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Smocking (below) on the front of an 1873–1875 silk dress from France (above)[n 1]

smock +‎ -ing.[1]



smocking (countable and uncountable, plural smockings)

  1. (sewing) An embroidery technique in which the fabric is gathered and then embroidered with decorative stitches to hold the gathers in place; the product of the use of this embroidery technique.
    • 1872, Atticus [pseudonym; A. Hewitson], “Fulwood Church”, in Our Country Churches & Chapels. Antiquarian, Historical, Ecclesiastical, and Critical Sketches, Preston, Lancashire: A. Hewitson, []; London: Simpkin, Marshall, and Co., OCLC 1034548212, page 19:
      Mr. Hudson [] preaches in his surplice. We see no reason why all clergymen should not do likewise. This donning and undonning, this white dressing and black smocking which one sees in so many churches, is a piece of stale nonsense; []
    • 1887, “Smocks and Smocking”, in The Illustrated Queen Almanac and Lady’s Calendar, London: The Queen Office, [], OCLC 5349321, page 39, column 2:
      Smocking forms an effective trimming for ladies' dresses, either as a waistcoat or yoke, and looks well for the crown of a small toque with a velvet brim. The great difficulty in smocking is to gather the material regularly, or the embroidery will look crooked.
    • 1916, “Smocking”, in The Dressmaker: A Complete Book on All Matters Connected with Sewing and Dressmaking [], 2nd revised and enlarged edition, New York, N.Y.; London: The Butterick Publishing Company, OCLC 2883294, page 29:
      Smocking is not in the least difficult once the method has been thoroughly grasped. For some reason it is much more popular in England than in the United States. [] Smocking done in colors on fine white batiste, silk mull, or nainsook makes pretty guimpes and dresses for children and very smart blouses for women.
    • 1917, Jane Fales, “Waists”, in Dressmaking: A Manual for Schools and Colleges, New York, N.Y.; Chicago, Ill.: Charles Scribner’s Sons, OCLC 1664300, part 3 (Dressmaking), page 318:
      Such decoration should be chosen for these as can be designed to follow the threads of the material; that is, tucks, plaits, shirrings, and smockings.
    • 1985, Allyne S. Holland, “Smocking Traditions”, in Treasury of Smocking Designs (Dover Needlework Series), New York, N.Y.: Dover Publications, →ISBN, page 4:
      An English countryman of the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century would be amazed to see how smocking has changed today. The early traditional smock, with its geometric smocking and embroidered motifs, [] originally adorned the clothing of men who toiled in the fields, tended flocks of sheep, cut wood or led wagons or carts.
    • 1994, Ian Frazier, chapter 1, in Family, New York, N.Y.: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, →ISBN; republished New York, N.Y.: Picador USA; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002, →ISBN:
      Her stitching was fine and regular, her smocking came out even, and the plaids of her jackets met invisibly at the seams.

Related termsEdit




  1. present participle of smock


  1. ^ From the collection of the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, New York, USA.


Further readingEdit