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I'm Heather McGarrigle and this is my blog - a colourful celebration of culture, crafting and creativity in Northern Ireland and beyond.

Monday Makes: A patchwork bag and the beginnings of a tea dress!

Monday Makes: A patchwork bag and the beginnings of a tea dress!

Hello! It's hard to believe this is my first post of 2014 - where have those months gone?! I'm sorry for abandoning the Quill for a while; job changes and work commitments have eaten up a lot of my time and energy over the past few months. However, I'm pleased to say that during this little hiatus, I have finally realised a long-held ambition and am currently undertaking a fabulous dressmaking course at Belfast Met! More on that later.

Firstly, my patchwork bag. This has been a few months in the making - I actually started it mid-December, planning it as a practice run for a bag I had decided to make for my mum's Christmas present. In the end, I made her a totally different bag because I found a beautiful cherub print fabric that I couldn't bear to cut up into patches. It deserved to be a one-fabric bag.

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However, I liked how the patchwork prototype looked, so once I finished mum's bag (and a little muslin fold-up shopper for my sister!) I decided to complete the first bag.

I haven't done a tutorial for this make, but if you want to try it for yourself, it is 'The Patchwork Weekender' on page 75 of The Perfect Handmade Bag by Clare Youngs.

Here's how mine turned out, along with a photo of the bag mid-make (on my new CUTTING TABLE!) Let me know what you think!

As mentioned, I'm currently spending two very happy hours every week at a dressmaking class in the Titanic Quarter campus of the Belfast Metropolitan College.

Under the expert guidance of Pat Dickson, we have learned how to set up and use industrial sewing machines, use overlockers for a professional finish on seams, as well as enjoying skills tutorials on everything from fabric-cutting and creating bias binding, to sewing darts and applying interfacing.

We are into our eighth week this Wednesday, and having selected a garment pattern each, we are in the process of creating a toile, or mock-up, in calico (an inexpensive cotton). I've been taking a few photos during the course to document my little journey, a selection of which are below. I'll be posting regularly from now on as I progress. Wish me luck!

What's On This Week 24th March - 30th March 2014

What's On This Week: 10th - 15th December