Bubbles! Beautiful bubbles in fabric. These were the words that escaped out of my mouth when I saw smocked cushion covers for the very first time in my life. I was a little girl then and I have always loved this art. Canadian smocking is an art of fabric manipulation.

Other names: North American smocking, Lattice Smocking, Capitone.


There are many pretty tutorials in this website. Since I cannot add all of them in one page (100s of pictures), I have created one tutorial page for each pattern. The page that you are currently reading has general tips that will help beginners a lot. Towards the very end of this page (all the way down), you will see links to all the individual tutorials.

For each pattern, I have included

  1. step by step pictures showing you exactly how you can make that pattern
  2. graphs that you have to draw on the fabric before you start stitching
  3. special tips that you have to remember if any
  4. method for calculating the amount of fabric needed for that particular pattern

It was a lot of work but I loved posting these tutorials for you. Enjoy!

You can however ignore the tips in this page and scroll down quickly to the gallery so you can open the individual tutorials or click to see all tutorials now.

Type of fabric used

This type of smocking is usually done with fabric that is flowing and slippery. Thick and stiff fabrics like cotton and linen are usually avoided. I have used satin cloth in my tutorials.

Getting the fabric ready

A grid (of squares) is drawn on the fabric (in most cases on the back side of the fabric). Then 2 or 3 or 4 corners of those squares are tied together.

Canadian Smocking tutorial with step by step pictures - Arrow design

Stretching and taping fabric

Since the fabric is slippery and flowing, it has to be taped down (shown above) on all 4 sides when drawing the grid. If the grid does not have perfect squares, the end product will be distorted. You can tape the fabric on the dining table or the floor.

Thread used for stitching

In most cases, stitches are placed on the back side of the fabric. But it is still better to use thread that matches the color of the fabric. Use threads that are strong and thick. I prefer to use perle cotton threads or embroidery threads ( all 6 strands of them).

Cutting the fabric

I use pinking scissors (shown below) to cut the fabric to reduce fraying. It can get very frustrating to sew the cushion cover using a smocked piece that has frayed edges and satin threads hanging out. Trust me. 🙂

Canadian Smocking tutorial with step by step pictures - Arrow design

If you do not have a pinking scissors, leave extra allowance so you can trim the edges off. You can also use masking tape / any tape that has less tack to bind the edges before you start working on the fabric.

How to draw grid?

Allow 5 inches allowance on all 4 sides when drawing the grid and pattern on the fabric.

Use tailor’s pencils or easily erasable pencils or crayons to draw the grid.


To draw the grid, if you are a quilter, you will be having this quilter’s ruler. This will be very helpful.

Canadian Smocking tutorial with step by step pictures - Arrow designIf you are not a quilter, you can get a long steel or wooden ruler that engineering students use. The longer the ruler, the easier your work will be.

You can also go to a hardware store like homedepot or lowes and get a long piece of wood that is 1.5 inches or 1 inch wide.

Smocking templates are also available for purchase. Check online stores or nearby craft supply stores.

If you are on a tight budget or if you are a DIY person like me or if you are unable to find any of the above mentioned tools, fear not, I am going to show you how to make a smocking template.

Take a piece of thick chart paper or card board. Draw the grid on it. Using a sharp needle (choose the biggest needle that you’ve got), punch holes in all the intersections. Place this on the fabric and mark the dots.

Calculating the fabric required

Smocking always shrinks fabric. The length and width of fabric required will vary based on

  1. Pattern chosen
  2. Size of the grid squares
  3. The size of the cushion

Pattern: The length and width of fabric required varies depending on the pattern. At the end of each tutorial, you will find a short guide showing you how calculate the length of fabric required for that particular pattern.

Size of the grid squares: To keep things easy and simple, unless otherwise stated, the squares will be 1.5 inches tall and 1.5 inches wide.

Important: If you prefer to use a different square size, the formula given might not work.

The size of the cushion

A standard cushion size is 16 inches by 16 inches. The cushion cover has to be bigger than this. You also have to factor in the thickness of the cushion. Measure the cushion at its thickest point (usually the center). The cushion cover has to be slightly bigger than this.

A final word of caution, the formula given in each tutorial to calculate length and width of fabric is approximate and is dependent on various factors. If you are new to Canadian smocking, do not chop off the fabric as soon as you draw the grid. Start smocking and if you find that you need more fabric, you can always draw additional lines on both sides to extend the grid.

I will be adding more smocking patterns in the next few days. Chennai deserves a special mention now (#chennairains, #chennaifloods). Hats off Chennai.

Gallery For Canadian Smocking Tutorials

Scroll down to find links to all the individual tutorials.

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you found this useful. I wish all of you a merry Christmas and a blessed new year. I will come back again with another exciting series of craft tutorials. Until then, have fun smocking. 🙂

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If you followed any of my tutorials and made something, send me pictures and I will add them here with your name. Please share these tutorials with your friends. I would love to hear your comments. Please leave them below.

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