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Instructions for Smocked Gingham

Gingham fabric lends itself well to smocking.
Purple and pink gingham background image by Sophia Winters from Fotolia.com

Gingham fabric is ideal for smocking. The combination of nostalgic gingham with traditional needlework techniques can help you create an old-timey feel.


Anglo-Saxon in origin, the term "smock" used to refer to the loose shirts worn by farm workers. The tops of these shirts were often gathered; over time, this gathering developed into a form of decorative needlework.

Gingham derives from a Malay word, "ging-gang," and originally meant a striped fabric. It quickly came to refer to the check fabric we know today. In the past gingham was made of cotton yarn that had been dyed before weaving. Now it typically is made from cotton and man-made fibers.

Gingham and Smocking

Gingham's tiny squares lend themselves well to smocking. The fabric can be pleated along the pattern, and the threads used to create the smocked effect can be chosen to complement the colors of the gingham cloth.


When smocking with gingham, it's a good idea to pleat by hand rather than using a pleater (a machine that pleats the fabric). You can line your pleats up more closely to the pattern of the fabric, creating a more pleasing effect.

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