The design element of smocking, also referred to as a smocking pattern, can range from diamonds to flowers, from the herringbone pattern to the latticework, among a host of other patterns. These types of patterns are commonly chosen by what type of smocking they will appear on. Children's clothing, especially infant and toddler wear, commonly will feature roses and flowers on them. Little girls' dresses and costumes also will often have detailed smocking.
Smocking patterns are a specific design element made up of numbered or intentional stitch or row combinations. However, the term smocking pattern also refers to the instructions for sewing a certain design, pleating instructions, and all pieces necessary to bring the entire design to completion. While it is obviously important to consider what type of smocking pattern will best fit the sewer's purpose, it should be noted that three to four times the width of material will be used compared to the length of the finished piece. Whatever pattern will best suit the material and the seamstress is the most purposeful choice.
Smocking is an embroidery technique originally designed explicitly to hold pleats in place. Used to create elasticity within a garment before elastic was created, smoking was at first simply utilitarian. For this reason, the original patterns were simplistic. Smocking pattens can range from the most detailed of patterns to the most simplistic. Throughout the decades smocking has become both functional as well as decorative. Different types of smocking patterns have evolved and include not only the sewing instructions but cutting and pleating directions as well. The type of smocking pattern chosen is usually done for the sole reason of the comfort level of the seamstress who will be using them.
One type of smocking pattern is smocking dots. Smocking dots most often come in a transferable pattern, which is usually ironed on to the fabric, which will then be sewn. This type of patterning is also referred to as dot-to-dot smocking. The stitching in this type of pattern is limited to only where the dots fall.
Another type of patterning, as smocking patterns are at times referred to, is the smocking plate. The smocking plate provides a diagrammed design to be followed by the person doing the sewing. Along with the diagram, often detailed written instructions will be included for further clarification.