Prairie Smock

comments: 82


Over the weekend, I made a different kind of smock. A smocky tunic blouse. This is New Look pattern 6707 (* bought it and the fabric last fall and just getting around to making it now, so it might be discontinued but available at this link, I think). I combined views C and D. D had the shorter poufier sleeves and the ties in back. The C had no tucks on the yoke. I wore it all day yesterday and got some weird looks at the mall. But I guess this isn't really a mall outfit. It's what you'd wear while walking through a wheatfield, or with Wellies while carrying a basket of freckled eggs, and not shopping at Sephora? Maybe shopping at Crabtree & Evelyn. I could see that. I wish Laura Ashley still had stores in the U.S. I miss Laura so much. She's very different now.


This blouse/dress reminds me of a dress I got at Pier One about twenty years ago when they used to have clothes. It was the summer between high school and college and I was working at TravelHost magazine in Chicago. It was a very rainy summer morning and I woke up very, very crabby. And late. And tired. Which was pretty typical of me then. My mom was going to drive me to the El. TravelHost was in a great location, at 6 N. Michigan Ave., and the Wabash El was only about two blocks away from the office. Not important. So my mom was waiting for me in the front yard, and I had on a new dress, long, cream colored with Indian embroidery. It was the first time I was wearing it. I crankily came out onto the porch, opened my umbrella, started going down the stairs and then immediately slipped and came crashing, loudly, with my umbrella and lunchbox, down the rest of them, landing in a muslin heap on the sidewalk. "Waaaaahhhhhhhh!!!" said I, mournfully. "Oh my gosh!!!" gasped my horrified mom, and ran over to help me up. My dress was sopping wet and muddy, and naturally I had landed right on top of an enormous red earthworm (sorry worm!), which smooshed into a big, bloody, gooey smear all over the front of my dress. So it was back inside to change out of the new dress, and I will tell you that the earthworm stain never came out. And I do seem to fall down on the porch a lot what is that.


Usually I don't like things that tie in the back, but when it's sort of long like this over something it's kind of aprony and that's okay. I used little covered buttons in the contrast fabric. I also did all of the buttonholes by hand which I can tell you takes at least 417 times longer than doing them by machine. I am soooooooo bad at doing buttonholes by machine that I just parked myself and spent pretty much an entire movie doing the buttonholes, and I have to say they look very nice. I don't know if it was worth it, but I thought I'd give them a shot, just to see. Will probably try to get better on the machine, though. . . .


I have gotten more for-myself-inteded sewing, smocking, and embroidery done in the last month than I have in the past four years combined, I think. I'm starting to feel very guilty about it, not to mention very, very broke since I really need to update my web shop with new stuff, but I can't seem to stop indulging these impulses. This week, though. Must change. I kind of knew this would happen. The minute I finished the book it's like I just went completely berserker and started fourteen things for myself in about five minutes. I have finished quite a few things at this point. In order to get this much done, it's quite helpful to have no life whatsoever. That's pretty much how I do it, for those who have asked.


Just found your email Love your smock and being 83 years old maybe I could get awasy with wearing it at the Mall Whatta think Jean

Love your smock Alicia (and Jean's comment) :-} Perfect with Wellie boots! Your silkscreened images are gorgeous. I love the whimsical glitter coming out of the dutch oven. Gifts made by hand are just the best.

Wow.. ok.. I must now go find that pattern.. although I do worry that it will make me look pregnant once again ( after 6 times people are coming to expect it) It's so funny that you mention Pier One.. I was just talking to my teen daughter about the fact that they use to sell the best clothes!.. alas I don't like them near as much these days.. I am much more *granny* than Africa hip.


Considering the things I've seen people wear to the mall, your smock must have been a breath of fresh air. And just so you know, you do have a life and it is very inspiring!

That looks absolutely gorgeous and very spring! It seems like if you are inclined to do a lot of projects for yourself then you must need to do them. You certainly deserve them! Thanks for the inspiration!!

Oh, yeah! Pier 1 used to have clothes! I kind of forgot that... I miss those clothes! Most of them didn't fit right, but every once in awhile, there was a total find (like your dress... I had one too). And jewelry... they had neat jewelry.

In other news, your smock's adorable!

I love your smock. The trim on the collar matching the puff sleeves- swoon! I think your a bit nutty doing buttonholes by hand, but what the hell? Sometimes you gotta try it, no matter what 'it' is. Smashing, darling. It turned out smashing!

I love your smock - can so see it with pants, wellies, and big flowy headband. I believe I have this pattern as well. After our lots of rain over the weekend I am seriously going to buy some wellies! I am sure you looked cute. And love Andy's Valentine's day present.

The smock is adorable! I once witnessed a gal falling out of a van, she had one of those strapless smocked dresses on, can't remembeer what they were called back in the 70's. Anyways she fell, the dress caught on the side of the van and it ripped the entire dress off over her head as she continued to fall to the ground. It was horrible, fascinating and hysterical all at the same time.

Ah yes, Laura Ashley...although we still have the shops here, Laura is sadly gone, and her style with her. Her daughter Emma designs for Elanbach though - they have some nice fabrics that are a bit like the old Laura Ashley.

It's a beautiful dress, mall or no mall. I would wear it, although I am a huge fan of Little House on the Prairie, still, to this day, calico bonnets and all, so I am not sure how much my opinion should be taken into account.
Fabulous dress, fabulous windmill jewelry box in the background, fabulous you.

Your blouse is very cute and has a very nostalgic feel to me. I wore those same sleeves sometime in the late 60's to early 70's on several dresses that I made. It was considered a very "mod" look at the time and not something that you'd wear in the wheat fields. LOL. Thanks for reawakening the many great memories that I have buried deep within. Your posts always seem to do that for me.

That's very cute. I miss the Laura Ashley stores too. I think when she died the company lost it's creative force. Who knows who's doing the designing now.

Ok, you are the best story teller. I was laughing till I had tears in my eyes.
The earthworm detail is just so tragically funny. Sorry about your old dress. I loved Pier 1's clothes, too.
Love the new smock!

I sure wish I had bumped into you at the mall in the smock. I hope I would have had the nerve to say "I like your smock." But I'd probably have just admired it from a distance, knowing me.

I love it! (and I miss Laura Ashley, too..)

Pier 1 used to have clothes? Who knew? I love this smock, I would totally wear it to the mall..I would rather be in a wheat field, though..

The only look you would have gotten from me is 'There is hope for the world, yet.'

I love it.

yay jean! it is amazing to me how you remember the details of your life. those things that would be forgettable to most of us. it's so great.

i loved laura ashley from the 1980s when i really became an anglophile. my wedding dress was hers and it didn't need any alternations - i can still get it on, but it would need alterations now ;). the quality of the cotton was so fine and soft.

cath kidston is similar, but her color palette just seems to be a bit bolder than laura ashley.

love your poufy sleeves on the smock - pouf seems to becoming an alicia trend.

I love this! I think it's adorable...maybe not mall-dress, but hey, why not?? I bet you looked fabulous :)

Also, I never knew Pier One had clothes, ever.

And I miss Laura Ashley too!

OH MY! I love it, it looks so pretty. I have that pattern and I think I may give it a go after seeing your results.

Your smock is lovely! I especially like the covered buttons. I must say that in 45 years of sewing, I don't think I have ever made a buttonhole by hand...I'm very impressed! I too miss Laura Ashley...I am always looking for vintage things of hers on eBay. April Cornell was a good substitute, I thought, but after reorganization she only has three actual stores in the US. Lots of cute stuff on her website though.

Alas after a quick trip to the fabric store it seems that this is not a current season pattern?? It's not in the Spring New Look book that is at my local Hanckocks.. ~insert big gasping sobs~. I did find a few other patterns in another book that might work with a bit of tweaking if anyone is interested.
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Love the memory of the fall, earthworm, and muslin from Pier I. I had a smocky type blouse my mom made me in the late 70's. It was my favorite shirt. One time I came home and my roomate at college was wearing it. I was so furious! But it came to a bad end much like your worm stain. I was in a car accident in it. It wasn't a horrible accident but the car was totaled. I did lose consciousness and needed stitches in my side. The paramedics cut it off me!!!! I was more mad about the blouse than I was the accident. Stupid. I still remember wearing it and feeling so good in it.

I need a smocky thing to wear over my clothes while I sew sometimes. yours is way too nice for that. Yours is darling. I think you could wear it anywhere!

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at