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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Feed Bags. Yesterday and Today!

What are we doing now with feed bags! A couple of weeks ago, I attended my first CT Weavers Guild meeting. There was a workshop going on, making new plastic feed bags into shopping bags. This is not something new, my sister has horses and makes them with lovely horses on them.  But something clicked in while seeing the weavers having fun with feedbags. I was about to throw away my Rabbit Chow bag... and then.... Wait! I can make a shopping bag!

When I was a little girl in Connecticut, we raised rabbits. My mom, being a New England farmer, used the emptied sacks to make clothing, curtains, aprons and quilts. I still have some of her quilts. She liked crazy quilts with the kids clothing scraps and feed bag fabric scraps.

Crazy Quilt by Phyllis Albrecht Britton...  1960s

Feed sacks were not always mustard colored burlap. One thinks of women and girls parading around in course, ugly burlap sacks. Not so.

Linen and cotton bags were used way back for storing feed and grains. With the invention of the sewing machine and lock stitch strong enough to hold feed and grain, plain, heavy canvas was a perfect material. Synthetics, became popular in the 1910s, and cotton fell out of favor for garments and was available cheaply for holding grain and feed. It was tight enough to hold the feed, durable and it breathed.

feed sack dresses 1947

In the 1920s, a cloth bag manufacturer thought more grain sacks would sell if they had a nice print on them and a detachable label so that the farmers wife can reuse the material. Throughout our great depression, the bags were desired for home use as shortages of every material made the colorful bags useful.  Sometime in the 1950s colorful fabric bags became more expensive to make and they fell out of fashion.

You can still buy these lovely old prints on Ebay and at tag sales. My moms quilt scraps still exist in the crazy quilts she made, long after our dresses and curtains have been thrown out.

Here we are 50 years later, and the next generation is making stuff out of those new plastic feed sacks again! The material is very sturdy, waterproof and comes in a variety of colors and patterns.  What fun!

Take a look in those food bins you have for your dogs, cats and birds... Right here in my kitchen I see we have a new sack of Cat chow for Tessa and there is a nice dog in the crock bin for Rusty that is about ready to be sewn into another sack.

And if you have a farm nearby, keep an eye out for some unusual sacks to pick up.

It is a great way to recycle, show people you like cats, or rabbits or potbellied pigs, use instead of plastic shopping bags the stores pass out by the billions and they make great gifts... kids love them.

Check out the links below. Google "feed sack totes and bags" for design ideas, buy them at craft fairs and farmers markets. I saw a cleaver person make a tarp by sewing a few bags together... how about a crazy quilt of bags for your lawn mower to replace that blue one you bought at Job Lot?

Life can be fun... Make it so.

1 comment:

J Auclair said...

A tarp! What a good idea!