Not only does a little smocking add a touch of softness to the front of Frannie or Frannie Baby, it creates extra fullness in the front. This is a great little project for smocking novices with a geometric design or experts with a picture smocking design. You will have 32 pleats and 5-7 rows, depending on your side (use less rows for a smaller size) for your smocking design.
1. Use a pencil, and retrace the front Frannie dress pattern piece, leaving 4” of tracing paper beyond the center front.
2. Measure 3” beyond the “place on fold line” and draw a line parallel to the center front. Extend neckline and hem to new line by drawing a straight line.
3. Measure 1” to the left of the center front line and draw a line 3 ½” long. This will be the line that you will use when pulling out the pleater threads, and is the stop smocking line. Erase the original center front line to avoid confusion.
4. Place the new pattern piece on the fabric and cut 1 front on the fold. Cut the back as directed in the pattern. Transfer stop smocking lines to the dress.
5. On the dress front fabric, use a ruler and fabric pen to draw a line across the entire dress front ¼” below the neckline. Measure down another 3” and draw a parallel line across the entire dress front. These are you guides for pleating.
6. Pleat 7-9 rows across the dress front, use your lines as a guide. Pull out the threads at the stop smocking line and tie the threads 2-3 at a time on one side. Pull up the threads on the other side so that the pleated area measures 2” across.
7. Smock design. Top and bottom are holding threads – do not smock on them. Depending on the design, you may need to back smock.
8. Continue with the Frannie or Frannie Baby instructions. Remove pleater threads after neckline is sewn.
Inspired and adapted from,