Feed Sacks – (Call for Stories!) Mother Necessity’s Sewing Champion

Feed Sacks – (Call for Stories!) Mother Necessity’s Sewing Champion

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Feed sacks are the perfect example of a utilitarian product turned into something beautiful. Our friend Janine Vangool (creator of UPPERCASE magazine) recently introduced us to a forthcoming book from UPPERCASE, written by author Linzee Kull McCray, who explores the history of the humble feed sack, from a plain burlap or cotton sack to exuberantly patterned and colourful bags that were repurposed into frocks, aprons and quilts by thrifty housewives in the first half of the 20th century. Extensive imagery and at-scale reproductions of these fabrics create an inspiring sourcebook of pattern and colour—and offer a welcome visit to a slower-paced way of life.

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We just love to hear your stories of quilts and quilt tops made by mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers, and so many of these heirlooms are made from feed sacks. They were often made from scraps left over from sewing clothing for their children. This makes them gorgeous artifacts of a time gone by, when women found a way to make something beautiful from every bit of leftover fabric they had.

While there’s plenty of history on feed sacks and the ways they were used, we’re looking for more personal stories from the people who experienced them firsthand. We’d love to hear your stories and answers to the following questions:

  • Do you have a feed sack quilt made by a female relative?
  • Did you or someone you know ever wear a garment made from feed sacks?
  • How and where did they get the sacks?
  • What kinds of things did they make with them?
  • How did they feel about feed sack clothing/household linens?
  • Do you have any connections to historical feed sack manufacturers, designers or things of note?

To answer these questions and have your story included in this publication,  please fill out the survey form HERE! We can’t wait to hear from you! The form will close on July 25th, so don’t wait!

If you’d like to know more about the book, check it out HERE!

  • Joy Schopp Baker

    When I was a little girl many of my clothes were made from flour sacks. If my mother wanted to make a dress with a gathered skirt, she hoped the next time she bought flour that the same print was on the store shelf.

  • Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Joy! What a wonderful memory of your mother. 🙂

  • Marianne

    I’m of the Feedbag Generation! I made my first 4-H skirt with a sack. We also had dishtowels, sheets, pillowcases, kitchen curtains, and davenport covers. Our family farmed; raised and retailed turkeys; sold milk from our dairy cows; and had a feed store. As a child, I ran a commercial garden farm stand and between customers I pieced quilts from feedbags. I purchased my supply from the feed customers not willing to pay the extra 25cents for the ‘fancy bags’ as Dad called them. Feed came in burlap for no extra charge; white for a dime extra; and fancy bags for a quarter, so we took the bags back and refunded their quarter.
    I still have an abundant supply that I’m again piecing into quilts. I’m calling it my “When I Am Old” Ecclesiastes 1:9 series. Now that I’m old, I’m piecing my old bags into 1900’s patterns on my old equipment and hand quilting on an antique roller frame. They shall be as original in appearance as if made back in the mid 1900’s!

  • Patsy Beaubouef

    I am 64 years old and we also wore clothes made from feed sacks. One of the earliest things I remember about feed sacks was the little organizer/ backpack that our mothers made to go on the back of our chairs in 1st and 2nd grade. We had long tables with a 6 or so kids at each. We sat in small chairs with a rounded back. Our teacher would send home a paper template on brown paper, and our mothers made the organizer that slipped over the back of the chair. It had a large pocket for paper tablets and small book, and a row of small pockets for crayons, scissors, paste, etc. I still have one of my organizers my mother made from feed sacks as well as a quilt.
    My father was a butcher at a local grocery store, that also sold livestock feed. We would show him a sack that we had one of and tell him how many more of that same pattern we needed if we were making curtains, etc. I also remember playing on the sacks of feed in the back of the store while my mother did her shopping. They were 50 pound baqs of grains which made nice mounds when jumping from one to another. You could get a little over a yard of approximately 40″ wide fabric from one feedsack if you unraveled the stitching. We also wound the string the sack were sewn with into balls to use later.