×

Patterns are her passion

  • Designs by Joyce LeBlanc of Rindge will be featured in this year's League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Fair. —Courtesy photos

  • Designs by Joyce LeBlanc of Rindge will be featured in this year's League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Fair. —Courtesy photos

  • Designs by Joyce LeBlanc of Rindge will be featured in this year's League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Fair. —Courtesy photos

  • Designs by Joyce LeBlanc of Rindge will be featured in this year's League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Fair. —Courtesy photos

  • Designs by Joyce LeBlanc of Rindge will be featured in this year's League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Fair. —Courtesy photos

  • Children's clothing designs by Joyce LeBlanc of Rindge will be featured at the 85th Annual League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Fair on Aug. 4-12. —Courtesy photos

  • Children's clothing designs by Joyce LeBlanc of Rindge will be featured at the 85th Annual League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Fair on Aug. 4-12. —Courtesy photos

  • Children's clothing designs by Joyce LeBlanc of Rindge will be featured at the 85th Annual League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Fair on Aug. 4-12. —Courtesy photos



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Friday, August 03, 2018 4:0AM

Joyce LeBlanc remembers sitting at her mother’s side, watching her sew, desperate to try it for herself. It was the introduction to what would become her life-long passion.

LeBlanc, of Rindge, will be taking her work, mainly her children’s clothing designs, to the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Fair this week. It will be her first time being included in the event, which has become a driving force for the economics of hand-crafters of all mediums across the state. It’s a long-time dream of hers that she’ll be able to see fulfilled, she said, after being accepted into the League in October of 2017.

“This year has been one of the best years of my life,” LeBlanc said.

She has spent most of this year planning for the League’s fair, a week-long event held in Sunapee.

LeBlanc first became interested in becoming a member of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen when she was working as a seamstress, and took on as a customer Miriam Carter of Dublin, the League’s executive director, and later other League members. With Carter’s encouragement, she decided to submit her work to be peer-reviewed, and officially joined the league last year.

“It’s a matter of looking at your skill level and your skill sets, but also looking at the spirit of the maker,” Carter said. “We ask, ‘Can you identify that artist’s work by looking at it?’”

The League’s fair has become an important fundraiser for the League, and a major source of many of their member’s yearly revenue, Carter said. The fair will feature 200 craftspeople on the show floor, and is a draw for tourists across the state and beyond.

“The fair generated $1.2 million in sales for our craftspeople last year. It’s an important piece of the creative economy,” Carter said.

And it helps to bolster artisanship that’s becoming more and more hard to come by, she said.

“Handmade things tell a story, and there are a lot of relationships that are built by simply buying a handmade mug from a potter, and using that to drink out of every day. I love handcrafted things, because they bring value to my life.”

Preparing for the fair is a full-time occupation, LeBlanc said, and has allowed her to return her focus to her true love – designing and producing children’s clothing.

LeBlanc attended the School of Fashion Design in Boston, where she focused on pattern making and couture detailing. After she graduated she worked at a hand-made clothing store, where she designed her own line of children’s clothing. When she had her own children, three daughters and a son, she made most of their clothing growing up.

“I have a real passion for dressing children special,” LeBlanc said. “I firmly believe that how you treat a child affects how they see themselves as an adult. Not that fashion is everything, but if your child has special pieces of clothing, that’s going to make them feel special, and that can later carry onto their adulthood, the idea that they’re worth taking care of.”

LeBlanc specializes in children’s outerwear, particularly a style of wool pea coat that she said are hearty enough to become a family heirloom, passing from child to child or even down a generation. Her style is classic, bordering on vintage, said LeBlanc, but with a modern take on the fabrics and colors, particularly the linings, which are have colorful prints with pirates, foxes, tigers, or flowers – more fun than the typical solid-colored satin usually found in wool coats, LeBlanc said.

“Several years ago, someone gave me a coat with a print lining, and it left an impression on me, that linings can be fun,” LeBlanc said. “Moms like it, because they get a really nice coat for their kids, and kids like it, because there’s something fun inside.”

When it comes to her designs, LeBlanc said, “there’s nothing new under the sun,” so she often starts with an existing pattern, though she said that unique and stylish children’s clothing patterns are a vanishing commodity. She often returns to patterns she collected as a teenager in the 1970s, as she was learning to sew. And it’s a family joke that she never sticks to a pattern completely, often piecing together a design taking details from multiple patterns to create something unique.

After accomplishing her goal of joining the League and showing at the fair, she said, her next dream is to create, individual, unique pieces of bespoke clothing for children.

“I think that the way the world has become, everyone and their brother wears the same thing,” LeBlanc said. “A big dream I have is to be able to work with the customer intimately to create something really special.”

If you are interested in learning more about LeBlanc’s designs or commissioning a piece from her, email jldesigns70@gmail.com. Her designs will also be for sale at the 85th Annual League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Fair, held from Friday, Aug. 4, through Sunday, Aug. 12, at the Mount Sunapee Resort.

Admission to the fair costs $15 for adults, $13 for seniors, veterans and active duty military, and $12 per person for groups of 20 or more. Children 12 and under are free. For complete Fair information, including tickets, visit www.nhcrafts.org/annual-craftsmens-fair/. The event will be held rain or shine.