Tucks, Pleats, and Sewing through grief


Hi all! It’s been a rough week around here. Dustin, our little buddy for sixteen years succumbed to renal failure last week. If you’ve visited here before, you may remember him from several photos. He loved to be in the middle of everything, and blog photos were no exception.


Such a character, and he always had something to say. He loved jumping on my sewing table and rolling around on the pattern pieces, hilarious! He was such a presence in our lives. Needless to say, his loss has been really hard.

Grief is such a miserable state to be in.  You want to get on with it, but you just can’t. Simple problems become hard. It wasn’t a week for big thoughts or new inspiration. It was a week for repetitve tasks, simple things. I found some comfort in the task of sewing pleats.


Pleats are mindless, a bit tedious sometimes, but very calming to me. You just mark, pin, press and sew. It didn’t bother me at all that this Cynthia Rowley dress/tunic has forty pleats. But catch me at another time, and I might feel different!

I do love Simplicity 8414. Cynthia Rowley’s designs for Simplicity are always winners.simplicity-dress-cynthia-rowley-miss-pattern-8414-envelope-front

I wanted to make the dress with the ruffle, but then ran out of fabric so I settled for tunic length, which worked out quite well since the Pattern Review tunic contest is just winding down!  I might just get my entry in on time. My fabric is striped cotton shirting (Fabric Depot), that turned out to be perfect for this pleated design. The stripes became reference points that helped me to sew the pleats precisely. And there are alot of them! They give the sleeves their bell shape and the front and back bodice some fit that makes this dress flattering.


This pattern is time consuming, but not too hard. The trick is to mark the pleats clearly so that you can sew them precisely.  BE forewarned though. The fit of the dress is very loose. I cut an extra small and the fit is still roomy.  But to me, that’s what tunics are all about, comfort! My only complaint about this make is that the fabric wrinkles easily. Every time I move, another crease is born. I’m not entirely opposed to wrinkles, really. It’s just that sometimes you want to look crisp.

This is a fun pattern and it reminds me how much I enjoy sewing designs with pleat detailing. I can remember how taken I was once with the designs of Albert Nippon. Here’s a Vogue pattern he designed in the 80’s. Lots of pleats!


Sewing as therapy….Do you find detailed sewing comforts you too?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!


34 thoughts on “Tucks, Pleats, and Sewing through grief

  1. I’m so deeply sorry for your loss of Dustin. I know how much it hurts when a four legged love leaves. I lost one of my dearest littles this year and perhaps oddly, I simply can’t remember what I sewed or if I even sewed at all as I muddled through my grief. That being said, your choice of detailed bitty sewing resonates with me. Take good care…I’ll think of Dustin flying on the wings of an angel.

  2. Very sad always to lose an animal friend. Sewing is a good therapy though, calms the mind and enables you to do something productive, and your dress is beautiful.

    1. Thank-you. Yes, it sure has helped me this week. I think the detailed work was soothing, and it’s nice to actually finish something, in spite of everything!

  3. Hello from Yorkshire in England. My heart goes out to you on the loss of Dustin. I’ve experienced this overwhelming sadness a few times. Cats are special. What they bring and give over the years is worth the heartache when they go.
    I agree, sewing and creating is a marvellous distraction therapy at times like this. The tunic and pleats are impressive!

    1. Thanks! It’s so true, cats are so special! Dustin was so intuitive, he knew when we were down and stayed close then, chatting us up! yes, so worth the heartache of loss! THe pleats were so satisfying, who knew complexity is calming!

  4. I’m so sorry to hear that, I too find that sewing is such good therapy at times like this. The shirt you have made it perfect, the pleats are lovely. I’m yet to try anything that tricky!

    1. Thanks! I’m so glad I can sew at times like these. Creating for comfort is something not everyone has. The pleats look trickier than they are. There’s a lot of marking and pinning but the sewing is just straight line sewing…easy really, but it looks hard 😉

      1. I agree, something a little taxing like that can take your mind off it. That’s good to hear, I like to think I can sew in a straight line! I’ll give it a go. ☺

  5. I’m so, so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine being without my furry buddy so it must be extremely hard for you. It’s at these times when we understand how much therapy sewing can be. I adore your tunic and the pleats are immaculate!

    1. Thanks! It’s so comforting to hear from others who understand! Its his voice I miss most. It’s too quiet around here. I love pleats because they aren’t that hard to sew but they require a bit of focus and concentration, a great distraction.

  6. While I’ve never met your Dustin, I know how much you and I loved our little furbabies as we were growing up, as we do now! Our Spot is 17 years old, and he the love our two now-college-age girls, Katie & Megan. Take care. I wish we lived closer so I could come over and give you a hug.

  7. Sorry you lost your kitty! It’s always surreal when someone has been around for so long and then poof, not anymore. I’m glad you could busy your mind with the pleats. 40 is a lot! I really like hand sewing when my mind is addled.

    1. Thanks Elizabeth! Surreal is such a perfect way to describe the feeling of loss. I still look for him constantly out of the corner of my eye! Yes forty pleats is mind boggling, but it didn’t seem so at the time. Hand sewing is a good suggestion. It is so soothing.

  8. I’m sorry for the loss of your dear little Dustin. I love the tail caress photo. In the past I have found knitting to be therapeutic. I think the rhythm and repetition is soothing, and making 40 pleats has an element of that too.

    1. Thank-you…Yes, that tail photo says it all:). He was so affectionate/possessive. I can imagine the rhythm of knitting would be very therapeutic, yes similar to pleats! I’ve often thought I should try knitting just for the calm it would bring. Hmmmmm.

  9. I am so sorry to hear about your sweet Dustin; I always appreciated his photobombs, and he sounds like he was a special kitty who had a wonderful life with his family. Our pets are so easy to love, and so hard to live without. Sending hugs and sympathy (and some soothing purrs from our own little herd), and wishing you comfort and happy memories.

    On a happier note, I love your tunic! I like that you picked something similar to the envelope sample–I think small-scale stripes are a great look for this pattern. I have it on my wishlist despite reservations about the style looking good on me, LOL!

    1. Thanks for the good thoughts from your furry herd! Yes, it seems like our pets have too short of lives (grrr). Wish they’d live forever! I think this tunic would look good on you! The small scale stripe did work out well. I can see it in linen or a lightweight lawn too. Can’t wait to see your version!

  10. This is the first time coming to your blog. Very nice indeed. I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your pet. There is almost nothing worse: our animals are both family and best friend. I know you have many happy memories to think about; and his suffering is over now. May you take comfort in these memories.

    You did a great job on the dress. The blue suits you and it seems a it of a resurgence in style–I haven’t seen one like it in a long time!

    1. Thanks for the comforting words and for visiting my blog! Yes, the memories are the thing, aren’t they? I’m glad I have a lot of funny stories about Dustin. They do make me feel better. Thanks for the kind words about my dress/tunic too. It was such a fun project. Pleats might be my new favorite thing!

  11. I’m a member of pattern review and always enjoy and trust your reviews. My first time to your blog….sorry to hear about Dustin, a very handsome kitty. e have a 21 year old Siamese, Gizmo, and every day is a gift. I hope your grief is getting easier, but having lost a furry pattern weight in the past, I understand how much of a hole in your heart they leave. Prayers to you. I love your sewing and taste in patterns and fabric.

    Lovingly, Julie Ann aka “Gizmosmom”

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words. Your description of him as a furry pattern weight is so on point:) I can’t even tell you how much I miss his presence in our life. It sounds like you enjoy Gizmo to the fullest…SIamese are such memorable friends! Thanks for visiting my blog!

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