Image of finished smocked skirt

I'm sorry to say but I'm no knitter. However, I always wish that I had a project I could take with me on the go. This is one of those transport friendly projects, if the size of fabric isn't enormous. The technique is called direct smocking, and it can be applied to home decor, clothing or accessories.

It's a combination of pulled and slack stitches that form a pattern of pleats in the fabric. You can create all sorts of pleated patterns depending on the stitch sequence. This one is called the honeycomb stitch. I'm going to show you how to make a quick and easy skirt , but you can easily take this technique and go crazy making all kinds of things. Next on my list is a scarf and some linen cushions. The pleat takes up fabric in a width-wise direction, making the fabric ratio 2:1. This means that if you want the finished piece to be 10", you need to double it and make it 20". It's really easy, relaxing and fun to do. This would be a good gift idea for Christmas, or you can be selfish and keep it to yourself!


  • Construction paper
  • Ruler
  • Awl, or something that will poke holes through the paper
  • Fabric maker or chalk
  • Needle
  • Thread (I used embroidery thread for the smocking so that it was more visible)
  • Fabric (Amount depends on your measurements)
  • 8" zipper

Decide how long you want your skirt to be. Add 1" hem allowance. (I finished the waistline with a rolled hem on the serger, so did not add seam allowance to the waist. If you don't have a serger, add 1.5" seam allowance to the waistline.)

Example: Skirt length = 19" + 1" hem allowance (+1.5" optional waistline allowance) = 20"- 21.5"

  • Measure yourself at the natural waist and add 1" to this measurement for seam allowance on either side.
  • Cut two rectangles of fabric by these dimensions.
  • Finish raw edges with a serger or zig- zag stitch. (If serging a rolled hem at the waist, do not sew along waistline. )
  • Place pieces right sides together, pinning along the side seams. Sew both side seams at 1/2", leaving an 8" opening at the top of one seam for the zipper opening. Press seam allowance open.
  • Finish waistline: Serge a rolled hem along the waistline or fold waistline towards the wrong side of fabric by 1 1/2" and sew at 1 1/4" seam allowance
    Photo of smocking grid
  • Create a 1" grid on the construction paper. Poke a hole through each line intersection (The amount of rows on your grid will depend on how many rows of smocking you want)
  • Match the grid to the waistline and transfer dots to the right side of the fabric.
    image of first step in honeycomb smocking
  • With a needle and thread, begin stitching along the length of the waistline, one row at a time. Take up the first dot (#1) along the first row, then move to the second dot (#2) next to it in the same row.
    image of second step in honeycomb smocking image of third step in honeycomb smocking
  • Pull these two dots together, forming a pleat. Tack the dots together a few times to strengthen the stitch.image of fourth step in honeycomb smocking
  • Insert the needle into the fabric, and move to the dot in the second row directly below dot #2. Allow the stitch underneath the fabric to be slack and ext at this dot
    image of fifth step in honeycomb smocking image of sixtht step in honeycomb smocking
  • Take up the next dot beside it, pulling the two together to form another pleat. Tack dots together, insert needle into fabric and exit again at the dot directly above, in the first row of dots. Continue stitching until the row is complete
  • Stitch diagram for honeycom smockingThis little diagram will clarify the stitches. The straight line between the dots represent pulled stitches and the squiggly lines are slack stitches.
  • Sew the zipper into the side seam opening. (I do this step last last in case there's any fit adjustments after the skirt is smocked)
  • Hem the skirt. Press raw edge in by 1/2", and again at 1/2". Sew at 3/8" seam allowance.
  • Lightly steam the pleats and press your new skirt!Image of finished smocked skirt


Comments (23)

  1. Carolanne:
    Dec 15, 2011 at 10:31 AM



  2. Singer Sewing Machines | The Smocked Honeycomb Skirt Tutorial - Victory Patterns:
    Dec 17, 2011 at 08:46 PM

    [...] the original post: The Smocked Honeycomb Skirt Tutorial - Victory Patterns Filed Under: How To Sew A Rolled [...]


  3. Adelaide Blair:
    Dec 23, 2011 at 04:24 PM

    Very cute!


  4. bela saudade:
    Dec 24, 2011 at 11:33 AM

    Great tutorial and lovely patterns.


  5. Greenboots57:
    Jan 03, 2012 at 03:29 PM

    Can't wait to try this


  6. The Mrs Murdock:
    Jan 10, 2012 at 07:54 AM

    beautiful! great fabric choice too


    1. :
      Jan 13, 2012 at 10:58 PM

      Thanks! Picking out fabric is my least favorite thing. I'm so indecisive, but I'm happy with how it turned out!


  7. Carmen:
    Jan 11, 2012 at 07:30 AM

    Oh wow -- I always figured smocking was a lot more complicated. Now I'll have to give it a try -- thanks!


    1. :
      Jan 13, 2012 at 10:56 PM

      This method it really easy, but there's all sorts of other more complicated types of smocking. Perhaps I'll get to that one of these days! So glad you like it.


  8. Chelsea:
    Jan 11, 2012 at 09:35 AM

    Ohhhhh! I just found this site and have already favorited it!!! I am definetly going to do this and I'm very sure that my 11 year old daughter will love learning it, too!!! Thanks sooo much!


    1. :
      Jan 13, 2012 at 10:55 PM

      Thanks Chelsea, and YES, you should teach you daughter!


  9. Sonia Corvo:
    Jan 16, 2012 at 03:58 AM

    Love the fabric! Thank's for sharing, I'll try this week to make a pillow.


    1. kristiann:
      Jan 17, 2012 at 03:18 PM

      Awesome! I hope it turns out great.


  10. Maddie964:
    Feb 11, 2012 at 07:15 PM

    I love this! And the print is absolutely darling! Have you ever read the book "The Art of Manipulating Fabric"? It has so many awesome tutorials and information on smocking (it also has tons of information on pleats, flounces, godets, etc.). If you haven't read it, I highly recommend that you do.


    1. :
      Feb 12, 2012 at 12:14 AM

      I do have that book. and you're right. It is amazing! There's a lot of other great smocking stitches in it that give really lovely results. That's really thoughtful of you to recommend it!


  11. Wen:
    Apr 29, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    It's beautiful!


  12. Daphne Ally:
    Jun 27, 2012 at 03:05 PM

    Such beautiful work. It seems simple and I aim to try it. Thank you for sharing.


  13. Bnabors:
    Jul 07, 2012 at 04:37 AM

    I wonder how this would do with elastic thread.


    1. kristiann:
      Jul 09, 2012 at 11:43 AM

      I'm sure that would work. I think I've seen it done before, although it may not have been exactly the same stitch technique, but it's worth a shot. Try a small sample and see how it goes. I'd love to hear about the results!


  14. Mo:
    Dec 30, 2012 at 06:23 AM

    The skirt is beautiful. Did you insert a zipper?


  15. mo:
    Dec 30, 2012 at 06:25 AM

    oops! I 8 inch zipper. Thank you for the tutorial.


  16. diya:
    Jun 08, 2014 at 04:56 PM

    your work is excellent round smocking cushion styles step by step tutorial plzzzzzzzzz


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