When it comes to sewing, Ellen Nathan has it all in the bags.
Little tote bags that is.
At 91, the Fremont woman recently finished sewing 110 cloth bags so children at Dodge County Head will have something to put their papers in so they can take them home.
Nathan also has made teddy bears of remembrance and pillows and a special quilt. By making these items, the local woman has found a way to share her sewing skills with others.
She learned how to sew from her mom.
“In those olden days, you had to do everything,” she said. “They wanted you to learn everything.”
More recently, Nathan’s granddaughter, Kim Bayliff, asked her to make the 14- by 17-inch bags. A woman who previously sewed the bags had quit and last spring Bayliff asked if Nathan would take on the task.
And she did.
Using colorful, donated fabric, Nathan figures she probably spent about an hour on each bag.
It was far from Nathan’s first sewing project.
After her husband, Edwin, died in January 2006, she made teddy bears for each of their four children, Garry, Sherry, Terry Jo and Ed, and grandchildren from different shirts he wore. The little bears feature button eyes. After Garry died, she made bears for his siblings and his widow, Kathie, and three children.
Gary Nathan worked for UPS in Omaha. His mom still has a brown bear she made from one of the UPS shirts he wore. She figures she can make one of the bears, which are about 12 inches high, in a day.
After the bears, she made pillows from her late husband’s overalls and shirts and one of Gary’s shirts, along with one of her own garments.
“I don’t use a pattern (for the pillows),” she said. “I just sew and it doesn’t take long.”
She made a quilt for her great-grandson, J.T. Vecera. The quilt features T-shirts from his various summertime sports events.
She plans to start making a quilt for great-granddaughter, Lexi, and probably more bags for Head Start.
Why take on the tote bag project?
“I thought I was doing some good,” she said. “You always feel better when you’re doing good. I have material left so I suppose I’ll be starting in again one of these days and make more (bags) for next year.”