges of the lace.


Close up of hand smocked panel


Add lace to smocked project

Place a second row of lace and ribbon 4cm away from the first row and machine stitch in place.


Finish a cushion cover

On the two backing pieces, turn under each of the short sides by 2cm and press in place. Turn again 2.5cm and press in place to form a double hem. Machine both sides of the hem to hold securely in place.

Making an envelope back

 With wrong sides face up, place the back pieces on top of each other so that they overlap (approximately 4.5cm). Place face down on top of the smocked front piece. Ensure the smocking insert lies in the centre of the cushion. Pin the top and bottom edges and machine in place.  The resulting oblong should measure 30cm x 25cm (12 inches x 10 inches) plus seam allowances of 1.5 cm at the top and bottom of the oblong. Turn the cushion right sides out and insert the cushion pad.


Finished smocked cushion project


Series on how to do hand embroidery