Local woman sews for others

Jacquie Funk, who dubbed herself “Fabric Procurement Coordinator”, puts fabric to good use by making items for those in need. She made the quilt in the background from 100 men’s silk ties.
Jacquie Funk makes these bags from denim and upholstery samples. These are just some of the many items she makes out of fabric to keep it from going to landfills.

If you talk to anyone who sews or does crafts with any type of fabric in Marion County, chances are they know Jacquie Funk and have probably gotten some fabric from her or donated some to her.

“Because local people know that I make charitable items, I am often contacted by individuals asking if I can make use of some fabric they have. I have several connections in Marion County with people or groups that make charitable items. With this knowledge, I’m able to go through a fabric collection and help disperse it to places that can make use of it,” said Funk.

She recently gave herself the title of “Fabric Procurement Coordinator”.

“It just seemed fitting,” said Funk.

Funk was taught to sew at an early age by both of her grandmothers. But she didn’t do much sewing until later in life.

“So many times when I went to visit Grandma Lois at her home over the years, she would take me in the bedroom and show me all the clothing protectors she’d been working on. I didn’t get involved in making the protectors until after Grandma passed away. After making a few clothing protectors and donating to a couple nursing homes, things just started rolling,” said Funk.

It wasn’t long before nursing homes started contacting Funk with requests. Then they asked if she could make them much longer so they covered the laps of the residents.

“I pulled together a small group of ladies to help with this endeavor. Over the years there have been several volunteers rotate in and out of our group, but three have remained steady partners —Barb Hein, Margaret Hett and Donna Dalke. During the last 12 years our little group has made and donated over 12,000 items,” said Funk.

They have expanded their crafts into lap robes for nursing homes, oxygen tube bags, fidget blankets, walker bags, baby items for crisis pregnancy centers and numerous items for Operation Christmas Child (OCC) boxes. From this desire to sew things for others, Funk developed her passion for fabrics of all kinds.

“One of the most recent projects I’ve started making is reusable menstrual pad kits. These kits—which include at least 8 pads, a wet bag for carrying, a drying strap, and underwear—will be placed in the OCC boxes for teenage girls. The only fabric I’ve purchased to make these is the waterproof layer that goes inside the pad. Many donated fabrics that might otherwise have been discarded are used in making these kits. Several people have donated upholstery fabric samples, which have come in very handy for making the bags to hold the kits. The cores of the pads are made with gently used microfiber towels and flannel. Blackout curtains, with the rubbery backing on them, can be used to make the wet bags,” said Funk.

Funk uses a pattern for the pads called the Starfish after the Starfish Story where the boy is on the beach throwing starfish into the ocean trying to save them. A man asks why he is even bothering when he can’t save them all and make any difference. The boy picks one up and throws it into the water and replies that he made a difference to that one.

“The lady named them that because of this story. I love this and have a copy on my office wall and on my sewing room wall. This is why I make the pads. I remind myself of this story quite often. The pads are a lot of work, but I love knowing that I’m making a huge impact in a few girls’ lives somewhere in the world,” said Funk.

Funk said that many girls can’t go to school during their periods. Many are forced to sit at home on cardboard to absorb the mess.

“I’ve even read that just having underwear on will keep a girl from being sexually abused. It has been appalling to realize what females are subjected to in other countries due to a lack of menstrual supplies. It all breaks my heart and I wish I could do more, but I have to remember this story,” she said.

Funk donates used t-shirts to a group that makes jump ropes for OCC boxes and fabric to a group that makes bandages for third-world countries. She donates double knit fabric to the Lutheran Church in Marion to make blankets for homeless people and cotton fabric to Eastmoor Church to make dresses for young girls in third-world countries.

“Beyond the multitude of items that myself and a few volunteers sew, I know what others need and use, and I send it on for the appropriate use. I even save tons of narrow strips for the local thrift store. They tie many things together with them and roll fabric to sell. I really don’t waste much of anything. Every project I work on generates scraps,” said Funk.

Funk also makes bags out of denim or upholstery fabric samples.

“I use the waistband of the jeans as the bag handle. I even make small purses out of the jeans pockets, and use the inseam of the jeans for the handles,” said Funk. “I’m currently working on many different types of bags for the OCC (Operation Christmas Child) boxes project.”

Of course, many different rescued, donated and gently used fabrics are put to use in these projects, because that is what Funk does.

“On any given day there is always some fabric or finished item in my car waiting to go to its next destination,” said Funk. “I love to take things that someone else would pitch in the trash and turn them into something beautiful! It sort of feels like it connects me to my ancestors when I do these things. So, this happy little Fabric Procurement Coordinator will continue to rescue fabric. If I can’t use it, I will keep trying to find people or groups that can make use of it for charitable projects.”

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