2018-09-06 / Life in Leelanau

Church members remake drapes into ‘Jubilee’ bags

By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff


THESE THREE women from Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Glen Arbor recycled the drapes in the church fellowship hall and transformed the fabric into tote bags for the homeless. Pictured, from left, are Karin Olson, Diane Elmer and Laurel Peterson. THESE THREE women from Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Glen Arbor recycled the drapes in the church fellowship hall and transformed the fabric into tote bags for the homeless. Pictured, from left, are Karin Olson, Diane Elmer and Laurel Peterson. Nearly three dozen homeless people will have something to help them carry their load, thanks to three women from a Glen Arbor church.

The trio of Diane Elmer, Laurel Peterson and Karin Olson from Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Glen Arbor took a page from “Gone with the Wind” when they repurposed drapes from their church to make tote bags for the homeless.

“We were redecorating our Fellowship Hall, giving it a fresh look,” said Elmer, who spearheaded the project. “The drapes were still in pretty good shape and we had a lot of discussion about what to do with them.”

Initially, the women thought about donating the drapes to Goodwill in Traverse City. But their attention then turned to Jubilee House, a daytime shelter based at Grace Episcopal Church in Traverse City. The House is run in conjunction with Safe Harbor, Grand Traverse.

“The people there carry everything they own in a bag,” Elmer said. “So we thought, ‘Why don’t we make bags?’”

The women had 25 yards of fabric from Greenfield Village Collection called “Tree of Life” with which to work.

Elmer, who in her spare time sews dresses for young girls in Africa, went right to work, dissecting a tote bag of her own to come up with a design.

“I took it apart and made a few adjustments,” she said. “It’s about the size of a grocery sack.”

The chores of cutting and sewing were spread among the women, who worked an accumulative 50-plus hours to complete the project.

The finished products, 30 bags in muted floral tones with rose highlights, has pockets. As an added feature, they added a panel on one side to write their name.

Not one to let anything go to waste, Elmer has put the scraps to good use.

“I made potholders for our kitchen area in the fellowship hall,” she said.

Likewise, Elmer fashioned towels to use in the church’s high tea events.

“You wet the towel and put it over the sandwiches to keep them moist,” she said.

All 30 of the colorful tote bags are expected to be delivered at Jubilee House later this month.

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