Add a smocked insert to the Harper bubble for your next summer smocking project. The Harper baby bubble is such a versatile pattern, and we couldn’t wait to try it with smocking. Try it with geometric or with picture smocking. We recommend smocking 5-6 rows for this project.
1. Cut a piece of tracing paper big enough to trace entire front bodice. Fold tracing paper in half, and trace front bodice piece on to tracing paper. Keeping paper folded, cut out pattern piece following outline. Unfold tracing paper, and now you have entire front bodice piece.
2. For the front bodice, cut a block of fabric the same height and width of your bodice front piece made in previous step. Do not cut out the bodice front yet.
3. Cut out the remaining pieces according to the instructions.
Before step #1, you need to make your front bodice piece detailed below.
1. For lightweight fabrics such as lawn, we recommend using a lightweight fusible interfacing to add stability. Fuse interfacing to wrong side of the bodice block according to manufacturer’s directions.
2. Tie off your pleated insert to the width of your bodice block. To do this, first pull the pleater threads out 1/4” (2-3 pleats) from each side seam. Pin one side of your insert down to an ironing board or soft surface, and tie the pleater threads together 2-3 at a time. Stretch the insert to the width of your bodice block, which is the widest part of the bodice. Pin the other side of the insert keeping both sides as straight as possible. On the other side, tie the pleater threads together 2-3 at a time. Unpin from board. Mark the center of the insertion if needed.
3. Smock 5-6 rows on your insert. We used Ellen McCarn’s Little Prince and Princess smocking design.
4. Block insert by pinning to ironing board to correct width, stretching if needed. Steam fabric using an iron 1” above the fabric. Do not place iron directly on smocking. Allow smocking to completely dry before removing from ironing board.
5. Cut two pieces of piping the width of the insert, and mark the center of the piping. Place the piping on the insert just above the top row of smocking and the other piece just below the bottom row of smocking matching center marks. Use Wonder Tape to help reposition the piping to the perfect place.
Note: In our images, you will see we had to cut some pleating threads prior to sewing together. It is very helpful to not cut your pleater threads until the insertion has been sewn into the garment. Many times we smock inserts prior to knowing the exact project, so we have to adjust our plan to make it work!
6. Stitch piping to insert using corded piping foot and stitching on top of the stitching on the piping. It is helpful to use a contrasting thread in your bobbin. Trim top of insert with 1/4” seam allowance and bottom edge with 1/2” seam allowance.
7. Place bodice block on insert with right sides together matching bottom raw edge of block with raw edge of top piping. In our pictures, we smocked on the bottom of the insert and will cut off the excess, so make sure to attach your block to the top of your smocking. Pin in place or use Wonder Tape. Stitch together following the visible stitching line on the wrong side of the insert fabric. Press block and seam allowance away from insert.
8. Place bodice front pattern piece on top of insert and block, aligning the bottom edge of the insert with the pattern piece. Pin in place or trace the piece onto the fabric. Cut out your front bodice piece. Remove pleater threads.
9. Now you can begin with Step #1, and continue through Step #25.
10. Follow Step #26, but you will not be able to press insert seam allowance towards bodice. To press the back bodice seam allowance away from bubble, clip the back bodice seam allowance at the side seam.
11. For Step #27, turn up the bottom edge of the bodice lining. Topstitch fold in place. Tack bodice lining to bubble at side seams.
12. Continue with remainder of instructions.
Download the printable pdf instructions here: