Last week my brother found a seller on craigslist that had some old dolls and said I should check it out. I did. The dolls were dressed wonderfully but were plastic from the 50’s, maybe. I don’t know much about that. But the seller, who was a wonderfully sweet older lady, had trunks of old linens she was selling. I quickly forgot the dolls.
She had many beautiful embroidery pillowcases, chenille bedspreads, lovely vintage tablecloths with fruits and flowers and floral flour sacks also called feed sacks. Almost like the dreams I have where you find an attic full of boxes of antique treasures stored away, (but not quite, she had been an antique dealer so she knew her prices so no great deals here)!!
I did buy all her flour sacks. Two were still sacks with thick cotton thread sewn edge. I love these fabrics! Do you know the story behind them?
Beginning in last 1800’s they started selling flour and other household products in cotton sacks but in the 1920’s and 30’s the manufactures realized how popular these had become with the “womenfolk” who used them for household items, dishtowels, clothing, pillowcases, doll-clothes, quilts. Cotton was cheaper too because synthetics were now showing up on the market. The manufactures first added color then started adding patterns. The 1930’s saw increased competition amongst the flour sack makers to produce the best designed prints and patterns on the market. Professional artists and local designers were commissioned to create the most desirable sack cloths ever seen. Sellers found that they could influence the type of sugar, rice, cornmeal, flour or fertilizer simply by the type of design the product was contained in. Marketing genius I say!
My grandmother once told me this story. Her mother would give her the sacks she didn’t want or her “extras” and send her around to the neighbors to trade for other sacks. She said that way you would have a variety if you were making a quilt or if you needed more of a pattern you could trade to get more. I love the idea of this. I think it is so charming. I can picture her coming in with her trades to show her mom what she had.
The reproduction fabrics have been popular again for the last 10 years and they are so awesome. I made a quilt many years ago using these fabrics and of course my mom has made many herself.
Several of the fabrics had some stains on them and I used a great recipe I found online for vintage linens and it worked remarkably well. I tried it first on some sturdy fabrics before these. I am amazed. One embroidery piece I bought as a cuter because of all the stains is now completely stain free!! Amazing. Click here for directions. I did about 5 batches for all the things I bought, whether they looked stained or not. I’m a fan. Easy too.
Thank you for being here. Enjoy your weekend.
how neat to see these…and to learn their story. which i had never known. such a fun find!!
so many really wonderful sewing and linen treasures! thanks for sharing them for all of us to see- I know how much time is involved in photographing and editing images for a blog post! I love you xoxo
Ha! I’ve had the same dream, I think! And thank you for that link to cleaning
Wow! What a great find! I love the collecting, too, as much as whatever function they end up filling.
I found some myself I paid a good price for them kinda high the man got upset in the store when I began to tell him my grandmom made my dresses out of them when I was little and slips out of flour sacks the woman there didn’t even know I guess some people never knew how it was to grow up on a farm be thrifty and poor but rich in other ways it’s like life going in full circle I have looked forever