About 10 years ago I was given my grandma's gathering machine. It gathers the fabric to make it so you can smock. After the fabric is gathered you hand stitch to make smocking. Then you take out the thread holding the original gathers in place. I have used it more times than I can count and I keep coming back to it because it is so relaxing to do hand stitching.
I feel like this is a craft that has somewhat disappeared. I also feel like it brings a very specific feel to a garment.
This dress is the Oliver + S Fairy Tale pattern. I love this pattern because it is so versatile. You can use the petal sleeves, or leave it sleeveless. There are two collar options, or leave the collar off. The little bow around the waist is adorable and you can mix and match so many colors and fabrics!
I think smocking is ready for a modern comeback. The greatest thing is you don't have to have a pleating machine to smock. You can gather the fabric in different ways to achieve this look. Here's some more smocking that hopefully will help sell this idea!Melly Sewn smocked dress
Purl Soho's Smocked Dress Pattern
Ingrid Orchid's fabric manipulation blouse uses a pleating method to get the drape just perfect.