Loryn: Feedsacks, floursacks, just about anything that came in a sack (including flour, beans, chicken feed, and rice) was sold in bright printed fabric during the depression era. Feedsacks have to be the best marketing ploy for crafters that has ever come along! In the 1920s, manufacturers realized that lots of housewives used the sack fabric, and they would buy even more if it was a pretty print. Here in the middle of Indiana, with all of our farms, we have lots of feedsacks around even today.
So, how do you know if you have a feedsack? The first clue is a cotton fabric with a tell-tale loose weave, that looks something like this:
Most feedsacks are very loosely woven
Not all fabric with that weave was actually a feedsack, though, as you could buy the same fabric in yardage. The sacks were usually between 36-39″ wide and 43-46″ long. If you have the entire sack, you should be able to see the stitching holes along two sides, like this:
If the sack has been taken apart, you can still see the stitching holes
Sometimes you’ll find a sack still stitched together. The seam was sewn with a chain stitch, so it pulled out easily. I’ve come across one with the label still intact, too. If you fabric doesn’t show the stitching holes, it may have been yardage. From a crafting viewpoint, though, the prints are just as nice!
I really enjoy sewing with feedsacks, as the prints are great and the cotton fabric is very easy to handle. I often line feedsack items because of the loose weave, to give it a little more body.
Now on to a gallery of prints!
Gorgeous red print, one of my mom’s (Lynne’s) favorites! This one is even more loosely woven than most.
Red stripe. Stripes can be challenging, because the stripe is not always on the grain of the fabric.
One of my favorite prints!
I have several sacks in this print, and you’ll see them in use soon!
I only have a few scraps of this print, which is too bad.
Yellow is one of Cheri’s favorite colors, so I’ve used this fabric in projects for her.
I love this bright gingham, but the print is slightly off register.
A fun print.
One of my favorites.
This is one of the first feedsacks I ever purchased, while antiquing in college.
Feedsacks were made into the 60s (though in more limited quantity), and I suspect this is a late print.
This is a change from the bright prints that I usually prefer.
This one has a few stains. The oxy boiling method will get rid of all of them!
Like the bright pink one above, this has a woven stripe.
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing part of my collection! For a fun read on feedsacks (including a woman who left the part of the label that said ”self rising” on her husband’s drawers!), head to womenfolk.com. For a site that is full of information, head to quiltersmuse.com.