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Faux Smocking Nightgown Tutorial
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Faux Shirred Nightgown


Fine, even weave cotton fabric (cotton batiste, Egyptian cotton, or other light weight fabric)

Lightweight cotton gauze or voile in matching or contrasting color

2 mm and 4 mm silk ribbon

Narrow trim or braid for shoulders

Narrow (1/4” wide or less) edging lace for hem and sleeve edges.   


Tools and Supplies

Small  sherp scissors for fabric

Scissors for paper

Small sewing needle

Insect pins, fine beading needles or fine silk pins

Steam iron or hand held steamer

” dowel

White tacky-type or fabric glue

Freezer or Butcher’s paper (paper which is coated on one side with wax or plastic)

Waxed paper

Syringe type glue gun or small tipped squeeze bottle for glue(optional)

Unscented hair spray, spray starch, or fabric stiffenener (Stiffy or Stiffen Stuff)                                        














to place nightgown on a doll

Seal gathers with a bit of glue

Gathered draping


trace pattern on freezer paper

Iron pattern onto gauze

Separate patterns from fabric

Add lace to trim sleeves

Sew gathering stitches

Sew underarm seams, press and turn right side out

Slip on dowel and iron seam.

Gather to half inch



Attach sleeves

Seal with glue

Add trim to shoulders

Trimmed shoulder

Both shoulders trimmed

Completed nightgown

 Cut a piece of fabric 7 ” wide x 3” long.  Be certain that your cuts run parallel to the grain of the fabric.  Check the grain by pulling a thread of the fabric from the short side right near the long edge.  If you pull the thread all the way out of the fabric the empty space will create a cutting line right along the grain. Seal all edges with a very fine line of glue, especially if you plan to sew the garment.

Measure  1/8” from the long edge and pull out one single thread in the same manner that you found the grain above.  This time you will use the empty space as a guide for the fold of your hem.


Use only the tiniest amount of glue.





Fold the fabric into four even sections and mark the center and each quarter fold with a pin or by taking a small stitch with a needle and contrasting thread along the unhemmed edge.












Cut a piece of lace  15 inches long. Divide into four even sections and mark in the same manner that you did for the fabric.





Find the heading thread at one cut end in the top of the lace and put a small dot of glue on the end so that when you pull the thread to gather the lace, it will not pull through. If your lace does not have a heading thread you will have to sew a tiny running stitch all the way across the top part of the lace to gather.

Use a tweezers to grab the header thread and begin to gather the lace.

Lay your fabric on your workspace and, starting with the edge of the lace that you sealed with glue, match the first quarter division on both the lace and the fabric, pin together and adjust the gathers evenly between the two points. Run a line of glue along that quarter of the bottom edge (you may also sew for this step). Glue or sew this section together, then match the pieces of the next section. This procedure helps to make the gathers more evenly spaced. Continue until the entire piece of lace is attached.

Dab a bit of glue along the top inch or so of one raw edge of the fabric to seal the threads.  Allow the glue to dry completely.

Using a needle or straight pin, at the opposite raw edge, carefully pull up one long horizontal thread, about 1/8” from the outside edge and ” below the finished top edge (just below the hem).  Pull up a second thread about 1/16” below the first thread. Pull up two more threads at the same interval in this manner.

Check to be certain that the glue on the opposite sealed edge has dried completely.  Now grab all the loose threads that you have pulled up into one hand.  Holding the threads firmly, GENTLY and carefully gather the fabric on these threads.  Pull into even gathers.  If a thread does break, pull another right next to it to replace it.

If you plan to display the finished garment in a setting, gather so that the fabric measures about 2 ” across the gathered area. 

If you are dressing a one inch scale miniature doll, gather the fabric enough to wrap around your doll over the bust and under her arms with a 1/4 inch overlap for a seam. (NOTE: This garment should only be made on a doll with full porcelain arms as the arm will show through the gauze sleeve).

After you have gathered the fabric, seal each of the threads with a drop of glue to keep the gathers from coming out.

Make certain that the gathers are even.  Pin natural looking folds to your ironing board, steam and let dry. The best pins to use are insect pins (available from by Rachelle) as they are very fine and will not leave noticeable holes in the fabric.  You can make the folds more permanent by spraying a small amount of unscented hair spray, or other stiffening product of your choice, over the folds and letting the fabric dry again. 

If you are dressing a doll, fold the nightgown around the doll and over the bust so that the seam is up the center back.  Glue or sew it closed.  (If making the garment by itself, you should close the back seam at this time as well.)

Click here to download pdf Sleeve Pattern

Trace the sleeve pattern on the unwaxed side of freezer paper.  Cut out and turn the pattern over to trace a second sleeve. 


Using a warm iron, lightly iron the freezer paper patterns onto a piece of cotton gauze.  Keep the iron fairly cool and don’t press hard with the iron.  You want the wax/plastic on the paper to gently adhere to the fabric; not to saturate it. 

Cut out the sleeves by cutting the fabric around the edge of the paper pattern.  The freezer paper will keep the gauze stiff, which will make it much easier to cut accurately.
Peel the cut sleeves from the paper. It will easily pull away. Seal all edges by running a very fine line of glue all the way around. Allow to dry thoroughly.


Glue a piece of lace along  the bottom edge of each sleeve.

Sew a row of running stitches along the top edge of each sleeve, leaving a tail of thread to pull later. Sew another row of running stitches at the top of the lace trim where it joins the sleeve fabric (going through both layers of fabric).  Leave a tail to gather.


Fold each sleeve right sides together and close underarm seams by gluing or sewing.  Press. 


Pull the threads at the top of the sleeve so that the armhole opening, when laid flat, measures one half inch.  Tie the threads to keep in place.  If you are dressing a doll, slip a sleeve on the doll’s arm and pull up gathers to fit at the shoulder.


Insert a pencil or small dowel into the sleeve and draw up the gathers in the bottom of the sleeve to fit the pencil (or if dressing a doll. gather to fit the doll's arm size).

Slipstitch or glue the underarm portion of the sleeve to the body of the nightgown. Attach as neatly as possible.

Repeat above steps for the second sleeve.



Cut two 1 ” pieces of braid or other trimming for the shoulders. Neatly seal the cut edges with glue to keep it from unravelling. 


Starting at the first (top) gather on the bodice, glue or sew the trimming up along the raw edge of the sleeve.  

Continue over the top of the shoulder and down to the first gather on the back of the gown.

Repeat for the second sleeve.

Make  two tiny bows with 2mm silk ribbon.  Cut short, angled  tails and attach one bow over each of the the front raw edges of the shoulder trimming
. Your nightgown is ready to hang on a hanger or display in a miniature setting.


Copyright Rachelle Spiegel 2004
Not to be reproduced or distributed.
  Please feel free to print one copy for your own personal use.