About the Index
How this index was started
This index started with an ebay purchase of a lot of old smocking magazines. Wow was I in heaven, paging through them all, looking at so many wonderful old ideas and projects. Some of the ideas were laughably dated, it’s true, but so many more were greatly inspiring.
So I’d think of a project that needed doing, or find some fabric that was begging to be smocked. And vaguely, in the recesses of my mind, I’d remember a project that was just PERFECT. All I needed to do was find it again! Down came the boxes of magazines, and I’d flip through the tables of contents, sure I’d recognize the project title, or hoping a thumbnail photo would be there. Usually I’d end up flipping through 8 years of magazines before finding what I was looking for.
Wouldn’t it be easier in the long run, I thought, if I just made an index? I have a computer, I have a scanner. It couldn’t be that hard. And the initial effort would surely pay off later, when I’m itching to sew. I was just getting into blogging, and it occurred to me that with all the ability to date things, and categorize and tag them, a blog is actually an excellent indexing tool.
Sure I was probably breaking some sort of copyright law, I kept the blog to private. But then I started to think about how surely other people are in the same situation. Many people collect old Sew Beautifuls and AS&Es, and they must all have the same problem. So I thought I’d make this index public, and as soon as the first cease and desist letter came in, I’d re-privatize it.
The response has been really enthusiastic, though. I haven’t heard any complaints, but I’ve received lots of thank yous! Some very kind people have even sent me issues that I don’t have, so I can index them: that is super duper awesome and nice. There are now almost 500 plates in it, and I probably am about 150 behind! I’m (slowly) getting around to doing them all. I hope that you find it useful and inspiring. I really have. Sometimes, when I’m bored, I’ll just page through this index and look at all the pretty things.
A few words about the index
This index was originally made for me and for my own personal use. I’m scanning in all of the smocking plates I have, either from old magazines or from stand-alone plates that I’ve purchased. It is NOT a comprehensive index of anything except for my personal collection. I don’t have a complete collection of anything, though I do have most of the Sew Beautifuls, and I’ve been buying every issue of AS&E since 2007, until my local Barnes and Noble stopped carrying them.
I originally started organizing all the plates by designer. I’m not entirely sure why. I think I thought it would be kind of cute to do that: an homage. In retrospect, it was kind of confusing and pointless and makes it harder to search. I’m slowly changing over, and having things organized by issue. I don’t think it really matters, as I think that the categories over on the right side are the most useful. At least, that’s what I always use to browse what I’m looking for.
As for those categories, it all makes sense to me. It may not make sense to you, though, so check around and see if what you’re looking for is someplace else. For example, I have a category for religious plates. Several of these originally appeared on dresses that were displayed as Easter dresses. However, if it’s just a cross, I think that design could be used for several things (christening, communion, etc) and is not Easter specific. Easter is more things like bunnies and baskets. Many things show up on multiple lists.
Oh yeah, and all the plates are organized alphabetically by title on any list. Sometimes I’m not so good at the alphabet, and things might be slightly out of order. Just to warn you. As each page gets longer and more image intensive, it gets a bit harder to edit and organize.
If you notice some issues I’m missing, or want to send me some stand alone plates, I’ll add them to the index. If you don’t want to do that, but want to get an idea of what’s for sale, I can personally recommend perusing the websites of and purchasing from Baltazor Fabrics, Martha’s Heirlooms, and Farmhouse Fabrics. There are other stores too, but those are three that I’ve purchased from and they have nice websites and very nice people working there who are very helpful.
I don’t have anything to sell or give away. I won’t send you the smocking plate. The section marked “free patterns” is confusing to some people, who send me emails asking where the free patterns are. They’re all available in magazines, which you have to purchase. I started adding in the patterns when I realized I was doing the same thing as I had been with the smocking plates: looking through each issue, trying to find either a silhouette I had in mind, or something interesting to make. I’ve pretty much only done the Size 4s, because that’s what my oldest daughter is, so that’s what I’m most interested in right now. Pretty much all the SB patterns are very multi-age, so that actually covers most of the free patterns ever offered in SB.
If you are interested in buying any of the back issues of magazines shown here, I recommend ebay. Also check out the forums over on the Martha Pullen website.
The future of the index
I get quite a lot of visitors these days! My highest record is 576 page views in one day. Wordpress offers me stats about the website people clicked on to get to this site, and best I can tell is that, on that day, this index was posted on a major sewing forum, and then a lot of people emailed the link to their friends. Most days I get anywhere from 50-150. Some days more, usually not less. For a small smocking website, I think that’s pretty impressive. It’s certainly inspired me to keep it up, if other people find it useful!
After I finish entering in my smocking plates, I’d like to go back and do some of the embroidery designs. Some of them are really pretty, and I’d like to be able to find them again. Honestly, unless I get A LOT of interest, I’ll probably never do the duplicate stitch designs. Just not something I’m interested in.
I was thinking it would be nice to add in free online smocking plates. I’d love to know what’s out there, and since people apparently do use this index, it is a way to advertise blogs or sites that offer free patterns. Right now I’m much too busy to go searching for plates to index, but if you are a designer who has some free smocking plates up online, I’d be happy to index them. Please send me your name, the name of the design, the link, and I’d REALLY appreciate it if you’d do the hard work and send me a photo of the smocked design, too. No wider than 500 pixels, but if it’s a tall photo, 300 or 400 is nice. You can send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m Megan, and I’ve been sewing for as long as I can remember. I’ve always loved embroidery, and was so happy when my daughter was born in 2007 that I finally had an excuse to learn how to smock. I now have a son and another daughter, and I just wish I had more time to sew for them all!