Friday, 22 May 2015

tote bag tutorial & a seasonal recipe

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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.

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

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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

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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

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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'

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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.

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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.

Friday, 1 May 2015


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Happy May Day everyone! Such a lovely time of year. One past traditional May Day event I love is that people would get up before sunrise in order to gather flowers and greenery to decorate their houses and villages, in the belief that the vegetation spirits would bring good fortune. 
I have some apple blossom and lilac which I'm hoping will do the trick.

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We went on such a beautiful walk the other day, the weather was just perfect.
Down old farm tracks, over wooden stiles, across fields, though pretty villages, into cool musty churches. Hawthorn bushes in flower, lining the way and swathes of wild garlic. We stopped by this lovely stone wall, where the grass was covered in primroses, dandelions and forget-me -nots. It was a buzz with bees and hoverflies. 

I love a nice walk, to slow everything down, to forget about those 'to do' lists and just enjoy the moment. Taking time to notice all the little details of the day. 

Do you have any favourite walks near to where you live? 

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Thursday, 23 April 2015

spring calm

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A few snaps of the little things that have made me happy and content lately....

Beautiful delicate blossom trees in full bloom, now dropping like confetti on the ground.

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Having an unexpected Saturday off work and deciding to spend the afternoon making Liberty print cushions listening to radio 4... I'm a complete granny at heart!  I made a cushion in this fabric for the bedroom, which I love.

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Picking the last few Hyacinth from the garden, which smell delicious. Now the tulips, muscari and forget me nots are taking their place.

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Spending time pottering around in my sewing room. The view from the window overlooks a farm, fields with horses, a donkey and apple trees, I waste a lot of time just staring out of that window.

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A moment of calm to read the ever inspiring 'Cereal' (which I actually bought for my boyfriend) with a herbal tea and the most amazing dark chocolate from our recent trip to London .

What little things have made you happy this week?

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

braintree clothing: beaded lace brooch tutorial

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I’m very excited to let you know that I will be working with Braintree Clothing and regularly contributing to their Bthoughtful blog.

Braintree Clothing is a natural clothing company born in Sydney, Australia and now based in London. It's an independent fashion label with a simple philosophy to design and make beautiful timeless fashion while caring for our environment.

I will be sharing a range of ‘makes’ and sewing tutorials, from handmade gifts & accessories to items for the home.

So for my first tutorial I thought it would be nice to make one of my beaded lace brooches. Perfect for brightening up a cardigan, jacket or jumper for Spring.

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  • Crochet or Lace motifs (available from most good haberdasheries)
  • Beads of different sizes and colours
  • Cotton thread
  • Felt
  • Brooch pin

  • Needle
  • Scissors
  • Clear fabric glue


STEP 1 - Once you have chosen your crochet/lace motif start hand sewing your chosen beads on to the lace.
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You could also use beads from old necklaces, sequins and buttons. Make it as simple or as elaborate as you like.
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I’ve gone for a vintage look, using dusky pink, bronze, grey and white seed beads with a few faux pearls.
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STEP 2- Once you have finished all the beading, trace around your motif and cut the felt to the same shape. Now glue the felt to the back of the brooch. (The felt may show through the lace, so choose a colour to match your beads.)
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STEP 3-  Sew a brooch pin on to the back and finish by gluing a small piece of felt over the brooch pin back for a neat finish and it's ready to wear.
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Step 4- Pin your handmade brooch on to your Spring jacket, jumper or cardigan and off you go....

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If you'd like to join in with any of my projects or share what you have been making, just upload your image to Instagram including the hashtag #.BThoughtful_Makes
I'd love to see what you have been making...

    Friday, 3 April 2015

    spring days

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    Spring seems to give me lots of motivation, must be the lighter, longer days, and recently my days off have been spent at home and in the garden. 

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    Here's a few things I've been up to...

    Working on a very exciting new sewing project...more on that to come. 

    I made this delicious Squash and Spinach Tart from the lovely Anna Jones cook book, 'a modern way to eat'. I have never made my own pastry before and it was surprisingly easy. 

    Spending time, helping out at my boyfriends produce store. So many lovely things in that shop!

    I keep rearranging things at home, decluttering, trying to get a simple, fresher look. I really love white ceramics, the two beautiful white handmade vases are from the lovely Illyria Pottery in Oxford. 

    The White SylvaC flower vase I found in a charity shop for 50p a few years ago.  

    I'm still starting most days with 10 minutes of meditation using the Headspace app. I'm really enjoying it 

    My favourite flowers, Anemones and Ranunculus on the mantelpiece, a gift from my boyfriend.

    I'd love to know what you have been up to lately... Have a lovely Easter Weekend.

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    found and sewn

    Friday, 20 March 2015

    dancing eyes


    We've had a few nice sunny spring days around here. I get really excited, making plans for our little garden. I'm hoping to grow lots of herbs again this year; dill, parsley, chives, basil, mint...I have lists..
    We have two vintage white Belfast sinks, given to us by our neighbour, to grow them all in.

     I can't wait to get started on that, but for now, I've just potted up these pretty pink flowers in terracotta pots to go on the living room window sill and then with a cup of herbal tea I sat enjoying the sunshine and admired my easy hard work. 

    These words by James Seaton of Toast sum up everything...

    I was sorting through all my books the other day to take to my local charity shop when I found this one by Sophie Dahl- The man with the dancing eyes,  I had forgotten how nice it is, love the illustrations by Anna Morris, Definitely a keeper.

    Enjoy your weekend


    Saturday, 7 March 2015

    postcards from Ascoli


    Ascoli, Italy....just for a few days, The winter sun was shining, we lived off freshly made pasta and coffee. Pottered around the old towns Medieval streets and piazzas, stepping inside beautiful churches, people watching in little cafes, drinking espressos standing at the bar like the locals. honey coloured buildings, turquoise, pink and marble, huge arched wooden doors, fountains, snow covered mountains and birdsong.

    Back home and Spring has arrived....still thinking about Italy..




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