Smocking was a part of traditional dress long before it became associated with clothes for children. However, as a way of expressing devotion through hand sewing, smocking patterns like these remained popular: most of these patterns were featured in the McCall Needlework catalogs year after year.
McCall 692 is one of the few patterns that mentions the pleasure to be had from smocking: “Fascinating to do and very attractive….”
Very loose, full dresses with smocked yokes were made for young children in the 1920’s, too:
This pattern is from 1936 –and was still for sale in 1950.
Smocks for toddlers were often loose, but smocked dresses for older girls followed the lines of adult fashion in the nineteen twenties and in the nineteen forties:
Honeycomb is one of the oldest smocking techniques, with many variations.
Also suitable for schoolgirls was this dress using honeycomb smocking — I believe this is one of the stitches that has some horizontal stretch. It gives interesting effects when worked on stripes or checks.
Boys — very young boys — could wear smocked outfits, too.
Mid-forties’ dresses for girls old enough to attend school were fitted at the waist. This horizontal yoke echoes the wartime wide shouldered-look for women.
A similar style was offered for younger girls:
A doting parent or grandmother could even smock a coat for her toddler — or a blouse, or a combination sunsuit/pinafore.
I confess that I am charmed by the illustrations, as well as the smocking. More about smocked dresses for girls, and smocking patterns, in Part 2.