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Contest entry

solosmocker | Posted in Photo Gallery on

This is another project that I recently finished. I had the pleasure of competing in a contest on the Everything Sewing site and it involved a round robin of the worst fabric in your stash. It had to be two yards and you could do anything with it. Entrants did everything from tablescapes to heirloom clothing.

When I got this fabric I thought, oh my, what a clown suit this will make! My plan was to ignore the fabric and smock the heck out of it with white floss. I think they call that “Denial”. After giving it some thought I came up with this option. I had been wanting to use ric rac in a project for some time and like how this worked out. My daughter calls this “Sophie’s clown dress.”

By the way, I came in second. The first place was an exquisitely smocked dress in variegated threads, just gorgeous. I also got the “booby” prize for sending the worst fabric. You don’t want to know….

Edited 4/14/2007 7:47 pm ET by solosmocker


  1. MaryinColorado | | #1

    I think that dress is darling!  Very bright and cheerful!  It made me think of the outdoor concerts and ice cream socials we went to when I was a child!

    I really like the way the smocking came out, very unique.  The rick rack is sweet.  Have you tried this?  Lay out strips of larger sized rick rack and darn them togeather at the points till you have a large rectangle of "fabric"  it makes darling sleeves.  I think I learned this from Martha Pullen.   You could press it onto tear away stabilizer if necessary but I didn't.

    I like to create my own fabric out of techniques like this.

  2. flossie | | #2

    I am really impressed with this - such clever use of colour and design. Traditional smocking is alway lovely but not all children  (or their mothers!) suit the "pretty look" so it is nice to see a "modern" version.

    I am a big fan of rick-rack trim and this has given me some new ideas - thank you.

    Regards Pauline

  3. jatman | | #3

    Once again - another beautiful job.  Very cute.  Makes me want to try to smock something!  Thank you for sharing your work with us!


  4. Josefly | | #4

    Congratulations on your 2nd place win. Oh my gosh that is the cutest smocked dress I've ever seen. I love it. I especially like the way you applied the rickrack to the bodice. I love the vibrant colors - and I think kids look great in them. And I love that you made something wonderful with your "worst" fabric. Your excellent skills really show on this one - reminds me of the kind of work my mother did in the 1940's and 50's.I have some quite challenging fabrics in my stash - what in the world was I thinking when I bought them? One problem I have is that I'm attracted to beautifully woven fabrics, and that leads me to buy things like wide-striped herringbone-weave cotton, and wide stripes are NOT for me. But you've inspired me to play with them some. Thanks.

    1. Gloriasews | | #18

      If you pintucked/pleated the wide stripes, you could make an interesting garment.  Threads ran an article recently on that.  Don't give up on the herringbone - inspiration will come to you one of these days!

      1. Josefly | | #20

        Yes, I'll play with it some. Thank you for the encouragement.The wide stripes are not regular, but are of varying widths, 3/4" to 2" wide, running lengthwise. Still, I have wondered what irregular-width pleats or tucks would look like. I'll get it out and pin pleats and tucks in it. It really is a pretty fabric, red and cream herringbone weave, hard to describe. About the weight of a heavier-than-usual shirt fabric, all cotton. Make sense?

        1. Gloriasews | | #22

          Yes, I can picture it.  You might try, when you do the tucks, sewing horizontally every other tuck, so the tucks are going each way, as in a recent Threads article - they might make the irregular stripes interesting.  If the stripes are really too large for your body, you could also color-block the article of clothing by using plain red or cream (as in a panel down the centre of a dress or the herringbone down the centre & plain on the sides, herringbone sleeves or plain, etc.).

          1. Josefly | | #23

            Interesting idea, the horizontal and vertical tucks. I think I must've missed that article. I'm really enjoying the suggestions.

  5. Char9 | | #5

    The dress is precious!  The smocking is exquisite!  The rick rack is charming and I like the way you embellished it.  Love it peeking out from the hem.  But my curiosity must be satisfied.  What was on your mind when you purchased the fabric?  Pillows for a sun porch?  Valance for a child's room? 

  6. User avater
    purduemom | | #6

    Adorable dress and beautiful smocking.  I am a big fan of smocking on children's garments and using smocking in creative ways.  

    Surely you pleated the fabric by hand in order to get the perfectly matched pleats within the color blocks.  I love the ric rac treatment - a very neat idea.

    This dress proves that one should not be quick to judge fabric by its outward appearance - inside even the most ugly fabric is a great garment just waiting to be discovered! 


    1. solosmocker | | #7

      Thanks to all for the compliments and encouragement. Mary, I love the ric rac idea you provided. I have seen that done with baby ricrac for a tiny trim, but a jumbo for sleeves? I love it! Char, I did not buy this fabric. You had to take your fabric and send it to a name basically drawn out of a hat. So you when you agreed to the contest you had no idea what you were getting. It was great fun. Sue, I pleated this on my little pleater. The pleater is 4 brass rollers on a stand that can hold up to 24 needles, mine anyway, and you do have to manipulate it by hand to get the fabric pleated. Takes a little manipulation but mostly patience.

      Edited 4/15/2007 7:42 pm ET by solosmocker

      1. MaryinColorado | | #12

        I think the rick rack "fabric" would be cute to make a shrug out of for my grand daughter who is thirteen.  Just haven't gotten a rount "tuit" yet!  I used to keep a little round badge in my sewing room that said "tuit" for all those UFO's but it must've moved on to greener pastures.

  7. Ralphetta | | #8

    You do wonderful work.  That fabric must have be a real surprise! You have a great sense of design and imagination.  I think you illustrated the motto...if you get lemons, make lemonade.  You turned it into a work of art.  I am dying to know what the fabric looked like that got the booby price!

    1. solosmocker | | #9

      It was sort of a heavy georgette that looked kind of tiedied and was in green and purples. I sent it to someone in Louisiana and her husband exclaimed, "It looks like Mardi Gras" when she opened her package.

  8. fabricholic | | #10

    Hi Solosmocker,I have to say that is some ugly fabric and you saved it from always being ugly. You are a magician. You have a wonderful talent for smocking. I don't know why, but I have never liked the primary colors together. Does anyone else feel this way, or is it just my weird taste?Marcy

    1. solosmocker | | #11

      I have never been a big fan of primary colors for children, whether in clothing or home dec; just too circus-y for me. I always felt a room for a child should be a little more serene. JMHO. I think it is fun and very good for our creative sides to get out of the comfort zone now and then and this fabric sure made me do that. Just looking at it was uncomfortable, LOL!

      1. User avater
        Becky-book | | #29

        Wonderful dress!

        One of my granddaughters has a very intense personality, could wear this dress and not be outdone by it!!  Do you know where I could get some of that cloth?  LOL


  9. bonkers | | #13

    Solo, I think your dress is the cutest thing !! I saved the photo to send to my friend who is a dedicated smocker. I know she will be amazed! Bonkers

    1. solosmocker | | #14

      Thanks, any and all feedback is greatly appreciated.

      1. dressed2atee | | #15

        The dress is absolutely georgeous!  I have never smocked before, but you are making me want to try it.  Once again, beautiful!

  10. ctirish | | #16

    Here we go..I love the fabric..was it made out of cotton.  I think fabric like this is just fun, fun to wear.  Her mom isn't going to spend lots of time getting stains out.(seems to be my hobby these days).  What you did with the Ric Rac was great, with the embroidery thread around the ric rac at the top.  I bet your gdg loves it.....


    Edited 4/17/2007 11:45 pm ET by ctirish

    1. solosmocker | | #17

      The fabric is 100% cotton. I rarely sew in synthetic fabrics, including for myself. I think I am just not good at handling their idiosyncrasies. So my stash is mostly linens and wools and a few silks and cottons. Not the biggest stash either, but thats OK.

      1. ctirish | | #21

        Thank you, I like working with Cotton and natural fabrics myself.  They seem to take less of a toll on my hands too. 

  11. dotty | | #19

    That is one beautiful little dress! Sometimes using colors that are not one's normal pallette can really expand your horizons. I love what you did with the rick rac. It reminds me of what my mother used to do with it-- wrap two pieces of conrtrasting color arond each other. I want to go try it out again myself now.

    1. User avater
      blondie2sew | | #24

      Wow just jumped into this thread!! How fun was this contest!! Congrats on #2! Did the gal who sent you your fabric give you an atta girl!! I am tellin you what I agree with Marcy (Fabricholic) That is some really ugly material ...and I do like brights and primaries but not in that combo!!As another poster posted you did great making it into something just wonderful and hey actually wearable!!! With your fabric you sent to that gal in Louisana what did she do with it? Do you know?Is this just a contest for smockers only or can anyone join in the fun next time!! You did wonderful thanks for letting us see!! I kinda want to know what your booby prize was...

      1. solosmocker | | #25

        This contest was open to anyone. The person who sent me my fabric told me after that she bought it to make a clown costume for Halloween. No kidding! LOL! The person who got my fabric ended up with some family problems and was not able to pull something together. But that's OK. It wasn't that great anyway! which was the whole idea. I will let you all know if another such contest comes up.

        1. Josefly | | #26

          This does sound like a neat contest. When you first mentioned it I thought it must've been for smockers like yourself. Was it for people who sew in general? I love the idea of sending your worst fabric to someone else, instead of trying to do it yourself. How was the fabric managed - did you "draw a name" and send the fabric directly yourself, or was there a central fabric-receiving/forwarding entity?

        2. User avater
          blondie2sew | | #27

          Yes please so let us/me know about when this contest is next available!!Sounds like so much fun...just because it is like a grab bag for everyone!! And it is exciting to see what others will do with that material you just had to have and then say later...what was I thinking!!I am in for the next one!! Now that I know it is not just for the smockers!!

          1. solosmocker | | #28

            Once you went to the forum and "signed up" on the contest thread you were notified by the webmaster, not a sewist, who you were to send your fabric to. You didn't know who was sending you yours until you saw the return address on the envelope, so it made for a lot of fun suspense. We had a couple of entrants from Australia and they got their entries done and in on time. I believe we had a couple of months to get it all done. Promise I will let you know when it will be done again. I can feel the competition heating up, ;).

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