Smocking is sometimes viewed as only suitable for children's garments. Whilst I admire a smocked square yoke party dress on a 3 year old as much as the next embroidery fanatic, I also think that smocking can be gorgeous in more sophisticated clothes.
This dress by German design house Schumacher was featured in the December 2008 Burda magazine - photo credit Burda World of Fashion.
I used this dress as inspiration for a dress with a smocked bodice insert. The Schumacher dress has a gathered chiffon panel that looks fabulous if your bust is A cup or less, as the panel falls softly across the bodice in this size. For more substantial figures, the gathered panel gives a distinct pouter pidgeon outline in an unadultarated state - smocking to the rescue!
Smocking the panel, and making the outer panel shorter than the lining panel, controls the pleats, and provides an opportunity for embellishment. I still had a little trouble with excess puffiness, but adding a few beads to the top smocking row, and a few stab stitches within the panel has made the front bodice fit well, and I am pleased with the silhoutte of this dress.
I kept the smocking pattern simple - a row of cross over cable, then several rows of diamond trellis, shaping to 3 Vs above the bust.