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.

WIN_20180821_20_55_24_ProBlackberry Cough Syrup

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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pinafore pattern – cut from palazzos

I have been trying for a while to make an easy pattern for upcycling linen trousers. The trousers do make great shift dresses and cute tops (and I will be sharing patterns on these later – but I really wanted to make a pattern that was ‘an easy sew’. My first sews as a teen were this style of sew, and quick and done in a day!

pinafore dress (24)

I also get rather bothered by good quality items like wide leg linen pants,  left on a reduced rail, all because they are not the fashion – it just seems so wasteful. I don’t know if this dress is ‘the fashion’ but its a useful tunic dress, has pockets (bonus) and requires little sewing. It also uses up much of the fabric in the trousers so not bad for one euro. there are not darts and no zips so I also thought it a useful beginners pattern (I don’t think there is a need of buttons/buttonholes as I got this over my head without)

Interestingly I was in Ennis last Saturday week and popped into one or two charity shops. I nipped into the NCBI, and spied some coats. I tried (and bought) one and was talking to one of the ladies who worked there and mentioned I recut clothes. Of course in my evangelical way, I said if she wanted I would send her a link to the patterns. I tried to explain them, and said how one was how to make a dress from a pair of wide leg linen pants, as I keep seeing them unsold in the charity shops. She fully agreed (maybe she was being polite?) – eitherway, she got sent these links and I do hope they get passed around!

I put the sweater blocks up on craftsy also.  They are all just in size 12/medium as this is my general size. I do intend in time to grade them, but currently am more intent on drafting a more patterns for sharing!

The craftsy link to the patterns is here.

 

five minute frock and blinged bag

The frock and the bag are not a set, and the only thing they have in common was that I rushed them off before my 5 day work week routine began.  I was a bit frantic trying to ‘finish’ projects before part time work status ended, and I got these two out of the way.

 

The five minute frock was pretty much that! I had found a wallis maxi polyester skirt on the reduced rail (€1) in the charity shop and picked it up with the intent of maybe making another skirt, for the new job.  Some days later I wondered if I cut armholes in it would it make a dress? I did and it was.  I wore it for the day to see if it was comfortable to wear – it was – so shaped the armhole cuts to curves and hemmed them, and sewed down the elastic waistband which gives a slight structured boat-neck collar.  It also can technically be converted back to a maxi skirt later …..should it be needed!

 

 

The blinged bag was a whim.  I had picked the bag up for €3 in a reduced bin.  I figure it was reduced as the lining was shredded and the bag, while being a functional black, was also a vinyl bag.  I had been rather inspired by Kate’s cross stitching (at our knitty-stitchy group that meet up in Carrolls pub, Dominick St Wednesdays if anyone is in Galway and wants to pop in!) and Lulu Guinness Handbags when I planned this bag.  What I had not realised is that Kate makes cross stitch look easy, which it is not.  I had trialed a few cross stitch hearts and they were disastrous…..so resorted to a few hours on the embroidery machine and did this one!

 

I used a screwdriver to loosen the bag, and made a new lining.  I then embroidered the vinyl, and then got the gutterman glue, put it together again and hoped I did it right.  I get a bit frantic towards the end of fixing the bag into the clasp again as i am always convinced it will fall out or I will have missed a bit, but this is the second one ever I have done and both have been fine.

 

The motif I downloaded for free (and edited it to make the single smaller hearts) and when I find the link I used, I will post it here!

 

 

 

Shibori wrap dress…Simplicity 5404

I cannot believe its nearly May already (note – I started writing this post 3 days ago but then went to paint a room…..), the days here have been beautifully bright, and horribly cold, and somehow, I decided to shelve some slow-starting blouse projects and make a summer dress!

I dyed this fabric last year.  The vat of indigo dye seemed to go on dying forever, and I was running around getting any spare bits of white fabric and trying random ties at the end of the dye-spree, and this length of jersey was one.  I bought it a long time back and its that really thin curly jersey, so it was destined to languish for a while, and even after dying, I wasn’t really relishing cutting out on it.  I had tied random knots in it to tie-dye, so the dye marks go in varying directions.

 

This 70s pattern did have the cutest look, and what had I to lose?  I wasn’t sure where selvedges were and was really going to have to be careful to get everything cut, so I cut the skirt pieces first on either down grain or across, while trying to the the random dye streaks going in the same direction.  the 2 bodice pieces needed to be cut 4 times and again, squeezed it it, the tie belt was shortened, and one had to be made from 3 bits, but I managed to get it all in. (sign of relief)

Sewing it was okay – I really wasn’t looking forward to it as it was inclined to curl a bit and the worst curls was the belt as that had the straight lines, so I had to put iron on vilene strips along the edge to give me some control, I had such low expectations for the fabric, that all outcomes would be good eitherway.

The dress goes together easily, halter pieces sewn, the halter is lined in same fabric so edges enclosed.  I followed the instruction, and with hindsight probably should have used some twill tape or iron-on vilene for the halter as I am unsure if this will stretch more in time (I may yet top stitch it) – although the pattern didn’t state it.  Also, I had allowed a small bit extra at the waist (my waist is now 29 not 26) but ended up taking the bodice in after first fitting.

The dress is pretty much together, and I am pleased with the pattern.  The unfinished hem ends at knee, so it will get a tiny hem, and the halter back is too low for bra which is fine for this one, but if I was to make this again, I would put a bit more height in it.  Its lovely one, but lord only knows when the weather will be right, my optimism is intact for it, as I am thinking of dying a pair of old flip flops if I can get a denim leather dye!

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I have to hand finish the hem, and the skirt fronts, and adjust the halter join,  which was to be done this weekend – in-between coats of paint, but I was pretty defeated by the first primer coat (who knew that a beetroot red lay underneath that wood-chip wallpaper) – but I have plenty of time next week for it – and not quite beach weather here yet.

Other than that, my ideas of what to make are bigger than I have time for so I am drawing them all out in a notebook and seeing which ideas make it to the top.  I swore once that I would never wear culottes again, and yet its looking like I will be making a pair soon, and now am further encouraged by a comment from Aimee from the ‘Wrong Doll’ who thinks they flatter the pearer shape…. so………… never say never

big plaid dress – vogue 6879

There are a few reasons why I rarely buy fabric, but remake instead….

1.  the local fabric store is rather small and limited choice (lots of synthetic blends)
2.  economics, remaking from charity shop buys is a lot cheaper and has some eco-cred.
3.  quality – it is easier to assess quality, wear, and hang of the fabric from something already made

and finally

4.  it seems I lose the run of myself when I get to a ‘good’ fabric store, and buy random crazy stuff, half of which is destined to sit around and taunt me (a certain cream knit with sparkles and a strawberry yogurt number come to mind).  I get rather overwhelmed with stash so never ever like having much of it….

I got this plaid in Murphy Sheehys and as I like plaid, wool (its a wool mix), and turquoise, why not…..I was really questioning why I got it when I got home.

Murphy Sheehys sells fabric bale ends, so the info on the fabric is often not there (have not a clue what this label meant below) but the choice can be fantastic.

I originally wanted enough for a skirt -.75m, as there was just under 2m left on roll –  and they and they gave discount for the full piece, so I got it.  I was unsure of which looked nicer right side or wrong side, and cross grain (longer diamond) vs on-grain (squat diamond).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the skirt I cut wrong side as it had more pixels and cross grain, and I don’t like it.  I made a plain a-line, and it feels neither-here-nor-there, and the pixels side ended up being horrible to match.

The skirt is finished but not photographed, as even though its in the wardrobe, its only until I figure a remake….

The fabric looked well on the mannequin full length – or so I thought so I thought I would try and make a dress – Vogue 6879

 

I had just enough to match plaid, and get the dress to knee length…..I cut cross grain again, as I thought the longer diamond looked better.  The plaid matched up a dream on sewing and the dress went together easily.  I love it, and am currently wearing it with a jade polo neck underneath.

The only drawback, and it really isn’t is that I don’t like ‘working/sewing’ in it. The arm hole and neck are lovely but it often feels a bit restrictive when I am sewing on the machine, but it is the style of the dress, so its a minor thing really.  I adore the dress.  I think its a flattering shape, and currently I think the big plaid is compensating for my three-tone hair (in the final two months of growing out my hair dye!)