I still remember my favourite dress growing up. It was navy blue and smocked with pale blue tulips. I just adored it. I think my sister had a matching one in pale green.
Smocking is still a popular design feature in children's clothing, but most of it is pretty poor quality. Hand smocking is labour intensive, which makes it very expensive. But if you are looking for luxurious smocked outfits, look no further than Bois de Rose. Situated in the heart of Paris, Bois de Rose specializes in delicious smocked dresses (their website is in both French and English). I ran into this store two years ago while I was walking through the Latin Quarter with my mom. They were closed, but we peered through the window in astonishment. I had never seen such beautiful children's clothing (they have great things for both boys and girls and in an amazing variety of fabrics). They are truly little works of art. They are the Hermes of children's clothes! For the truly indulgent, Bois de Rose will even create matching dresses for your daughter and her doll! If you are ever in Paris, this shop is a must-see! I'm expecting the arrival of a neice in June, so this is one place I have to shop while I'm in Paris.
If you are drawn to the design appeal of smocking but want to avoid the hefty price tag, there is a smocking association, the Smocking Art Guild of America, and numerous websites that cater to smockers. If you want to learn to smock on your own, A-Z of Smocking is a comprehensive resource with easy to follow instructions and clear illustrations for all of the stitches(the company that publishes this book also publishes a smocking magazine in Australia--who knew smocking was popular enough to have its own magazine?).
In other news, only two more days until I leave for Paris! I'm so excited! But I'm also a little freaked out--I need to have my thesis all finished before I go. Right now I'm in the process of doing my last bits of editing and writing my abstract. I will be so glad to be done with this!