tote bag tutorial & a seasonal recipe

found & sewn

I love shopping at my local farmers market and produce store, so I thought my next sewing tutorial for BraintreeClothing would be a classic tote bag, perfect for filling up with seasonal goodies.

Braintreekindly sent me two lovely striped men’s shirts to upcycle into this tote bag. You could of course use any fabrics new or old.

found & sewn


Fabric (I’ve used two different striped linen shirts)

Cotton webbing  (Navy 2 lengths 3 x 122cms)

Cotton thread (cream & navy)

Sewing machine



Tape measure

found & sewn

How to: 

To start with, cut out your pattern pieces.

You will need two body pieces (pale stripes)  41 x 46cm , two lining pieces

(dark stripes) 41x 46 cm and 2 pocket pieces, 21 .5 x 35 cm.

I’ve cut my fabric out of two men’s shirts, using the front, back panels and sleeves.

Hem the top of the body and lining pieces by folding down the top (short) edge by 2cm, Iron and sew along the top, repeat this with the two pockets.

found & sewn

Sew on the pockets.

Centre your pockets by Ironing the two body pieces in half lengthways, do the same with the two pockets. Open out  a body piece and lay the pocket  on top, matching up the creases and bottom raw edges.  

Pin and sew on the pocket, leaving the top open. Repeat on the second body piece.

found & sewn

Sew on the handles.

Take one length of webbing  (122 cm) and with the body piece facing up, align the webbing to the bottom raw edge, keep the webbing straight and cover the pocket seam until you reach the top, pin as you go. At the top make a loop for the handle (40cm appox) making sure you don’t twist the webbing, carry on down the other side to the bottom raw edge.

With everything in place sew around all sides of the webbing attaching it to the fabric.

Repeat on the second body piece.

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Sew the bag together.

With the body pieces face to face, match up the handles and the edges, pin it all together and sew around the three raw edges.  

Turn inside out and with an iron press sides and corners.

found & sewn


Put the two lining pieces face to face, neat hem at the top. Pin and sew around the raw edges.
(Do not turn out.) Insert the lining in to the bag, matching up the side seams, to attach the lining pin along the top and sew around the opening.

Give your new tote a press and you’re ready to shop…

Remember to share any of your makes with us by uploading your images to Instagram including the hashtag #BThoughtful_Makes


found & sewn

This is 2 North Parade Produce Store in Oxford. Co-owned by my boyfriend Pete.

 ’We work closely with local farmers, producers and suppliers who focus on the quality, integrity and provenance of their produce. Giving the customer the fresh taste of every season and the best artisan foods for your table’

found & sewn

I asked Pete to share his favourite seasonal recipe..

At the moment it’s the asparagus season, we have freshly picked local asparagus delivered to the shop every morning, it’s fresh, delicious and makes a great, quick, seasonal supper.

There are so many great ways to eat asparagus; with homemade hollandaise, butter and lemon, in a risotto, tossed in a mixed salad with mozzarella, but my favourite is the fresh, rich, salty contrast of asparagus, eggs and bacon.

found & sewn

Asparagus soldiers with soft boiled eggs.

You will need:
12 medium asparagus stalks, woody ends removed
12 slices of thinly sliced pancetta or bacon
olive oil
free range eggs
sea salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 220C. Wrap your asparagus stalks in the pancetta (or bacon) with the tips poking out, and place in a roasting pan. Drizzle with a little olive oil and roast in the oven for 10 mins, until crispy.

While the asparagus is cooking, Carefully place the eggs into lightly salted boiling water, for 5 minutes, drain, cut off the lids and put them in egg cups. Serve with a good pinch of salt and pepper.

Dunk your asparagus soldiers into the soft egg and enjoy.

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Cameron Is Sending in the Jackbooted Fascist Thugs

….which headline is a direct quote from this article.

The other day I wrote about soundbites, and how they can be divisive and misleading, drawing you away from the truth of something towards the impression the user wants to convey.

And clearly politicos and journalists aren’t listening to me, because they’re using exactly the same methodology to try and convince people that the NASTY EVIL TORIES are coming to TAKE AWAY YOUR FREEDOMS AND RIGHTS.

The quote in question, currently being wailed throughout a lobby that have suddenly become devoutly pro-freedoms despite trying to introduce ID Cards, a DNA Database, 90-day detention without charge, Control Orders) is this:

“For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone.”

Oh. My. God….

Cameron is sending in the jackbooted fascist thugs to stop us from criticising the NASTY EVIL TORIES over our organic morning granola!


Let’s have a look at a bit more of the quote and see if it says the same.

“For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone. It’s often meant we have stood neutral between different values. And that’s helped foster a narrative of extremism and grievance. 

“This Government will conclusively turn the page on this failed approach. As the party of one nation, we will govern as one nation, and bring our country together. That means actively promoting certain values. Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Democracy. The rule of law. Equal rights regardless of race, gender or sexuality.”(emphasis mine)

Wow, that looks a bit different, doesn’t it? A bit less Mein Kampf?

The legislation itself hasn’t been finalised yet and I’m not saying it’s going to be good law – we’ve seen before how well-meaning legislation can be misused – but sources indicate that decisions on what constitutes extremism won’t be lying with politicians either, but with the High Court. The point is we don’t know yet, and journalists are using a selected quotation to drive traffic and whip up opinion without knowing either.

Cameron’s speechwriters and spinners really need to have their heads banged against a desk for coming up with such a stupidly spinnable headline, but that’s only half of it.

We need to read more. Rather than blithely assuming that the headline writers are giving us the facts, we need to recognise that they’re steering our interpretation the way they want to.

Read more. Read multiple sources. But most of all, read past the apparent money quote.

Because this one was rather different to the headline, and many others are too.

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