Friday, 6 April 2012

Feed Sacks and a few Glimpses


How weird is this weather? Heatwave last week, two days ago they were ankle deep in snow not that many miles north of us, and then this morning - here comes the sun again! At least we had a good 36 hours of rain, we need it here in dry old East Anglia. My poor pots are going to take a hammering as we've just been hit by a hose-pipe ban due to last the rest of the year!

Ok, I said I'd talk about Feed Sacks. These fabrics were literally used to package animal feed. During the Depression Era in the USA, people were hard up. In rural communities, women were hard pressed to afford material to make new clothes for their families. Feed sacks were taken apart and re-used to back rugs, and make utilitarian household items, and sometimes even clothes. Canny feed merchants realised that if they printed their sacks with patterns mimicking cotton prints, women would persuade their farmer husbands to buy that particular brand of feed. The trend caught on, extending to flour, sugar, salt and meal bags also. The sacks would be re-cycled to make clothes, and when these wore out, they would in turn be re-recycled to make quilts. Many of these exist today, and they have become collectors' items.

These examples are taken from a book called "Sugar Sack Quilts'" and it's by Glenna Hailey.

In the 1980's, in response to the modern quilting boom, reproduction versions of the old feed sack fabrics appeared, and a new generation of quilters discovered their appeal. I doubt if many of those users of the original fabrics would approve of this new trend, as they would represent a time of poverty, and possibly shame. We younger women hold them in regard for precisely their humble and practical origins. You will find heaps of other books on the subject, and if you search on google, you could probably write a doctorate with the deluge of information you'll find.

Now, a little about the craft fair which I'm working towards. It's to be held at Drove Orchards Farm on May 7th, the Bank Holiday Monday. If you're within driving distance of North Norfolk, the venue lies between the villages of Holme-Next-The-Sea and Thornham, on the coast road. They held a successful Christmas Market last year, and propose five more events in 2012. I'm delighted to be having a stall, my very first! Below are some glimpses of a few of the items I hope to be selling.

Phew, got a bit carried away there! Having only recently started to feel reasonably confident at uploading photos I'm finding it a bit addictive! Mind you, having said that, I know I enjoy blogs with a bit of colour and eye candy as well as the textual content. So I hope you enjoyed this small selection; there will also be quilts, bags and jewellery on the stall.

We are at this moment having an extended Good Friday breakfast. J is tackling the Independent's crossword, I'm blogging, and the sun is streaming through the dining room windows - though it is 'crisp' outdoors. A lovely easy day ahead of us before the busy week-end; my mum's 90th birthday, with meals out, family celebration at ours - and the cooking and preparation that entails...all good fun! I hope your Easter is equally busy and happy in which ever way you spend it. See you next time!


  1. Heather Collins6 April 2012 at 09:06

    Love the pics of the feed sack quilts and stuff - good luck with the craft fair.

  2. All looking great my lovely. See you next week x

  3. I love the idea of the feed sacks.....your work is beautiful....xx

  4. Thanks for popping by to visit, Mel!


    Here is the URL link thing......I found you via Henhouse, I think, I was blog hopping a lot today!


  6. Great, there you are - in the blog-roll! Tah Dah!

  7. Hi Lynne, it's Laura, we met today while I was at work and I've just looked on my blog to find your lovely comment awaiting me there - thanks so much for taking the time to get in touch, it was lovely to hear from you and it really brightened my day receiving such a nice comment :)

    I'm glad to hear you enjoyed reading my waffle about kimono, I hope to get some more info written up soon but just never seem to get round to it! I really enjoyed reading your post about Feed Sacks and their history - I'd never heard of the subject before, but I admire how resourceful those women were to recycle them into so many other things (and how crafty those merchants were to start printing them with patterns to get people to buy their wares!)

    I was also fascinated to hear you mention you'd tried your hand at shibori and indigo dyeing in your comment; it must have been a lot of work! How did you enjoy it? I hope you'll write a post about your experiences with the techniques someday :) I never cease to be amazed by the range of techniques used to decorate kimono, but my favourite has always been yuzen dyeing - there's a wonderful video on Youtube at showing the process of making a yuzen-decorated kimono from start to finish, well worth a watch in my humble opinion! :)

    Your glimpses of the items you'll be selling at the craft show look positively scrumptious, I do hope it goes well for you. I don't drive, but if I can get there I will - I do love a good craft fair! Whoever picked the date for it has excellent taste too, since May 7th is my birthday, haha :o)

    Well it's been lovely vising your blog, I have to say it looks really fabulous so far - I'd never have guessed you were new to blogging :) I'll be sure to check back regularly and will no doubt bump into you in the shop again at some point. Look forward to chatting with you again in the future! Best wishes, Laura.

  8. Laura, thanks for your comments. I've done a bit of dyeing with Procien dyes - you get a really lovely 'hand' to your fabrics when you dye them, which commercial fabrics never seem to replicate. The indigo dyeing was at a workshop when I was a memebr of Anglia Textile Works, aart quilt group. We met at a member's home and prepared our fabrics shibori-style, and then dyed them using real indigo. The results were amazing! All different, so many different ways to stitch'tie your fabric prior to dyeing. I still have a few precious scraps, they'll get used up some day no doubt.

    Speak soon, pop back and see me again! Lx

  9. What a lovely blog, full of things I love....
    Sue Xxx

  10. Thankyou Sue, lovely to 'meet' you! As you can see from my list of favourite textile books, I love Judith Baker Montano's work, and your bag so reminds me of her stitching.I'm working hard on my photographs at the moment as they aren't really hwat I'd like them to be, but hopefully they are giving some idea of what I get up to. Catch you soon! Lx

  11. Hi Lynne, bought the roberta horton book you had on yourlist. It is super. Thanks for the recommendation

  12. Like you needed another book! But glad you're enjoying it, Katy, she is a great quilter and author; I have another 2 of hers and they are still as fresh as when I purchased them.

    Lovely to hear from you, thanks for commenting - pop by again! Lx


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