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Feedsack Dresses and Fabric
Depression Era Clothing Made from Feedsacks
My 85 year old mom tells about wearing dresses made from feed sack material in the 1930s. People think that sounds terribly quaint, but it was quite common during the Great Depression.
People bought chicken feed or flour in large bags of 50 to 100 pounds. These bags, made of cotton, became popular for sewing projects when the feed sacks went from plain white material to flowered, checked and plaids.
The feedsack material was used to make dish towels, curtains, and quilts.
The photo shows my mom, Gail Lee Martin with her sister and two cousins. They're wearing their feed sack dresses, made by their mothers. My mother is wearing a ribbon in her hair. Her sister Melba McGhee is in the light colored dress. (left to right) Twyla Yeager, Melba and Gail McGhee, and Lucile Vining.
Feedsack Dress or Not?
This family photo dates back to the early 1940s. Even though the Great Depression was over, thrifty farm families sewed their own clothing and still used the colorful, printed fabric from feedsacks for dresses, curtains and in their quilt making.
Since the patterns of these textiles were very much like what was seen in the stores, it is sometimes hard to tell if a dress from that era was homemade or from a shop. In looking at this photo, I'm undecided if this is a feedsack dress or not.
(photo from the McGhee family album)
This Photo Shows How Colorful a Vintage Feedsack Dress Is
The owner of Dreemco said, "I'm obsessed with feedsack material. I collect it whenever I can find it to make blouses for myself. I also specifically seek out feedsack clothing for the shop.
My Mother and My Aunt Examine a Quilt with Feedsack Material
Quilts Made of Feedsack Material
Look at the wonderful colors and patterns in these vintage quilts made of feedsack material. This cotton fabric stayed nice and bright if the quilts were not washed too often.
It's possible to find 70 year old quilts that haven't faded at all. Some were safely stored away over the years and barely used.
More about Feedsack Quilts
- Patchwork History Quilt Tells Family Stories
Heirloom family history quilts are part of my family's tradition. Some suggestions for you to get started on a family history quilt and some show and tell from my family's collection.
Singer Sewing Machine and Feed Sack Material - Photo by Gail Lee Martin
Other Ways to Use Feedsack Material - Books available from Amazon
The general term is feed sack material, but sugar and flour and cornmeal came in cotton sacks also. Other fabric sacks might hold potatoes, rice or salt. Some of these might not have the pretty patterns of a feedsack but would have a brand name or product name stamped on it. Those could be bleached out to leave a plain fabric to use for sewing.
Feed Sack Art
Need some more ideas for what to do with your collection of vintage or reproduction feedsack material?
Etsy - A Good Place to Find Vintage Feedsack Material
Lots of photos, plus memories of how these fabrics were use. This has a price guide and suggestions for getting started collecting.
More About Feed Sacks - Hand-picked websites with more information
- The Blushing Rose
We are the largest purveyor of feedsacks on the internet, carrying over 1,500 plus on our website.
- Feedsack Quilts and Clothing - a Frugal Fabric
The charming story of how feed sacks as well as flour and sugar bags made sewing & quilting on a low budget fun from the late 1800s to the 1950s. Girls Have Fun At The Vermont State Fair 1941 Posters by makemystyle
- Feedsacks and Feedbags
Feedsacks were cloth bags used to package goods, then reused for a number of household items including quilts.
- Read the First Chapter of The Feedsack Dress by Carolyn Mulford
When Gail wears a pretty feedsack dress the first day of ninth grade in 1949, the mean queen makes nasty comments about poor country kids. Every time Gail wears her homemade dress, something awful happens. Her refusal to buckle and her defense of the
My Aunt's Memories of the Dresses
My aunt, Carol Garriott, shared her memories of these:
I fondly remember my feed sack dresses! I got to go along when Mother & Daddy were buying feed for the chickens and cows, so I could pick out the print and colors I liked. Mother would save lace collars, rick rack, and other adornments from clothes that were faded or worn out, to use on the new clothing.
She kept patterns in a cardboard box with pieces of cardboard between the various styles. I was so proud when I went to school with a new dress! I especially liked the princess style. Aunt Carol (January 10, 2011)
(photo from the McGhee family album)
My Flint Hills Childhood (available from Blurb.com)
Other Feed Sack Stories - Available on Amazon
Video of a Fabric Historian Talking about 1930s Feedsacks
I found this pretty interesting It's about 9 minutes long.
I Found Another Lover of Feedsacks
While attending the Davenport Quilt show in central Florida, I met Pat Reid's daughter. She had a booth at the show featuring her mother's books and some feedsack fabrics for sale. I believe she does vintage feedsack trunk show and history presentations.
See the book cover below and just after that is her contact information.
Patricia Reid's Book - Feedsack 2'' Swatch Books
Zelma Ironing a Blouse Made of Feedsack Material Photographic Print
Buy at AllPosters.com
More Sites about Feedsack Material
- Vintage Feedsack Collecting Tips
This blog post gives 3 tips for collecting feedsack fabric.
- Feedsacks: A Tradition of Recycling and Repurposing
at Get Crafty.com
Historical Fiction Book for Teens
More Memories of Ways Feedsacks Were Used
- Feedsack Fabric - A Post on the Bubblews Mini-Blog Site
While I was at the fabric store earlier today, I wandered through the "30's prints" and leafed through a book I've had my eye on. ...
- Flour and Feed Sacks and Designer Dresses
A stroll down memory lane with some recollections of ordinary sacks that feed or flour was sold.
Vintage Sewing Machines
The old sewing machines usually had ornate decorations on them and would make a great conversation piece for your sewing room. Besides most of them are still in workable condition. Check at yard sales, estate sales and on eBay.