Decorative embroidery - smocking

Eliznik home > Romania > costume > decorative embroidery - smocking

Ciupagul, Făgăraş, Transylvania

Decorative gathers or smocking - creţ (pl. creţuri)

Gathering or pleating 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 cămăşi in many areas. The method of smocking can be divided into 3 stages: încreţi (to make gathers), ordit and umplut (filling). The material is first gathered using running stitch (creţ 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).

  Romanian name and description
Creţ 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.

Creţul 'Creasta Puiului' & Creţ ''în stâlpi'

Based on running stitch but worked in 2 oblique wavy lines.  Creţ ''în stâlpi' is 2 or more rows of  Creţul 'Creasta Puiului'


The term încreţ is also used for part of the sleeve decoration on cămaşă încreţită, 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.


© Eliznik2005, First issue 2002, Last updated Aug-05