Designers to weave magic at city Craft Fair

Fashion  Innovation winner Leona Cregan of Elsie Tweed, with Carla Fekkes, from The Style Academy at the Craft Awards and Fashion Show at the Guildhall earlier this year. Photo: Press Eye
Fashion Innovation winner Leona Cregan of Elsie Tweed, with Carla Fekkes, from The Style Academy at the Craft Awards and Fashion Show at the Guildhall earlier this year. Photo: Press Eye

Award-winning young Londonderry fashion designer Leona Cregan, will be among the exhibitors helping visitors try their hand at traditional craft techniques at the Guildhall Summer Craft Fair this weekend.

Leona, of Elsie Tweed, will be bringing her weaver’s loom to the Craft Fair. The event was organised to mark the close of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s highly successful Craft Development Programme.

Staged in the Guildhall on Saturday, June 20, from 12pm until 7pm and on Sunday, June 21, from 11am to 6pm, 35 exhibitors will be selling a range of hand-made ceramics, textiles, knitwear, wood, glass, prints and some artisan food products.

Demonstrations will include local exhibitors Audrey Doherty (millinery), Fiona Doney (basket weaving) and Flossie’s Fudge (on Saturday only).

Leona Cregan (23), winner of the Fashion Innovation Award at the Derry Craft Awards 2015, is based at the city’s Fashion and Textile Design Centre in Shipquay Street as Head Designer of her own company, after graduating from North West Regional College.

She was also winner of the Fashion Future Designer Award at Fashion Fest 2014.

“I launched my business Elsie Tweed last year and, it was a great honour to have recently won the Fashion Innovation Award at the Derry City Craft Awards.

“I am really looking forward to the Craft Fair. I will have my eight shaft loom at my stand and anyone is welcome to come try weaving or find out how hand-woven Irish tweed is made. I create high-end, bespoke garments and also have a ready to wear coat range. All garments are hand-woven by myself on a traditional eight shaft loom. My aim is to rejuvenate weave into the modern age.”

A third generation designer, Leona’s great grandfather was a head designer for Wilkinson’s shirt factory and designed a reversible shirt that was then mass produced around the world. “My grandfather owned his own brand of woven ties in the 1950s, so the passion for weaving and design is truly in my blood,” she said.

Visitors to the two-day event will enjoy live music as well as craft workshops and ‘crafternoon’ teas, as part of Council’s ‘Craft in the City’ season organised by the Craft Development Programme, which is part funded by Invest NI and the European Regional Development Fund under the Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland.

The Mayor, Elisha McCallion, said the Guildhall was the perfect setting to showcase the creative skills of the region’s vibrant craft sector.

“The Guildhall Craft Fair, which has been held annually in November for the past 20 years, is widely recognised as being one of the premier craft fairs on the island of Ireland, attracting thousands of visitors in the run-up to the festive season.

“This new Guildhall Summer Craft Fair is another great seasonal opportunity to experience two days of craft sales, workshops, demonstrations.”

Deirdre Harte, Council’s Craft Development Officer, said: “As well as our established designer-makers, the event will also showcase newcomers who have not previously participated in the prestigious Guildhall Craft Fair.

Admission is £1, and under-16s are free.