Denim jean dress, figs and blackberry cough syrup

I had made one of these dresses for Fashion Revolution to give to Cope Charity Shop to sell in April, and meant to run another for myself, and finally I did in August from some left over denim.

These jean dresses are a quick make. I possibly could have taken my time and worked out where to blend in the bust dart, and maybe sneak some pockets into the seams – but I didn’t…. as worst sewing habit is my race to the finish.

Before I sew denim I prefer to hot wash jeans to get the grain a bit more settled back. For this style dress, I rip the legs up near to the seam along the straight grain (boot cut or straight leg will give most fabric). Iron and trim any long threads, and I over-locked the rectangles. Starting with a triangle, I built up a large patchwork, and then lay my pattern piece for the dress on top. Cut, ironed and flat felled the seams, sewed darts, dress, zip – hem and done! I used a simple A-line shift dress pattern. (I did not take any photos of the making but have drawn a diagram as I had been explaining it before – and referring to log cabin block made not sense to the person as the did not do patchwork.

 

Other than that – I have been doing some drawing, and putting some order in the garden as a lot of plants which were packed already, were even more squished…. so I have split chives, fennel, rhubarb and hydrangea, as well as summer pruning. and wondering what to do with the ever abundant crop of figs!

Growing up the biggest sin in our family home was waste, and this was generally about food, which obviously makes sense. Any wanton waste was viewed with suspicion, and good clothes being unworn or let got to rags without care was either a crime or a sin. Little wonder I see mending as a necessity.

However  I must admit, some clothes were always beyond redemption. When my teeny-tiny aunt mentioned to my father that she had a fitted sheepskin coat she no longer wore and ‘would the girls like it’, my dad was delighted. He brought the coat home not thinking his 2 daughters were now fine strapping girls in their 20s. To my ultimate relief there was no way that coat fitted, and of course by then the bigger dilemma here for my dad was to have to give it back to the aunt defeated or to somehow re-home it, as apparently ‘they (sheepskin coats) are very warm and so expensive. It would be pure criminal to throw out a coat like that’.  (to this day I think my aunt figured it fitted us as I know the wardrobe it languished in later).

So with echos of ‘its a sin to throw that out’ and ‘you cant waste food, sure thats a sin’  I am in a bit of a bind when it comes to these figs and they generally end up in the compost heap. I am not riddled with guilt as such but now determined to find a better use for them than compost.

I planted a Brown Turkey Fig tree as it grows in Ireland, and seems to be the only one sold.  Now after growing them I know they taste bland or wooly regardless of the amount of sunshine in the summer (I was sure this year’s heatwave would do it…but no). I still have to find a recipe that will work for them.

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This years experiment of this fig tart seems a winner. I did a variation of this recipe, where the figs are roasted in honey and orange, and then put into a tart with frangipane poured over. It is the most successful of the recipes tried so far, even though it only uses 6 figs. (The roasted figs on their own do not taste as good and need the additional support of the pastry and frangipane mix). I am still on the look-out for more recipes as this is the only one so far that seemed to work.

If anyone has any recipes or tips for Brown Turkey Figs – please do tell ….. This tree is a seriously heavy cropper!

My best make for August was my Blackberry Cough syrup. I swear by it and did not get a chance to make any last year so had to battle winter sniffles without. I was determined to make it this year, and made a double batch to be sure. I have the recipe below if anyone would like to try it. I take a few teaspoons in boiling water as a night time drink I does smell of vinegar but tastes fine, and so soothing for a sore throat.

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MAKES 1.5pints (the jars above contains 3 pints)
1lb blackberries
1lb honey
8oz sugar
1/2 pint wine vinegar

Cook blackberries over gentle heat until juice runs, then boil to a mush. Sieve out pips (to a separate clean saucepan). Add the honey, sugar, and vinegar and bring to boil again. Skim off any scum and pour into warmed very clean bottles. (lasts for about 2 years…..)

 

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hello 1982

This make reminds me so much of the 80s, It was not my intention starting out… it just seemed to turn out like that.  It was also a top similar in style to the ones I did sew for myself in the 80s – where the main considerations were to avoid zips, buttons and sleeve insertions.

I picked up a few bits of fabric recently when I was in Dublin recently getting a second opinion on whether I should get 5 crowns. My dentist thought I should consider getting one on an over-filled back tooth, the ‘crown’ consultant in Galway figured why stop there as I could really do with five. Being faced with such a hefty bill, I decided to get a second opinion from a specialist dental practice I had used to some time ago in Dublin for a root canal (that offer free consultation),  and they pretty much recommended only one crown needed and the inexpensive one (so guess whos opinion I am running with….).

So after this good news , I strolled about town visiting galleries before getting the bus back to Galway, and by way of celebration – I popped into the Cloth Shop off St Stephens Green in Dublin. I don’t often buy fabric, but I do like to have some as its nice to have a sufficient amount to try out a new pattern  now and then rather than being compromised by what an upcycle remake presents. I bought some blue tweed I had noticed there some time back, and the end piece of a viscose knit.

The viscose knit was the perfect weight for top with a bit of structure. I had hoped to make something with a funnel boat neck and kimono sleeve. There was just nearly enough fabric left on the roll – about 70cm.

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I had made up a rough toile in cotton and then used it as a pattern, I did modify the front to add more fabric to the front neckline, but really could have added a bit more.  The collar facing is a continuation up from the neckline in blue and folded over. I did have to patch the sleeve at the back to make the kimono sleeve fit (I have shown the draft here on the fabric to show where I came in ‘short’.) This back seam on the sleeve is fine, as its easier to tell front and back when putting it on!

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and bonus – it matches these sun-glasses