Smocking trial and error

I have for awhile been curious about how the undergarment of Dorothea Meyer (Holbein) might have been made

And a recent discussion with some friends gave me an idea to try out with smocking. The thread is pretty thick, so I used a white wool yarn I happened to have home on a piece of linen


…and even though it is pretty close, I’m not completely convinced that the smocking technique is used for this

1) the thread is more likely sewn on to the surface of the fabric
2) can’t figure out where all the extra yarn in the middle tassel comes from, unless its just attached as extra bling of course
3) the thread seems to be a cord because its end has a little knot, which you would add if you need to make sure it doesn’t unwrap itself, and the extra “tassel” is underneath the cord, not part of it.
4) don’t know if it might be the painters interpretation or not, but you need more then two stitches per “quadrant line” if you are using the smocking technique.

…but if you are planning to recreate the underdress, then I would suggest using a nice thick silk thread


7 comments on “Smocking trial and error

  1. Martha Sherwood says:

    It looks to me as if the undergarment was smocked and then the seamstress whipstitched a heavy 2-ply cord over the smocking lines, leaving the ends of the cord dangling.

  2. Andie says:

    It occurred to me after studying the picture more, that there is no extra tassel on the bottom. What you are looking at is the gathered chemise. The very top front of her dress is open! There are only two strings hanging from the middle and the white under it is just the smocked chemise showing! :0)

  3. khalja says:

    I agree with the top poster. I think the heavy cording is couched to the smocked piece.

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