Vintage Smocking in Décor

Do you know about smocking, and how it’s done? Have you ever been intrigued to try???

Smocking is a technique that originated in England and has been around since the Middle Ages. In the past, before elastic, smocking was used on cuffs and waistbands, necklines and bodices as a way to gather the fabric and create stretch. Fast-forward to the mid-twentieth century, most commonly the 60’s, and you’ll see smocking showing up in décor.

Here are some vintage Simplicity smocking patterns from the 60’s…


And a few McCall’s patterns from that time too…


This pattern is from 1962…


And these patterns, from 1961…


Do you recognize any of these fanciful made-by-hand cushions? Aren’t the patterns intricate? I can’t believe all this smocking is done by hand!

I know these cushions aren’t the going ‘style’ anymore, but it just seems so sad that craftsmanship like this has become a vintage recollection rather than a modern day charm. And what got me to thinking about this at all is that I actually own 2 of the round cushions you see in this last set of patterns. And believe it or not, mine are blue velveteen too! They were made by my friend’s mom, and given to me as a gift a little over 20 years ago. I’ve always admired the precision of the handiwork, but like so many things, these cushions have been safely tucked away.

Until today…

Notice how even the pleating is?

And look at the detail of the smocking pattern all around the sides.

Isn’t it incredible? The buttons are covered by hand too.

If you would like to give this pattern a try, here is a DIY tutorial to help you along.

Another smocking pattern is honeycomb, and you often see gingham fabric used for this one.


I am including this one because I have a cushion smocked in this pattern by my grandmother. I think it’s safe to say this is a vintage treasure! You might remember my post, A Quilt of Many Colours

Here is a look at the cushion my grandmother made.

I don’t know how to smock, but I think working with gingham would be a good place to start. What do you think?

Click this DIY tutorial if you want to give this pattern a try…

There are so many smocking patterns, it’s hard to know where to begin…


I think the round pillows are done in the Matrix pattern… but if I don’t have that right, please let me know!

I love the cozy feeling of a window seat…


And these smocked cushions add to the coziness with some texture panache.

Just like this mix of cable knit and muslin.


They call it a French lingerie mix of pretty pillows. Can you pick out the ones that are authentically smocked?

And smocking in decor does not have to stop at cushions.


Isn’t this a dreamy space? I don’t think it would have the same feeling without the smocking…

When I look at the exquisite symmetry in these patterns painstakingly stitched by hand,  I think we’ve lost something in the culture of our décor. But I also think some of that might be making a come-back.



If you can pair smocking with Eames, there’s still something timelessly modern about it!

Can you help me out with the names of some of the smocking patterns I’ve shown here? What’s your history with smocking in décor?

Related Posts You Might Like To Read

A Quilt of Many Colours 

June Cleaver I Am Not! 

Audrey Hepburn: DIY Inspiration

Antiqued Mirrors: A Now WOW

 It’s about coming home… If you want a remarkable space that tells your story, contact me to see how we can help!

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