Quilters and home sewers during the depression often used found materials such as blankets, flour and feed sacks, and even older quilts and clothing. Flour and feed sacks especially offered a low-cost source or textile for a wide range of home sewing projects.
Flour and Feed sacks were used for sewing well before the depression and for several years after.
During the early and mid-1800s, manufactures started to package and sell animal feed, grain, seed, and household staples, such as flour and sugar, in factory-made cotton muslin bags. Manufactured sacks were often printed the name of the company or product information and also illustrations of the product or company logo. Women often bleached the sacks to remove these company markings, and sometimes dyed the fabric to match other fabric that they already had. In the 1920s the use of sacks become even more popular and manufacturer’s started to use colorful flower and theme prints that could be more easily used for making dresses, aprons, shirts and children’s clothing. The printed patterns become so popular that women even traded sacks in order to get specific patterns that matched fabric they already had or for colors and prints they wanted. It’s not always easy to spot feed sack fabric.
The use of printed feed sacks for sewing continued well after World War II. Even though the economy improved during the 1940s it was necessary to conserve because of the need for war supplies. Using feed sacks for sewing was considered patriotic and women still enjoyed finding attractive prints on feed sacks. This continued until the 1950s when paper packaging became more cost effective and the production of cotton sacks declined. By 1948 this new industry cornered more than half of the bag market and the cloth bag fell out of use.