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Smocked Christmas Ornament

Updated: May 3, 2023

Smocking isn’t only reserved for heirloom garments. We love putting our beautiful handwork on a gift that will quickly become a treasured Christmas ornament for many years to come. Choose any smocking plate with up to 9 rows and let's get smocking!

Let us help you get started by purchasing a kit complete with a pleated insertion, floss, free geometric smocking design, and double faced satin ribbon. Multiple options available while supplies last.


5 ½” x 40” Pleated Insertion with 11 rows pleated* Floss* Ribbon 3/8” wide – 2 yards* 3” Styrofoam ball (this size exactly) Craft glue

*items included in one of our pre-made kits!


1. Pleat 11 rows. If you have more rows than this, remove rows so that there are 11. Cut off any excess fabric beyond 40 inches. If you have medium quilting weight fabric, trim strip to 38 inches. 2. Pull pleater threads out one pleat from each end on both sides. Tie off center 7 threads to 7 – 8 inches. Tie off 2 upper rows and 2 lower rows to 11 – 12 inches between knots. These rows are kept long to make construction easier in later steps. 3. Choose up to a 9-row smocking design. Center the design vertically so that the middle rows of the design are stitched in the middle rows of the insert. There should be an equal amount of unused space at the upper and the lower edge of the insert. If you are using a design with an even number of rows you will have to adjust rows by a half space to center the design on the ball. Upper and lower rows will be holding rows. Back smock if needed.

Smocking - Method 1

4. Complete smocking design from first to last pleat.

5. When smocking is finished, remove all of the pleating threads except the top two and the bottom two. 6. Trim the fabric as close as possible to the top and bottom threads without cutting the thread.

7. Fold the insert with right sides together lining up smocking rows and the first and last pleats. Pin in place at each row. Stitch ends together between the first and second pleat of each edge (by hand or machine). Turn right side out and place ball inside. Distribute pleats evenly around the ball and pin fabric to the ball around the center line of smocking. 8. Skip ahead to step 15 to complete construction.

Smocking - Method 2 "In the Round"

9. When constructing the Christmas ball "in the round," choose a smocking design with a repeat of 12 pleats or less. All smocking is started on the first pleat on the left edge of the insert. Begin with the smocking row with the widest design repeat/motif. Smock this row first all the way across stopping one stitch short of finishing the last repeat that will completely fit on the row. Remove the needle keeping thread tails long and on top of the insert. The unused pleats to the right will be removed at a later step. 10. Complete smocking of all other rows starting on the left and leaving thread tails long at the end of each smocked row. The smocking will end at the same pleat for each row. 11. When smocking is finished, remove all of the pleating threads except the top two and the bottom two. 12. Clip threads close to the knots on remaining pleater threads on the right edge of the insert, but do not completely remove threads. Remove these threads from the unused pleats at the right side of the smocking. Tie off threads again keeping them as long as possible. Trim excess fabric leaving a ¼ inch seam allowance.

13. Fold insert with wrong sides together. Fold under seam allowances on both ends and place pleated ends together. Line up smocking rows. Thread smocking threads from one row and stitch over to the corresponding row connecting them with the appropriate smocking stitch. Drop thread to the back of fabric between the final pleats piercing through the seam allowance. Remove needle, rethread and continue finishing the final stitch of each row. 14. Very carefully turn insert with the wrong side out. Give each smocking thread a gentle tug and then knot each one. Turn insert right side out and place over the styrofoam ball. Distribute pleats evenly around the ball and pin fabric to the ball around the center line of smocking.

Final Construction

15. Find a cup or glass with a rim that has a 3” diameter. Sit the smocked ball on the glass so that both hands are free. Clip smocking thread knots and pull the corresponding thread ends together to cinch up the fabric to fit the ball. Tie threads into secure knots. Repeat with remaining pleater threads. Hide thread tails between pleats. A few pins can be used at the top of the ball to further secure fabric if needed. Drop a little craft glue along the top raw edges of the fabric. 16. To make the “topper” cut three ribbon pieces 6 ½ inches long and cut one 12 inches long. 17. For the top ribbon loop, use the 12 inch piece of ribbon and make a small loop around your pointer finger. Continue looping this ribbon for a second time, making a large loop to be used as the hanger for the ornament. Glue the ends together and secure with a pin through the center.

18. Wrap each 6 ½ inch ribbon like a “crazy 8.” Place a small drop of craft glue at each layer. Repeat with the remaining two ribbons, stacking and gluing them together to create a fanned-out bow. Pierce these ribbons through the center with the pin holding the other looped ribbons to form the topper.

19. Secure the “topper” to the top of the ornament with a straight pin and a drop of glue on the pin. 20. Flip the ball over and place on the glass to finish the bottom. Refer to step #15. 21. For the bottom of the ornament, cut three ribbon pieces 6 ½” long and cut one 3” piece. 22. Use the 3” piece to make a small loop to finish the middle of the bow. Glue and secure with a pin in the center. 23. Repeat steps 18 – 19.

Designed by Melissa Sansom

Click the printer icon below for printable version.


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