Making a Holgate Miller’s Smock

Would you like to make a smock like the one Holgate millers wear? Here it is. The design is basically an 18th century man’s shirt (think Poldark).

A 5/8” seam allowance is included in these dimensions. It’s assumed you have experience of sewing. Everything is cut from rectangles.

Fabric pieces

Cut from white cotton or cotton/polyester such as a sheet:

  • One rectangle for front, 26” wide by 30” long (or your preferred length plus 2” for hem).
  • One rectangle for back, same size.
  • Two rectangles for sleeves, 23” wide and as long as the distance from your shoulder to knuckles.
  • Two x collar band 16 1/4” long by 2 1/4” wide.
  • Two x underarm gusset 5” square.
  • Two x neck ties about 2” wide, length to suit you tied in a bow.
  • Set aside fabric for 1 1/4” wide strips to bind neck edge and sleeve openings. Total length needed about 40”.
  • (You may want to make a paper pattern first.) Cut a piece 18 1/2” long x 9” wide. Mark the centre of the length and the centre of the width. Plot a 5” diameter circle centred on this point then move the circle 1/2” toward either long edge. Draw in the circle. Cut out the hole for a neck opening. Cut two yokes in fabric (yoke and facing).
  • Make a paper pattern first: cut a rectangle 19” long x 4” wide. Fold it in half crosswise and pin together. Piece is now 9 1/2” long. Mark one edge at 7 3/4” from fold. To make a point on the collar, cut a diagonal line across unfolded end, from corner on one side to 7 3/4” mark on the other. Open out pattern piece and cut two in fabric (collar and facing).



Gather tops of back and front to match widths of yoke back and front. Figure 1

Attach yoke to front and back. Attach yoke facing to fronts and backs.

Find the body front. This is the piece with the lower neck opening. Fold front in half, press the fold, and mark centre front line on the fold. Cut 9” long slash down centre front from neck edge. Staystitch 1/4” from edge round whole slash opening. Figure 2

Snip tiny notches inside staystitching at bottom of slash to make it easier to attach binding.

Attach binding down one side, across the bottom and up the other side of the neck slash with seam 1/4” from edge. Trim the seam close, press. Fold the other binding edge in and topstitch it round the neck slash. Figure 3


Sew collar pieces together around the short ends and the longest side. Turn, trim and press. Baste the open side closed along the seam allowance line. Figure 4

Make the neck ties: fold each strip lengthwise, right sides together. Stitch entire length and across one end, trim seam allowance close to stitching, turn to get a tube. Press.

Pin collar band pieces right sides together. Tuck neck ties between the layers with raw ends inside collar band seam allowance, rest dangling. Stitch across collar band ends. Turn the collar band right side out. Fold in the seam allowances on one long edge. Press, checking that the band forms a tidy rectangle. The long ties should now be sticking out of its ends. Figure 5

Push the basted edge of the collar into the folded-in side of the collar band, leaving an equal gap at both ends (the collar is slightly shorter than the collar band). Top stitch to secure the collar inside the collar band. Figure 6

On the body, staystitch around the neck edge just within the seam allowance, then snip a 1/4” notch every inch or so from edge toward staystitching. Attach one side of the collar band to neck edge.  Figure 7 Press the seam allowance into the collar band and trim. Fold in the seam allowance on the other side of the collar band. Sew this side of the collar band to the neck edge either by hand or by top stitching through all the layers.


Lay the sleeves flat, side by side, right side up. Figure 8 Along the bottom of the sleeve on the left mark the place 5” from the left edge. Along the bottom of the sleeve on the right mark the place 5” from the right edge. You now have a right and a left sleeve. At each 5” mark cut a slash 4” long, straight up from the bottom edge. Stitch binding round each slash as you did on the smock front. These openings will be at the back of your wrists so keep track of which sleeve is right and left from now on. Figure 9

At the top of each sleeve mark the centre with a safety pin, a bit below the seam allowance. Sew two rows of gathering stitches along the top of each sleeve. Pull gathering to make each sleeve 18” wide at the top. Secure ends of stitches so width is fixed. Figure 10

Sew the side seams on the sleeves to make them into tubes, but leave the last five inches, minus seam allowance, open at the top for the gusset. Figure 11

Fold each gusset in half diagonally. Sew adjacent sides of a gusset to the open top of a sleeve seam. When done you should have a triangle sticking out of the side of the sleeve top. Do the same on the other sleeve. Figure 12

Gather lower edge of each sleeve with two rows of basting stitches, starting and ending at the slash opening. Leave threads long for adjustment later. Figure 13


For each cuff:

Fold cuff in half lengthwise, right sides together, press fold. Fold back one long edge on seam allowance and press. Stitch across ends. Trim and turn, press. Cuff now has one raw edge and one folded-in edge. Figure 14

Pull in gathers on lower edge of sleeve until it fits cuff. Pin raw edge of cuff to right side of sleeve and stitch. Trim off excess gathered fabric inside cuff. Turn cuff and slip stitch the folded-in edge to sleeve. Figure 15

Sleeves to body

Match each sleeve to the right or left side of the body. The slash should be at the back of your arm. Mark halfway points on yoke with safety pins, ie where shoulder seam would be if there were one. Mark 9” down from this point on body back and front, left and right sides. Figure 16

Arrange the gathers on the sleeve evenly. Pin the gathered and gusseted sleeve to the body front and back, matching the marked yoke centre with sleeve top centre. The gathered section of the sleeve should stop at the 9” mark on the body. Stitch the sleeve and its remaining two edges of gusset to the body. The gusset will form a diamond when sewn in and pressed flat. Stitch the rest of the side seams.


Try on the smock and mark the hemline. Test the cuffs for comfort and mark the overlap. Make button and buttonhole in cuff. Figure 17 Overcast all raw edges. Stitch the hem.

Please let us know how you get on.

Ulla Wiberg