You may be familiar with origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, but chances are you’ve never encountered smocks. This technique refers to the way fabric can be brought together by stitches, often done in a grid-like pattern to create more organized designs. Often, smocks are made with soft fabrics, and you may have even noticed it on silk blouses and cotton shirts. There are many examples of 18th and 19th century paintings depicting fashionable smocks.
[Madonna Yoder], an origami enthusiast, has documented her explorations in origami tessellations and smocks, including geometric shapes folded from a single sheet of paper and smocked weave patterns in fabric. Besides the flat designs, she also made chain smocked scarves sewn in a circular pattern and several examples of origami tessellations transferred to fabric smocks. Similar to origami folds, the stitches used are not complex. Rather, the pleat pattern defines the final shape once the stitches and fabric are properly gathered.
What is the similarity between the two art forms? On the surface, it looks like they relate to entirely different disciplines – one features designs folded from paper while the other deals with sewing fabric. However, when it comes to modular origami and creating tessellations, there is a lot of overlap.
Both art forms rely on precision to create the exact angles that produce the patterns, but it’s a little more noticeable on puffy smocked pieces if precision has gone awry.
If you want to create your own smock patterns, there are plenty of tutorials to follow, such as this honeycomb smock tutorial.