Info on What you need to Make a Smocked Bishop Dress

After numerous requests we have gathered together all the supplies you need for making a bishop dress, history and a short version on how to make a bishop dress.  (Please bear with us as we are working on developing this page.  Check back soon for more information.)

A smocked bishop dress, as the heirloom sewing world refers to it, has evolved from the past as a comfortable garment to wear.

Supplies needed:

A Bishop Pattern in the size range you need

GK#17 Peasant Bishop

The original bishop pattern now revised to include all sizes.
Short Sleeves, Long Sleeves and new button down front version
Sizes 1-10

Price $12.00
Quantity requested    

All the Bishop Patterns We Carry
Neckline Shaping Guide - Very important.

Bishop, Yoke & Collar Guide is a versatile aid to use from the start to finishing of the smocked garment, but it Bishop or Yoke, Collar or Insert.  Neckline sizings are from an 18" doll sized neck, Preemie/Newborn up to Adult.  Actual size is 14" x 14".

Also included is a Scallop Guide for Hems and Collars  for scallop sizes 1", 1 1/2", 2", 2 1/2", 3", 3 1/2" & 4".

Ellen McCarn's Smock & Block Guide

Price $6.00
Quantity requested    

Patterns that include a neckline guide are Pat Garretson and Ellen McCarn and each issue of Australian Smocking & Embroidery that contains a bishop dress pattern comes with a neckline guide.   All other bishop patterns require a separate neckline blocking guide .

The bishop style can be made in several ways besides the primary dress.

Here are the many variations of a bishop dress available with the Chery William's Bishop

CW#102 Bishop - Girls: 2-6 or 6-12 years

The bishop dress is one of the staple designs in the smocking world. You really can't go wrong in making one for your little girl. There are so many variations possible depending upon the fabric you use from fancy to a regular dress. For older girls the waisted and dropwaist bodice styles are especially flattering as well as the smocked bishop blouse.

Your style choices are:

  • Sleeveless overlay collar dress
  • Angel sleeve dress
  • Short sleeve dress
  • Long sleeve dress
  • Short sleeve Blouse/Dropwaist Bodice
  • Long sleeve Blouse/Dropwaist Bodice
  • Button-down the front or back or placket closure.
CW Bishop $14.00
Two Size Ranges: 2-6 years; 6-12 years

Price $14.00
Quantity requested    

The bishop book from Country Bumpkin comes with patterns as well as a neckline guide.

Beautiful Bishops by the publishers of ASE- $25.00

From the publishers of Australian Smocking & Embroidery comes the latest compliation book filled with 9 glorious bishop dresses from newborn to 6 years.  Patterns are included along with the step-by-step photographs on how to complete your garments.

  • Primrose - White Swiss Voile Ensemble with embroidered pansies & ribbon bows 12-18mos-2yrs (on cover)
  • English Rose - Ivory bishop dress with Nottingham galloon lace embellished with exquisite embroidery - 6-18mos
  • Lily - Pink blush dress and matching knickers with delicate shadow work bow with roses - 6-18mos
  • Cherry Blossom - Demure dusky floral bishop dress with short bound sleeves - 3-6yrs
  • Angelica - Shimmering ivory silk dupion bishop dress prefect for Baptisms or special occasions. 6-18mos
  • Forget-me-not - Front opening bishop dress embroidered with dainty blooms - 4-6yrs
  • Sweet Pea - Gorgeous cream lace and fine batiste bishop, embellished with dusky pink roses. - 6-18 most
  • Marguerite - Bishop variation featuring a round drop yoke with short bound sleeves - 2-6yrs
  • Poppy - Dainty Robia voile bishop dress with short smocked sleeves and bullion embroidery - Newborn - 6 mos
  • Essential Undergarments - Petticoat and knickers to add the perfect finishing touch to your bishop dress - 3-18mos & 2yrs.

Price $25.00
Quantity requested    

You will also need a smocking design which has been created with the uniqueness of a bishop dress in mind, that is with a flowing pattern on the bottom rather than closed up with a border on top and bottom which is suited for an insert or yoke dress.  On the examples below see how the bottom of the design opens up and lends itself to the flowing out of pleats that bishop dresses and blouses are famous for.  These designs can be used for children as well as adults as the patterns repeat.

Two new designs from Ellen McCarn - $3.50 each

EM Laura Mae

Price $3.50
Quantity requested    

EM Rosann

Price $3.50
Quantity requested    

Two lovely designs created for the smocked collar, a variation of the round smocked bishop dress/blouse.

A smocked collar appeared as a variation in the Chery Williams pattern for adding a special touch on a smocked dress.  There are two ways to do a smocked collar upon a bishop dress.  The first is to make it detachable to make a dress more fancy for special occasions.  Add a beautiful lace edging to the bottom of the collar piece makes for a lovely mantle effect, perfect in church settings (as shown above in Kay Guiles' Roses for Marie plate). Or if you prefer you can pleat the collar along with the dress.  This is bit of an advanced technique in pleating as the layers may shift unless you have totally basted the collar to the dress.  Chery did an excellent job in instructing you on the proper technique.  Her instructions can be found in her bishop pattern (shown above)  The detachable bishop collar can be used on any style under dress, wether it be a basic square yoke, a-line or basque waistline.  (show images of all of these).  You can also consider a detachable collar as an investment in patience when the gravy spills on the dress because you were able to take it off before dinner.  My daughter's favorite dress was one that I found in of all places a chance trip to the Salvation Army.  It was a Liberty of London fabric, tiny floral print in shades of French Blue and Grey with tiny peachy salmon flowers.  At the neckline was an attached smocked collar, attached to the neckline of a drop-waisted dress with a ribbon and bow just at the hipline, the skirt flaired out.  It fell just below the knee of my tall daughter.

More Smocking Design plates we carry, click here.

What is the difference between a Basic Square Yoke Dress and a Bishop?  How did each of these styles evolve?

The bishop dress evolved from the bishop neckline worn as nightwear or undergarments. The neckline was easily controlled by a string, bias tape or ribbon. Today we can use a combination of elastic or simple bias band, if the neckline is secured or fastened by a button or ribbon.

One of the main differences between the bishop dress and the Basic Square Yoke Dress is how the sleeves are set into the garment and that it is partially constructed by sewing the sleeves to the backs and front before pleating.

Here is a basic raglan sleeved garment (Folkwears #103 Roumanian Blouse - smocked).  See how the sleeves are attached to the back and front on an angle? When stretched out this becomes a long rectangle of two varying depths of the front/back and the two sleeves.

This long piece is sewn together with very tiny french seams, tiny because you need them small in order to send them through the pleater with ease.  Bulky seams are the enemy of your pleater needles.

The bishop style, by the way, gives a nice flowing shape to the wearer ... such as young girls with tummies or when you want room to move

Folkwear #103 Roumanian Blouse

Price $16.95
Quantity requested    

Here is an example of the Basic Square Yoke (Pattern shown is Chery William's Basic Square Yoke Dress).  Note how the sleeves are set into the yoke, the smocking is then attached to the yoke on the front (and/or back) after it is smocked, not before.  While the skirt flows from the smocking the yoke is form fitting. Also shown is the full bodice style where the smocking flows from the shoulder seams.


Chery Williams Basic Square Yoke Dress

CW127 Basic Square Yoke - Girls: 2-6 or 6-12 years

Price $14.00
Quantity requested    

For ladies we also have bishop blouse patterns available. Please click here to see our offerings Ladies Patterns We Carry.

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