I heard back from the lady who had never smocked before and was trying to pleat with traditionally spaced dots (as opposed to machine spaced dots).
Her work has truly impressed me and luckily she was willing to share her success with the rest of us.
|Close-up of tight pleating|
The fabric was dotted, not a seersucker as I thought. And fortunately the dots came up in a fairly straight line - not on a distracting angle or in globby splotches.
|Pleating pulled up tight to steam and set|
So to sharpen the hand pleated pleats, it is best to pull up the gathers as tight as you can, give them a shot of spray starch, a good bath of steam from your iron and leave them to dry overnight.
Do not press the pleats, just hold the steam iron over top of the pleats to give the lots of steam.
Doing this will define the pleats and make make the smocking (embroidery) easier. The gathering thread is on the very back of the pleats when hand pleated, not part way through as in machine pleating.
Here she has started the first row of her smocking. She writes that she now realizes that the matching green is perhaps not the best colour as her smocking doesn't show in contrast to the fabric.
Since the top of the sundress has been folded back to form a facing (eliminating the need to finish a raw edge) she needed to take a deeper stitch in each pleat to be sure to catch the second layer of fabric.
I suggested that she work out a plan for her colours and stitches on paper using coloured pencils to represent the colours of floss she was planning to use. This saves not only time but floss and fabric.
I can hardly wait to see the finished dress and she did promise to send a photo. I think you will all agree she has done a great job for a first go at smocking. It would be nice if you let her know by posting a comment below where she can read it!