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Smocking: Regency Elasticity

Elizabeth took up some needlework, and was sufficiently amused in attending to what passed between Darcy and his companion. The perpetual commendations of the lady either on his hand-writing, or on the evenness of his lines, or on the length of his letter, with the perfect unconcern with which her praises were received, formed a curious dialogue, and was exactly in unison with her opinion of each.
-Pride and Prejudice

This 1812 fashion plate from Costume Parisien features smocking at the neck of the gown.

During the Regency the stitching style known as smocking became increasingly popular. Used for generations to add “stretch” and “elasticity” to garments, it provided yet another outlet for the creative seamstress to express herself.

The following images, provided by Kass McGann of Reconstructing History, offer a visual tutorial for creating a Regency style smocked chemisette, like the one seen in the above fashion plate.

The cloth is marked for pleats.
Crease the pleats into place.


Add stitches to hold the pleats in place.
Begin tacking the pleats in place using a “honeycomb” stitch.
Another view of the Honeycomb stitch.
The finished smocking.
The back of the smocked Chemisette.
A side view of the smocking.


This Chemisette is fastened in the front with hook and eye fasteners.

Original photos and text © 2012 Kass McGann. All Rights Reserved. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material.

Kass McGann is the owner and founder of Reconstructing History, a historical pattern supply company. Her expertise has led her to lecture on the subject of historical clothing in Ireland, England, the US and Australia. She has also published articles on specific items of historic dress as well as how-to guides for reenactors. Visit her site,, for an amazing array of patterns from many eras, including an extensive collection of Regency era patterns for both men and women.

One thought on “Smocking: Regency Elasticity

  1. Beautiful! I have always liked smocking, but did not know that it was used as early as this. I will absolutley use this information for future outfits AND for some ideas for time-period needle lessons.

    LOVE! 😀


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