Examiner in Dressmaking, Tailoring, French Pattern Modelling, Plain Needlework, and Millinery, of the Teachers in Training at the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire, Cardiff'; the London Higher Technical Examination Centres, etc.; First Class Diploma for Tailoring; Diploma of Honour for Dressmaking; Diploma of Merit of the Highest Order for Teaching; Silver Medallist, London Exhibition, 1900; Silver Medal, Franco-british Exhibition, 1908; Author of" Up-to-date Dresscutting and Drafting" also "The Practical Work of Dressmaking and Tailoring."

Honeycombing - Smocking - Cross-stitch - French Knots


Honeycombing is an ornamental stitch sometimes used instead of gathering to contract the fulness of any part of a garment to the size desired. It is more generally used for children's garments, but sometimes it is used for blouses, etc. When finished, the work has the appearance of rows of diamond-shaped cells united by dots, and looks somewhat like a section of honeycomb.

The amount of material required for the fulness is about double the width the honeycombing is to be when finished. The diamonds forming the honeycomb must always be kept regular and even.

To prepare the work, spread the piece of material to be worked smoothly on a table or board - wrong side uppermost - stretch a tape measure straight across it, and pin it firmly down at each end with a drawing-pin. Take a finely pointed pencil, and make a dot at each half-inch - more or less - all along the portion of material to be honeycombed. Make a succession of horizontal rows of dots half an inch apart - more or less - to the depth the honeycombing is to be worked.

N.B. - The dots must be accurately and lightly marked on to the material, or the work will not be a success.

Paper ready marked with dots can be bought - for a few pence - at any fancy shop, and the dots can be transferred to the material by means of a warm iron.

To do this, cut the paper to the required size, place it face downwards on the wrong side of the material, and press all over it with a warm iron.

When the paper is removed the dots should appear on the material; but, as this paper is only made with blue and orange-coloured dots, it is better in most cases for the worker herself to lightly pencil the dots on to the material. The work is next prepared for the honeycombing by running a tacking-cotton along each line of dots - from right to left - taking up on the needle and passing over half of the space between each dot, as shown in diagram I.

When all the horizontal lines of dots have been run in this way, draw up all the threads closely and evenly, stick a pin into the material at the end of each row, and twist the tacking-thread round it three or four times to prevent it slipping.

Commence the work at top right-hand corner, and oversew the first and second gathers together two or three times - according to the size the dot is to be made and the thickness of the silk with which it is being worked. Slip the needle down inside the fold of the second gather to the row below, and oversew the second and third gathers together, with the same number of stitches as in the first dot. Slip the needle inside the fold of the third, gather up to the top row, and oversew the third and fourth gathers together - with the same number of stitches - so that all the dots may match. Continue to work in the same way to the end of the first two rows. Commence the third and fourth rows, and work them in the same way as the first and second, taking up the same gathers in the third row as in the first, and the same gathers in the fourth as in the second row.

Diagram 1. Dots marked on material ready for honeycombing. Run a tacking thread along each line of dots

Diagram 1. Dots marked on material ready for honeycombing. Run a tacking-thread along each line of dots

Work the remainder of the rows in this way, making every alternate one match, then take out the tacking-threads.


Smocking is prepared in the same way as honeycombing, but as the stitches are not so elastic, more material is required for it. The amount to be allowed for the fulness is about two and a half or three times - according to the thickness of the material - the width the smocking is to be when finished.

The stitches used are embroidery, herringbone, and featherstitch, as well as cable, basket, rope, etc., and these are worked across the gathers, after they have been prepared in the same way as described for honeycombing.

Smocking is largely used for children's frocks, etc., as it is picturesque; and the tops and sleeves of blouses are frequently smocked.