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October 13, 2014

Today's Repurposeful Monday takes a look at the
interesting history of flour sack fabric.

Until the mid 19th Century goods were shipped in wood crates or barrels.  With the inventions of the cotton gin and the sewing machine it became cheaper to package fine-grain commodities such as flour, sugar and corn meal in fabric bags.

During the Depression fabric sacks rose in popularity as they were repurposed into clothing, kitchen towels and other household items.  Thriftiness became an essential attitude during the 1920s and 1930s and even after our country recovered from the worse economical period in our history, practicality did not go out of fashion.  Fabric sacks remained popular until the 1960s.

 Two women in feed sack dresses, left, ca 1947,
a typical dress required 3 sacks to complete;
washing instructions on a chicken feed sack, right.

Pattern design companies made repurposing
the sacks a little easier.

Some sacks came with embroidery patterns and sewing
instructions.  Scraps were put to use in quilts.

Certain brands of the flour sacks actually had
curtain patterns already stamped on them.

By the late 1950s plastic had taken over many forms of packaging.  As our economy prospered the demand for sack fabric greatly diminished and by the 1960s most grain companies were using burlap instead of cloth fabric.

Vintage grain and flour sacks are becoming harder to
find and are quite pricey.  The cost of this 18" x 21"
piece is for sale at $35 - roughly $70 per yard!

Our cost-saving ancestors would have a hard time believing that such a common, humble article would ever be so expensive and valued by collectors.  In today's 'disposable' world it would be nice to return to such a charming option for savings.


  1. great post! so interesting.
    have a great day!

  2. Would be lovely to return to using them. THere is far too much plastic used these days.

  3. I was born in 1947 and my mother and grandmother made quilts constantly, but I had never heard of these beautiful flour sacks. I'm Canadian; wonder if they were only available in the US?

    Nan, Toronto Canada

  4. I am lucky enough to have stacks and stacks of flour sack material. I started collecting in the 90's for my Grama's quilting and she returned them to me before she passed away. They are so very pretty and happy.


  5. I use to collect flour sack fabric, also can remember when women made dresses out of them, curtains, etc
    That material is still good today meaning strength wise