Quilting, Farming, Variety

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Feed Sack Blocks

I love feed sack fabric! Maybe it's because I remember going to the little country store, and after buying the things on the list of groceries which we needed, Mama, my sister, and I would go into the feed room, searching for a sack of feed that was in a bag with the same designs as sacks we had at home. The sacks were more or less a square yard in size, so naturally it took more than two or three to make a dress. In the feed room there was that wonderful, sweet smell of the cow feed. The sacks were in colorful, flowered, or maybe whimsical designs. Feed for pigs, "shorts" as it was called, came in plain white bags and these were used for quilt linings or dish drying towels. They could be dyed for a colored lining. After the feed was used, the sacks were washed on the rub board, starched, dried on the clothesline, brought in and sprinkled down, and then ironed with a heavy "sad" iron. (I wonder why it was called "sad"; because so many times the iron was too hot and scorched the fabric?)

This is a quarter of a block made from feed sack fabric; still a very bright color despite being probably 70-80 years old. Being a very difficult pattern must have had something to do with the fact that it isn't very well put together; too many "Y" seams! It seems to me the individual pieces weren't cut true to the pattern.
Although the points on the edges of this block aren't in the picture, you can see what a finished block looked like; I imagine it's about nine to ten inches, more or less square.

With this block you see that it made no difference if one ran out of fabric to cut all pieces the same; just add another print

These are twelve little squares from feed sacks. I have a small box full of these and other prints; I think they were meant to be made into four patch or nine patch blocks. Aren't they just precious? I had a blouse made from the third one down on the left and I think I had a skirt made from the one to its right. I don't know what is the best way to use them; keep them as they are, or try to match them up with white sacks and make a wall hanging? No matter what monetary value they might have, they mean more to me than any amount of money. The next person possessing them can decide I guess.
The last four squares have a little story behind them: my sister chose the sacks for a dress, but later didn't know if she really liked them, until we found the same pattern and color on fabric in the Sears, Roebuck catalog when we got home. Then it was alright.
Do you remember feed sack dresses or quilts?


  1. What an enjoyable post! Anything made from feed sacks has a certain appeal that I relate to. You have a really nice sampler of pretty feed sack squares. Just wondering... were feed sacks limited editions? LOL By that, I mean, were there just so many made of a particular print? It would have been my luck to have needed one more sack, just to find there wasn't another one in the feed room!

  2. I think if you came up short there was the possibility of trading with a neighbor; you might have something she needed and she would be willing to trade.

  3. I read this and it makes me sad in a way. Everything we buy now is wrapped in "throw-away" plastic of some sort or another. And even though that plastic can be sent to a recycling center, so it can be made into something else, it's just not the same, is it.