If you are a lover of smocking, the needle arts, fashion, fabric manipulation or fashion history, don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to see the exhibit Smocking, Fabric Manipulation and Beyond, at the Lacis Museum in Berkeley, California. Gathered in one place, you will find amazing pieces that span the decades and demonstrate the versatility of smocking. From the homely shepherd’s frock to the dress worn by Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables, the breathtaking dress recently featured in Threads magazine to the work of modern artisans, it is all gathered at the Lacis Museum in Berkeley California from March 8th through October 4th, 2014. The opening reception is March 13th and special classes and lectures are planned for the 13th through the 15th.
The impetus for the exhibit began with Sarah Douglas’ donation to the Lacis Museum of all her smocking tools, research and plates. Sarah was instrumental in the revival of smocking in the 1980s and was involved with the Smocking Arts Guild of America (SAGA), a not for profit guild formed at that time to help preserve and foster the art of smocking and related needlearts. As word of the donation spread, Nelli Durand and Mimi Ahern, also part of smocking’s revival in the 1980s, also donated their collections. The Lacis Museum joined with SAGA, and the Cable Car Cablers, the local chapter of SAGA, to collect and display pieces of this art form from around the country.
The art of smocking arose from the necessity to fit the fabric to the body. Without the skills of tailoring, the alternative was manipulate the fabric itself by simply gathering the fabric where it was too loose and securing the gathers by stitching across them creating a stretchable, comfortable fitting garment. The shaping would soon go beyond simple fitting to providing form to the garment as well as decoration through the use of elaborate embroidery on the pleats. Eventually the technique would become an independent art form free from any necessary function.
SAGA is sponsoring the opening of the exhibit March 13th-15th with a lecture on the history of smocking, classes in smocking on the 14th and 15th, and a reception on the 13th that includes a behind the scenes tour. Space is limited. For more information and to reserve your spot go to www.smocking.org.