The Edith Smock
Not all design inspiration has a story. Edith is different.
Edith has a remarkable story.
The story is actually in two parts; part one was the impetus. Sue Stoney from @fadanista came to me with a beautiful piece of fabric she had printed at a workshop with Woven Stories Textiles. We didn't want to waste a scrap of this gorgeous fabric, so the idea to create a zero waste pattern came about.
This is Sue in her Edith Smock made from the fabric she printed (low waist version as a top):
Part two is about childhood memories. One day, my best friend came to visit me with her toddler. Her little girl was wearing a dress that I knew. It was mine - but how did she come to have it?!
When I saw my friend's daughter wearing the dress, the feeling I had was visceral, my whole body went weak, and almost into shock. What is remarkable, I have few memories of my childhood, and there are almost no photos. I would have been two at most when I wore this dress, so how did I recognise it? I can only think, that even at that young age, the textiles resonated with me and I fell in love with it. Muscle memory, if you like.
I sent a photo of the dress to my mother to confirm that it had been mine. Even after all this time, she would know, as she made it, and it was unique.
And it was.
This is the dress, returned after nearly fifty years, made from cheesecloth, and the fibres stained with the threads of a story.
Head over to my @patternunion Instagram page to see the full IGTV story to hear how it made it's way back to me!
I knew I had to combine the concept of zero waste and my childhood memories, and design a garment that had the potential to become an heirloom piece. Something that was timeless, and for all time. Something that supported generations to come. Something that honoured the past and the future.
And I think I did it. In keeping with the tradition of family, this is named after a young niece: Edith.
Silk/cotton low waist with gathered skirt, embroidery, smocking and leather belt (slip not seen!):
I am a big fan of naive embroidery and smocking - which may be a reflection of my own slightly erratic methods! But in sharing my techniques, I think I show how approachable it can be, and how rough edges are actually beautiful. The instructions include video links to the Pattern Union YouTube channel to learn how I do embroidery and smocking, including faux smocking.
You don't have to do smocking if you don't want to. As always, I offer different options for style and construction so you can be the designer of your own wardrobe. A simple gathered front is also super effective, like on this rayon knit version (low waist with a gathered skirt):
When I first saw a smocking pleater, it terrified me, so it has taken me until now to use one. And now I love it! Sometimes, I just pleat the fabric and don't smock, I think the stitching lines in a contrast thread look simple and elegant.
Silk/cotton high waist with gathered skirt:
There are lots of fun details in this smock, with pockets and button tabs, a fun 'label' that can be placed where you like (I used the back neck as a traditional position, but some testers put it on the pocket - so lovely!). You can gather the sleeves, or leave them wide. Move the tabs to make epaulettes or accentuate the waist - the options are endless!
This pattern offers more: I like to add definition to my waist, so I decided to share a belt pattern that can be made in fabric, with or without embroidery, or in leather. After you make this belt, you will never buy another! And of course, there are videos to help you do both.
As if that didn't make this a bumper, value pattern, when I made the silk/cotton samples, I realised I needed a slip. So yes, I even included a zero waste slip set of instructions.
The Edith Smock transcends age, and here I am wearing one with my daughter. Mine is the low waist version lengthened (as seen in the construction video) and my daughter is wearing the low waist with a gathered skirt, both in size Medium. The smock is designed to have a lot of ease, so you can play with the sizing to suit your style and fabric.
The Edith smock isn't just a set of instructions, it is a pattern that can be printed in layers, size S - XXXL, and you can cut out the pieces to play pattern Tetris to get the most out your fabric whether it is a full length or off-cuts.
The Edith Smock is on sale for the first month of release - get yours now!