Meet Our Makers: A Profile of Seamstress Rebecca Joy

Meet Rebecca Joy. She grew up on a dairy farm in Connecticut and moved to Fredonia five years ago after marrying village native Andy Joy. The couple met at college and both work for J.M. Joy Farms, which produces brown eggs, chicken, pork, goat meat and live goats for 4-H projects. They also farm grapes, field corn, grains, and vegetables. She has an associate degree in dairy cattle production and management and a bachelor’s degree in agriculture business.

Joy works as a program facilitator for the Girl Scouts of Western New York and a grape inspector for Welch’s. Her days and nights are pretty busy: she is also a certified kids’ yoga instructor and an active volunteer and board member of the nonprofit Fredonia Farmers’ Market.

Rebecca Joy’s vibrant, one-of-a-kind handmade flag pennants will be displayed prominently throughout the Williams Center and the Science Center during the Fredonia Mini Maker Faire on the campus of The State University of New York at Fredonia on Saturday, Oct. 22, to help you find your way around the free circus of creativity.

As a child, Joy was very active in her local 4-H and that is where she honed her skills as a seamstress and Maker. She first picked up a needle and thread at 7 years old.

“My first project was an elastic-waist skirt,” she recalls. “It had seashells on it.”

The 4-H projects got more challenging every year.

“I have to thank my mom, both grandmothers and a few 4-H leaders who helped me better my skills,” she says.

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Joy, pictured with her daughter, Myra Rose, is also on the board of the nonprofit Fredonia Farmers’ Market and occasionally hosts kids’ yoga sessions there on a volunteer basis.

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Drake often accompanies his mother and sister to the Fredonia Farmers’ Market.

Her children – Drake and Myra Rose – are her main source of inspiration, followed by the fabrics and supplies she has on hand.

“If I see something online or in a magazine that I like, I usually modify the item into something that I love,” she says. “I rarely use a pattern, but if I do I make the pattern myself 95% of the time. If someone tells me what they are thinking of for the final product, I usually can visualize it and make it happen.”

Joy does some custom-order projects and tailoring by request on the side.

“I’m constantly hemming pants, fixing zippers on jackets and completing orders,” she says. “I’ve patched holes in shirts and I have even fixed a patio umbrella.”

She dabbles in many crafty areas – knitting, crocheting and repurposing among them. Right now she is attempting to quilt two blankets but is finding that quilting isn’t her favorite genre.

The path to learning a new skill and starting challenging products isn’t always easy, and Joy’s advice for burgeoning makers is to keep trying.

“It can be hard,” says Joy. “I cried sometimes when I was younger working on my 4-H projects, but in the end I loved what I had made. I still have times where I want to give up on an order. Instead I put it down for a couple days and then return to it. Sometimes you just need to walk a way to get a fresh perspective. I return to the project after a couple days and – voila – it’s a cinch to finish.”

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One of Joy’s most popular sewn items are her one-of-a-kind patchwork-style skirts. She occasionally vends at the Fredonia Farmers’ Market and takes custom orders.

As her talents and interests have evolved, Joy has found that her creative habits and thriftiness have served to enhance her family and professional life.

“I have become more resourceful,” says Joy. “Right now I am reusing scraps of fabric that I didn’t know what to do with to turn into a rug.”

Joy just attended the Pittsburgh Maker Faire held the weekend of Oct. 15 and says it was a “great experience.”

“I feel that some of the Makers’ crafts are a dying art,” she says. “So educating others and possibly getting them to spark an interest in a new craft is awesome and beneficial to so many.”

Joy is pleased her pennants will be featured throughout the faire although she is unable to participate as a featured Maker due to work commitments – it is grape harvesting season, after all. But she is hoping to stop by to check it out depending on her schedule.

“Duty calls,” laughs Joy. “Grape season is my busiest time but at the very least I’ll be at the Maker Faire in spirit.”

Admirers of Joy’s work are welcome to direct custom design and tailoring inquiries to bizzybee138@hotmail.com.

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Joy and Myra Rose at a recent meeting of the board of directors of the Fredonia Farmers’ Market.

 

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