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Marlene’s Meditations

God’s Beautiful Needlework

By Marlene Houk

Burke County

Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:


What is smocking? Is it:

  1. fish bait
  2. an insult
  3. a sewing craft


My friend had smocked a lovely Easter dress for her toddler granddaughter. The pleating stood in precise folds, marching gently across her frock. Resting on top of the pleats and seeming to float across the surface were tiny flowers sporting bright pink that matched the Spring weather with attendant luxurious green leaves. The powder blue cloth offered a perfect backdrop for the delicate handwork that spoke of loving attention to detail for a treasured princess.

As I drew the lovely garment closer, my mind totally absorbed in the craftsmanship, a thought drifted with the soft whisper of a dove’s wings straight to my heart. This is how Christ designs His plan for His children’s lives. Through my friend’s passion to create an heirloom for her granddaughter, I caught a glimpse of my heavenly Father’s care and infinite skill in crafting His plan for my life.

Looking back, I can see the precise way He pleated the folds of my life to produce a child of faith that would honor Him and sustain me. And from His cache of richly colored thread, he wove across those pleats that formed His plan the jeweled shades of flowers and contrasting rich green leaves that reflected His goodness and mercy in my life. Crowning the smocking, He gently sewed in white seed pearls that seemed to float on top of the pleats. Their significance speaks to me every time saying, “This is your legacy, child, for you belong to the Pearl of Great Price which is the Bride of Christ. Remember that.” (Matthew 13:45-46)

Smocking can be seen in paintings as early as the thirteenth century (Luttrell’s Psalter circa 1340) and even mentioned in Shakespeare’s play of Romeo and Juliet (Act 2, Scene 4, Mercutio speaks). Originally, smocking, with its many pleats, created extra room in the garment for laborers and even extra padding on the shoulders for carrying heavy tools. This reminded me of how God leaves so much room in his personally-tailored garment of righteousness for us. His skill in fashioning my frock leaves plenty of room for spiritual growth and includes extra padding to carry the burdens of life.

Perhaps now you can recognize smocking that was especially popular for young children in the 1950s and remains a classic garment for today. Let it remind you of God’s careful attention to our lives as He sews a garment that reflects His deep love and care for each one of us as dear children.