Girls’ dresses and boys clothing along with other necessities were often made from one or more feed sacks in the 1930s and 1940s. Those were the fashion trends and women’s style at the time out of necessity. Life was hard due to the depression and the 1940s war and people sought ways to meet their needs and save those important budget dollars… if they had any… so dresses and shirts made from 1930s and 1940s feed sacks were a must…forget about the latest East Coast, high-rollers, women’s style fashions trends at the time…the majority of America could not afford them.
Scarcities of merchandise and cash
The scarcities of both merchandise and cash during the 1940s lead numerous homemakers to rely on resourcefulness and creativity to fulfill the needs of her family. Clothing, especially children’s dresses and shirts, as well as other items made from feed and flour sacks were a popular way to “make do without,” a sign of the times.
“My mother made it from a feed sack!”
Mothers would say to a daughter walking to her school in a newly different, hand-made dress cut and sewn together from the family supply of feed or flour sacks, “You don’t have to tell everything!” Yet the daughter’s exhilaration at having something new to wear sometimes resulted in the child’s spur-of-the-moment statement, “My mother made it from a feed sack!” when quizzed by a friend or her teacher’s analysis on how nice and pretty she looked in her new dress… thus the mother’s retort later when hearing of her daughter’s most recent experience at school.
Watch the video 1940s Music …spot the feed sack dresses… and see the slideshow Feed Sack Clothing.
Transition to cloth containers
By the time the war arrived, the once-burlap sacks, replacing expensive wood barrels, had been replaced by printed coarse fabrics and later, improved fabrics were created and printed with popular designs, favorites of the homemaker. Often neighbor families would swap feed sacks so they could complete a specific dress, shirt or household item like kitchen towels.
Variety of cloth containers
Chicken feed, cattle and horse feed all came in both 50 and 100 pound cloth bags, thus the term “feed sack dresses.” Several of these cloth fabrics were tough enough to sew together and also provide the families little boys with “new” outfits. Inside the farmhouse or city dwelling, kitchen supplies, mostly flour, were packaged in cloth bags that had the capability to endure hundreds of washings. Many people today still use cup towels, as they were called then, that their grandmothers and great-grandmothers made during that period.
View the slideshow Feed Sack Clothing and watch the video 1940s Music…spot the feed sack dresses.
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