This is one of the options that the girls had when they came over for that t-shirt decorating activity that I last posted about. None of them wanted to try it, but I had already smocked this shirt and wore it the night they came over.
I found the idea in a book called, Alternacrafts, by Jessica Vitkus. According to the book, smocking was invented by the Anglo-Saxons centuries ago. Today, you can find little girl dresses with a smocking design on the front of the bodice.
This is a simplified way of smocking--in fact, it doesn't take too much time and you probably have all the materials on hand. I took a plain-colored t-shirt, then turned it inside out. I used a dress maker's pencil to mark three rows of "x's", all about 2 inches apart. It's best to mark the first x in the center of the shirt about two inches down from the collar. That gives you a great start. Then, work your way to the left and right of that first x and mark two more on each side. You'll then have five x's in a row. The second row will only have four x's; start that row two inches down from the first row and place them between the five x's. Your third row will have five x's and be lined up like the first row. You need to start that row two inches down from the second row.
To sew the tucks, pinch the fabric to form a vertical pleat with an X right in the middle of it. The vertical line of the pleat should cut right through the center of the X. Sew a stitch (using thread that matches the color of your shirt) about 1/4 inch deep, perpendicular to the pleat edge. Bring the needle and thread through the pleat three or four times and then knot the thread. Do all of the x's this way.
When your done, turn the t-shirt inside out and you've got your own smocked t-shirt to wear!