Handmade Summer Smock

I think it might just be the dream of every young artist to have a perfect apron or smock. Can that actually be true? I think maybe it is. The quest for a studio smock or durable stylish apron seems to be tried and true. I didn't spend many of my childhood summer's at camp--living on the edge of the forest with gardens growing wild and a pool in the backyard kept my summer days conveniently close to my mama--but I do remember a few weeks at the local summer camp when our public schools were transformed into summer playgrounds for the local kids.

Of course, I remember the water activities and the Popsicles, but I especially remember the art activities. I remember the friendship bracelets, the boondoggle, the woven hot pads, and the coveted jars full of colorful plastic beads. And I remember a smock. One of the camp counselors had an art smock and I wanted a smock just like hers for my very own.

Fast-forward about, oh, 30 summers or so and here I find myself with my very first summer smock. Hooray! A true smock. Or as Wikipedia calls it a "Smock-frock--a coatlike outer garment often worn to protect the clothes". Okay, mine isn't quite an outer garment but it is coatlike and, in time, I think it might be worn for messier studio activities especially in the heat of summer.

This is the first time in 20 years I've made a dress using a pattern made by somebody else. It's true--I've been reinventing my own dress pattern since I first started making dresses in high school. I'm happy to say I've learned a thing or two from using an actual pattern. And, I confess, it makes me want to research other patterns until I find my steadfast loves.

I'm also happy to say that my tendencies are my tendencies--I just don't like top-stitching by machine unless I'm making a quilt and then the lines must be very, very straight or they must be chaotic. I prefer to hand-stitch most bindings and top seams as I prefer the finished look and I have much more control in my stitching this way. (Experienced seamstresses and designers--please feel free to pass along your favorite tips. I'm all ears!) So I stitched all the binding by hand but left the stitches on the dress bodice to be done by machine. 

The main fabric for the dress is from Lotta Jansdotter's collection, Echo, and this fabric specifically is "Ironwood Aneta". (I think it looks like pebbles or rain.) I absolutely love her fabric designs--they have just the right amount of nature-inspired bohemian print meets edited modern aesthetic for my own liking. And she often only designs in two colors--the main color and the contrasting white--and as a natural "maximalist" this helps me keep focus. The binding is from Anna Maria Horner's line Fieldstudy and it's the only time I've ever purchased an entire set of fat quarters from the same series because I love these fabric designs that much.

I think I'll go back to my usual non-pattern dressmaking in the near future but this has created an interest in learning more about actual pattern making. Perhaps making my own patterns would help me avoid ripping out so many seams when making my clothes? Hmm. Thank you, Sonya Philip, for sharing this beautiful smock pattern in your dressmaking class. I'm so interested in seeing how other artists are adapting their skills towards garment making and witnessing how Sonya created this pattern for her own project, wardrobe, and for her classes was a huge inspiration.

Now, it just needs to get warm enough in Oakland to actually wear this new smock before our unofficial summer weather arrives in September. Oh, well. I'm not going to hold my breath for a warm Oakland August so I'll have to pair it with a trusty cardigan. Dear September, I'll be ready and waiting.



  1. Replies
    1. thank you, sweet lady! sonya is THE best. xoxo

  2. Katrina, I just love your recent creations! I love the designs and fabric choices... I would buy them in a heartbeat! :-) Hope you have a great weekend, sweet friend!

    1. oh, you are so kind! i've thought about selling garments but i'm scared away by proper sizing. maybe one day i'll find the right seamstress. you are good cheer. xoxo.

  3. I will start by saying, "very cute" smock. I love the colors and the idea of many hours spend with it swinging and swaying as wet medium may splash, smear and spill over long hours of art making.
    I have aprons that I use, then forget, bring back out and use again for various projects too. (my home projects have been temporarily forgotten about along with my social life for now too. Such is the life of a business owner) My absolute favorite part of this is the imagery of summer cohesion. I have been thinking about it all week, since I first read this. I thought about everything from who was in with us (me and Nick) and who our counselors were to remembering that I crashed my bike on Grand Central once and some nice ladies had to come help me. ugh. Thank you for the trip down memory lane. It was a nice visit.

    P.S. Did you know that the point of boondoggle is to keep kids busy and quiet? I have resented those little plastic strips for many years. The trickery.

    1. beth! i love your comment. i wasn't sure anybody would know what i was talking about if i said, "summer cohesion" so i love that you used that phrase. it was our country kid version of public school summer camp. and the boondoggle was out-of-this-world. and the smocks. yes, i just recently learned that "boondoggle" means a project that is considered pointless. i say, no way. xoxoxoh.


Thank you for your comments, friends. I like to think we are creating a dialogue in this space--building a virtual community.