The other day, I was watching an older Ken Burns documentary about the Dust Bowl which occurred roughly between 1930-1939. There were interviews with individuals who had lived through ten years of terrible drought and dust storms in Oklahoma, Colorado, and Texas. After watching the movie I couldn’t help but appreciate all the rain and snow we get in the Northeast. I also developed a deep appreciation for the grit, tenacity and resilience that the individuals in the documentary displayed. Further, there was a portion of the movie where they talked about Feed Sack fabrics.
Have you heard of them? Do you know what I am referring to? If yes, then you can skip to the end of this post. If no, then settle in for a bit.
First, farmer’s wives used to buy flour, corn meal, wheat, sugar, rice and more in fabric sacks. Large fabric sacks, of various sizes, depending upon their contents. For example, it was common to purchase a 50 pound sack of flour. Around the time of the Depression, 1930s and into the 1940s, women saw the potential in using the fabric from these sacks. Ever frugal and always ensuring nothing went to waste, these women used the fabric from these sacks to make dresses, shirts, quilts, aprons, undergarments, children’s clothing, pillow cases, and more.
Once the manufacturers caught on to the fact that women were using the fabric in these sacks for other purposes, they started to design and print the sacks in different patterns that they thought would appeal to these farmer’s wives. Usually, these patterns were small floral prints or small geometric shapes. They were usually bright and happy colors that are reminiscent of Spring and Summer. Occasionally, I will come across some feed sack fabric that has unusual patterns that include animals or fruit. Most often, the ones I find consist of small charming prints of cheerful flowers.
Some how it warms my heart knowing that these women had to endure such difficult times but they had these bright cheerful fabrics to brighten their day.
Anne Brenemen does an excellent job discussing the different types of feed sack fabrics, their history and their uses. You can read her post here.
Whenever I come upon these fabrics sold as a “lot”, I often end up acquiring them. Here are some images of some of the recent feed sack fabrics that I found.
It’s amazing how well this fabric holds up considering its age. Many of the fabric pieces are 80 to 90 years old. In today’s day and age, these fabrics can still be used to repair old quilts that were crafted from this material. Of course, you can still make aprons, quilts, shirts, children’s clothes, and more with these fabrics.
Here are couple other images of feed sack fabrics that I found on the website Feedsack and Feedbags. Can you see how there is similarity in the scale of the prints? Aren’t they cute?
I love that we can still honor the history of these fabrics and the women who went to so much effort to save them. Thank you for stopping by the blog today. Wishing you all a Happy New Year!