AtoZ Letter V...Valued Vintage Fabrics

Are you a 'Stickler' for correct use of Vintage, Antique, Retro and Collectible?
vin·tage adj \ˈvin-tij\: of old, recognized and enduring interest, importance, or quality:  classic;  2: Old-Fashioned, Outmoded. 
I am kind of a stickler when it comes to identifying anything 'Vintage'.  So, with the definition in mind, I would have to say I am Vintage....after all, I am Old Fashion and enduring...plus I was born in the 1940's and collect Vintage Fabrics.  In the decade before my birth...1930's...Feed and Flour Sacks were 'Useable Collectibles' and a commodity during the time of the Great Depression.  It was also a time that held some notion of romance at the idea that women could make something beautiful from something so mundane as a 'SACK'.
Feed Sacks were used for sewing well before the depression and for several years after. The evolution of the feed sack is a story of ingenuity and clever marketing. 
 Initially farm and food products were shipped in barrels. Between 1840 and 1890 cotton sacks gradually replaced barrels and the invention of the 'stitching machine' in 1846 made it possible to sew double locking seams strong enough to hold the contents of a bag.
The first ones were made of heavy canvas and then of  inexpensive cotton sized to correspond to barrel sizes...one barrel bag held 196 pounds of flour.  The brand name of the flour was printed on the bag.  Women quickly discovered these bags could be used as fabric for quilts and other needs.
With the influx of rayon and other synthetic fabrics, the bottom dropped out of the cotton market causing Feed Sack manufactures to take a different approach in their marketing strategies.

It took awhile for feed and flour sack manufacturers to realize how popular these sacks had become with women.   The first feed sacks began to be sold in colors around 1925 in colorful prints for making dresses, aprons, shirts and children's clothing.  By the late 1930's there was a heated competition to produce the most attractive and desirable prints.  This turned out to be a great marketing ploy as women picked out flour, sugar, beans, rice, cornmeal and even the feed and fertilizer for the family farm based on which fabrics they desired. 
With the flour industry consuming the largest share of the feed sack market, it was not hard for the farmer and his wife to purchase their goods in feed sacks. The Sacks came in different sizes and the quality of the cloth varied with the item it carried. For example, sugar sacks were much finer in weave. By 1914, sacks came in pound sizes, and by 1937 President Roosevelt standardized sizes by measurement...50 pounds feed sack measured 24x38; 100 pounds measured 39x46.
I have been a Feed/Flour Sack Collector and Quilter for many years. The 1930's Original Fabrics as well as the Reproductions of those fabrics are my absolute favorites. When it came time to close out my Quilt Shop, I KEPT ALL of these favorites, and continue to add them to my Fabric-A-Rama Stash.
Photos by CollectInTexas Gal....1925 Newspaper and Farm Life magazine from my Iowa Mother and Grandmother's collection.
History of Feed and Flour Sack from:  Buchanan County, Iowa Historical Society  


  1. I love your vintage fabrics. I am pretty sure that I've seen these prints somewhere before, or prints very close, especially the prints on the two center images.

    You have such wonderful collections. :)

    Have a blessed day!

  2. I have been to many antique shops but I don't think I've actually seen feed sack fabric like these. I've only seen ones with the company name and logo on the front. Of course, maybe those were flour sacks, not necessarily feed sacks. Were they different?

  3. Feed sack sounds itchy to me. However your collection looks fabulous

  4. Wow, I had no idea. Not burlap, eh? That's definitely reusing, something we aspire to today.

    Liz A. from
    Laws of Gravity

  5. May I read this to my little quilt guild, at our next meeting? I know the ladies would be interested.

  6. My mom said her undies and clothes was a lot of time made from flour sack. I get quite a bit of my fabric from thrift stores.
    Coffee is on


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