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.


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…..)


13 thoughts on “Denim jean dress, figs and blackberry cough syrup

  1. littlemissw says:

    I just found your site through Pinterest. It’s wonderful and I’m so excited that you offer your patterns for free. I often shop at op-shops (which is what we call thrift shops in Australia – short for opportunity shop) and sometimes buy clothes just because I love the fabric, even though the item wont really fit me. I’m really excited to give your patterns a go.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. upsew says:

    Thank you very much – I do hope the patterns are easy to follow – they are in european page sizing which I know is a bit of an issue in the states – please email me if anything is unclear. Rather jealous you are now coming to your summer, the rain and the stormy weather have started here!


    • Betty says:

      Not sure if your figs would be fit for this .. I use black mission figs.. cut them in half put a tsp of brown sugar over each then cover in port wine to make a kind of paste, add a bit more port to the bottom of a baking dish then bake @350°F until soft and the sugar bubbly, 15 to 20 min. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Or make jam!

      Liked by 1 person

      • upsew says:

        Thank you so much Betty -that sounds like it would work for the figs I have. On their own, they are rather bland but the port sounds like it would intensify them – will definitely be trying this come August.


    • upsew says:

      Charity shops here regularly will sell pairs for 1euro – crazy isnt it? and the charity shop I donated my denim makes to in April gave me a fair bit. It takes 4 pairs of jeans per dress and that still gives plenty of left overs. I found it easier to make the patch work first and after the first cut out of the front or back of dress – take apart the left overs and some were reused in the back… the elastine in some womens jeans can be a little unpredictable whereas traditional mens levi’s are amazing to work with! best of luck

      Liked by 1 person

  3. upsew says:

    Absolutely Elaine – please do! Personally I think once you can sew, it doesnt leave you – but getting the time is the clincher! if you are ever in Galway feel free to get in touch and I can run thru some bits if you would like (we live city centre so easy to find!) or pm me in facebook


  4. upsew says:

    hi, the back of the dress is the second photo on the right hand side, it has a button at the top for the neck (and it has a side zipper also). hope this helps.


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