Decorative smocking

Decorative smocking

Gathers, pleating or smocking creț (pl. crețuri) is used either to join broad and narrow pieces of fabric or to gather material to fit round the neck, waist or wrist. The use of these techniques also evolved from folding garments into chests. The use of decorative stitches on gathers is widespread in Europe. In Romania this is used for the waists of gathered vâlnice, or fote in the south and on men’s and women’s cămăși in many areas. The method of smocking can be divided into three stages: încreți (to make gathers), ordit and umplut (filling). The material is first gathered using running stitch (creț simplu) and then the area is outlined using ordit then decorative stitches are worked over the gathers. There are many different regional variations for the stitches used for this umplut (filling).

Creț simplu

Equally spaced rows of running stitch in white thread, with each stitch crossing 2-4 threads. Once completed the threads are pulled tight to make the smocked area. The more complex stitches are then worked over this area.


Decorative stitches worked on gathers on the basis of the principle of woven motifs (alesătură) with each edge of a gather representing a warp thread. It is worked form right to left in horizontal lines making diamond shaped patterns.

Crețul ‘creasta puiului’ and creț ‘în stâlpi’

Based on running stitch but worked in 2 oblique wavy lines. Creț ‘în stâlpi’ is 2 or more rows of Crețul ‘Creasta Puiului’


The term încreț is also used for part of the sleeve decoration on cămașă încrețită, as well as for the specific embroidery stitch used for this part of the sleeve. This term is used because this part of the sleeve was originally gathered. The resulting patterns are similar to those made by ciupagul, i.e. represents geometric woven motifs (alesătură), but in this case the pattern is formed by the contrast between the worked and plain patches.


Published on 18th February 2018, last modified on 25th February 2018