The most elegant stitch to embellish your smocking is, by far (in my opinion), the Bullion Rose. There are as many ways to stitch a Bullion Rose in smocking as there are in embroidery, and after you try this one, try your own variations.

This rose is stitched in two shades of the same color across 4 pleats. Start with the darker shade, and stitch two 8-wrap Bullion Knots, side-by-side, across pleats #2 and #3 (Step 1). Tie the thread off, and rethread your needle with the lighter shade. Make a slightly angled 12-wrap Bullion Knot across pleats #1 and #3, so that the left endpoint of the stitch is centered vertically and the right endpoint is under the previous stitch (Step 2). Reemerge on the left side of pleat #2, and stitch across pleats #2-#4, with the right endpoint centered (Step 3).

Reemerge on the left side of pleat #3 and insert your needle on the left side of the same pleat, but above the rose. Make a 12-wrap Bullion Knot. The stitch will naturally curve around the rose (Step 4). Now turn your work upside-down, and stitch a 12-wrap Bullion Knot between pleats #2 and #4 (Step 5). Last, reemerge on the right side of pleat #3 (which will look like the left side of pleat #2, because you're holding the fabric upside-down). Make a 12-wrap bullion across pleats #2 and #2, tucking the endpoint between the first 12-wrap stitch and the 8-wrap stitches (Step 6). Your beautiful rose is done.
  • Above all, use a milliner's needle (or straw needle).
  • When stitching a Bullion Stitch for a petal, make the needle exit and enter the fabric at points slightly beneath the adjacent petal. This will make the rose look more compact. On the outer ring, if you don't do this, your rose will have more of a pinwheel look.
  • Don't be afraid to have your petal overlap the end of other petals.
  • Larger roses can have a third ring of petals in a still lighter shade. See the Bullion Rose embroidery stitch for ideas.
  • When modifying this rose, to make it larger, or to make the darkest color off-center, you need to follow a few guidelines. The endpoints of each Bullion Knot must lie near the tip of the pleat, not in the valley. You may need to adjust the position and length of the stitch slightly to accommodate this restriction. The petals in a single ring do not need to have exactly the same number of wraps (i.e. the same length).