The surprise sewing project is a smock! Click on image for greater detail.

Any chance you guessed I was making the Swing Swing Smock from “Bend-the-Rules Sewing“? That’s what I sewed for my little pal, F, daughter of my longtime pal, Lori O’Neil, who blogs over at Imperfectly Living.

F shows off her new reversible apron. Photos via the O’Neils.

F likes to help her mom, dad, and grandparents in the kitchen, but the poor kid didn’t have an apron. Can you imagine? Seeing an opportunity to aid a friend in need, I whipped up this smock. It took me about four hours over three days, and it was really easy. It’s also one of my favorite projects to date! I am tickled with how it turned out, and, most importantly, F is very excited about it. (Her parents tell me she doesn’t like to take it off, and if that’s not a success, I don’t know what is.)

The two sides have contrasting pockets, and the shoulder seams reveal the print on the other side. Click on image for greater detail.

Following are notes on the smock:

  • I made it reversible, which means I cut two smocks from two different fabrics. That way, if one side is messy, it can be turned inside out without missing a beat. That’s how you maximize time between laundering. Booyah. (Plus, it gave me the opportunity to have super-cute contrasting pockets! Double booyah.)
  • I sewed the two smock fronts right sides together, leaving an opening, and then turned the smock out through the opening. Before I did the turning, I clipped corners to remove bulk. A tube turner was really useful here to push the corners and edges out. The opening was secured with bias binding.
  • The directions call for sewing the shoulder seams before sewing the pocket to the smock. I think this is bad advice. It’s easier to maneuver the not sewn, flat smock under the presser foot than having to worry about sewing through the wrong layers.
  • The directions also call for sewing the bias binding without pinning it. According to Amy Karol, author of the book and blogger over at the wildly popular Angry Chicken, “It is much easier to do this (stitch through all layers) without pinning first.” I definitely would not tell a novice sewer to skip pinning! It’s a recipe for sliding the binding off the edge of the fabric and sewing it shut. Karol plays a little fast and loose, which can be dangerous for a beginner. I like her “just jump in there!” attitude, but lazy directions can yield unsatisfactory results for sewers who don’t know any better. In that way, her book is better for experienced sewers, i.e., sewers who can work around bad advice. (For more discussion on sewing and philosophy, check out this post.)
  • The smock is cute, cute, cute, and it’s something that F can wear for a long time! The design is made for a growing cook/crafter/artist. I’ll probably make one for Paul when he shows interest in becoming my sous chef.


F is put to work. Worry not: her parents adhere to all child labor laws. (Actually, she’s a very tidy person who likes to put things away. A girl after my own heart!) Photo via the O’Neils.

What’s your favorite sewing project for a youngster? Can you suggest books about sewing for kids, especially boys? (I feel like there are a bunch with projects for girls.) Share, please!

For your daily dose of adorable, F gives Paul a kiss!

P.S. You can check out more projects from “Bend-the-Rules Sewing” at the book’s Flickr group.