I visited family last weekend and took some handwork to do. I also learned something. Not having my smock-gathering machine with me I used the traditional method to pull up the gathers. I ironed on a transfer of evenly spaced dots on the reverse side of the fabric, then picked up each row of dots with a gathering thread. Although its a lot of work, this method does give beautifully evenly spaced parallel gathers.
I haven't used this method for years and in my effort to make sure that the dots transferred well and that I'd be able to see them, I got a bit carried away with the ironing bit. Not only did the dots transfer well, they transferred so well that they are quite visible on the front of the fabric! I decided to keep going.
Which colours to use? I started out using colours that toned closely with the fabric. After seeing how the green and blue almost disappeared into the background, I realised that for the smocking to show up, I had to use something that would stand out more and added in the red row.
Overall the embroidery does seem to camouflage the dots and I hope they will fade further with washing. To be safe I'll probably add in a row of cable stitch at the bottom to further hide those blue dots there. More progress next time.