Technology (iPad) and Smocking

First, let me preface that I am a far cry from being a technological wizard.  LOL!  This statement alone will send my husband into hysterical laughter!  So for those that are technologically advanced or under the age of 40, this post isn’t for you unless you just want a good laugh, which I’m happy to provide.   However, for the old mature ladies that may also suffer from technological challenges as well as poor vision, you’ll want to keep reading!  I am sure that I have at least one mature smocker on the edge of her seat at this moment!!!  (well, in my imagination I do anyway!)

My eyesight has never been good, and as I’ve become a woman of a certain age, my eyesight has diminished as well.  This isn’t a good thing when it comes to smocking and embroidery.  You do actually need to “see” what you’re doing to be successful at it.  I do use magnification when stitching, and that is so helpful, but I needed even more help than that!  This is where my iPad comes in.

My husband is always helping me and looking for ways to make it easier for me to do the things that I enjoy – particularly smocking.  I was thrilled to learn that I could enlarge (to ginormous proportions!) my smocking designs.  He has the iPad set up so that I can access all my documents – therefore, all the smocking designs that I’ve designed.  (I know many of you are so smart and already know this stuff, but I needed his help!)  Not only do I have access to my smocking designs, but I also have access to all the free designs that can be downloaded from the internet as well as the PDF smocking designs available for purchase.

Prior to Christmas, I purchased Janet Gilbert’s Elf design and smocked it on a dress for my granddaughter.  My husband observed me trying to do the balancing act with my iPad perilously perched on the arm of my easy chair while smocking the insert for the dress.  No easy task!  He immediately researched and purchased an iPad stand.  He gave it to me for Christmas!  Oh – how sweet it is!!!  I’ve used this several times already!


My armchair isn’t pictured – I had to resort to a chair that I could carry into the photography room as I’m not a photographer either!   Observe how fabulous this device is – I can adjust it to any level and get it as close to my eyes as needed!  As easily portable as it is, I can pack it up and take it on vacation with me as well.  This was a win!!!


This stand is stable, can be adjusted and/or rotated.  The upper portion of the stand is flexible, so can be bent to just the right place.  You could also use this standing up if you wanted to use it as a music stand.  What a fabulous addition to my smocking “tools”.  The iPad stays securely attached.

In case you haven’t noticed, I have that smocking design zoomed in to gigantic so that every stitch is easily seen!!!  You can do this!


In case you’re interested, the smocking design is one of mine that was featured in Sew Beautiful magazine (July 2011) and is a free download on their website.  Perfect for your summer smocking!

My latest smocking project using my iPad and stand has been a baptism outfit for our new grandson.  I downloaded the free cross design from Michié.  She has generously shared so many free designs on her blog – you definitely want to check it out.  I zoomed in on that one and finished up his outfit.  It is so sweet and he’ll be wearing it in a few weeks when he is baptized.


Even more recently, I have discovered that I can use my iPad as a light-box of sorts to trace embroidery designs.  In order to do this, I first had to adjust the brightness on my iPad.  Go to the iPad settings, find the brightness and adjust it there.  If you don’t have a clue about this, you can go to the website linked  here and it gives instructions that anyone can follow (picture from the website).

Ipad brightness adjust


After adjusting the brightness as bright as it will go, I pulled up the embroidery design that I wanted to trace.  It is just a bit tricky as  you must have one hand on the screen to hold it in place (keep it from moving around) while you’re tracing.  But, with sheer fabrics and a size embroidery design that fits the screen of the iPad, this works pretty well.


I hope that this has helped at least one of my sewing friends – after all, we all want to be able to enjoy the fine art of embroidery and smocking as long as we have eyes to see and hands that can still stitch!

So, with that, this technological non-wizard will sign off and get back to some sewing and smocking!

Happy stitching……



14 thoughts on “Technology (iPad) and Smocking

    1. Kathy Post author

      I’ll ask! LOL! He set it up in a “cloud” or something. Will let you know if I find out and it’s easy to describe. 🙂

  1. Nancy Figur

    Can I just say, “be still my heart” – I love it. I really didn’t think about blowing the smocking stuff up on my screen. I have been enlarging the designs on my printer. I can’t believe that I didn’t think to do that since my IPad is practically an appendage on my body. I go nowhere without it. I think being able to enlarge the design is part of it and the resolution of the screen also helps.
    I can get my documents on my Ipad (or the ones I want to be able to get) by installing Dropbox on my Ipad and on my laptop. It was a free download and anything in your “Dropbox” can be accessed on any device. My teacher daughter told me about it. They are pretty much a paper free school and they use it in many ways. It is also good because sometimes you want to send an attachment that is too big to send, You just send it to the dropbox as long as both parties have one. It is free and easy to use.

    I love that cross deisng and have tried to smock it but it didn’t look like yours – haha. I might try again but looking at it on my Ipad. I love the Christening outfit.

    1. Kathy Post author

      So glad that I could help!!! The enlarged design is so clear and easy to read on the iPad – much easier than enlarged by copy machine paper copies. LOL! The things we learn…..

  2. Angela Lee

    Yes, yes, yes! Ingenious! The idea of using the ipad for light is also ingenious. Guess how many times I’ve taped paper to my window then held up my fabric to trace it?? LOL

  3. Terry Collins

    Brilliant! I have used my iPad to blow up designs I’ve found on the Internet because I can’t really see anything small anymore. I have a real light box that I used to trace a PDF pattern with once upon a time. Just a warning not to use permanent marker to trace anything on the iPad. I did on my real light box and when I was done, the marker remained on the glass. Fortunately rubbing alcohol removed it from the glass. I don’t think I’d want to put rubbing alcohol on my iPad though!

  4. Linda from IA

    I am doing a quilt with hand embroidered designs. Does this make sense. Scan the pattern on my printer, save it to a file, email it to myself. Open the file I send, and then trace? I know I have a cloud, and probably do not utilize it at all except for storage. And with the small piece of fabric, I think the edges will lay past the screen and I could blue tape it to the back of my iPad and trace. Brilliant Kathy. My light box is in the storage area and you know…..


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