For the next few blogs I will cover several smocking tips. One term that you need to be familiar with when picture smocking is "back smocking." This is done on the wrong side of the pleated inset, and is nothing more than a cable stitch using two strands of floss to match the fabric. Most smocking designs will tell which rows to back smock, but when in doubt it will always be the pleated rows that will not be held in place with smocking on the right side of the fabric.
When smocking the "Baby Balloons" rows 2, 3, 4, and 5 were back smocked. I like to do my back smocking first. This gets the boring stuff out of the way and holds the pleats in place while doing the actual smocking later. Many people prefer the opposite and either way has the same results.
On my first picture smocking piece 21 years ago, not really understanding what I was doing, I pulled out the pleater threads without back smocking. My pleats "pooffed" out between my little bunnies! I was able to follow the holes made in the fabric by the pleater needles close enough to go back and cable across the rows, but believe me, that is NOT the preferred method. Now that I think about it, that may be why I always back smock first.