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Fabulous Feedsacks

The 20th Centuries answer to fashionable up-cycling.

The Print Pattern Archive holds an extensive collection of American 20th century feed sack fabric, a big hit with quilters and lovers of vintage design. The naïve painterly styles are the ultimate in the print industry. Glorious designs featuring rural scenes, zingy florals and cute, novelty sketches. They make great inspiration for children and homeware.



What is feed sack fabric?

Feed sack fabric is – well, what it says on the tin: fabrics that were used to transport goods like flour, sugar and animal feed in the early 20th century. In rural communities, especially in the United States, these materials were not to be wasted.

Feed sack fabric saw a rise in popularity in the late 1800’s. The invention of cheaper, pattered cotton created a boom in the women’s fashion market but left mothers in rural areas with little to no supply of cheap, available fabric for basic needs.





The feed sack Industry saw a sales opportunity to provide women with current prints and patterns, while distributing produce to farmers. Creating popular prints for farmer’s wives would mean a higher manufacturing sale for the feed sack company.

The fabrics of these sacks were often reinvented as new clothes, quilts and materials for the home. Following this cultural phenomenon, the producers of these sacks began incorporating motifs of the era into the design of their fabrics.




How can you tell if a fabric is a feed sack?

Authentic feed sack fabrics from the 20th century would have been made of rough cotton or burlap. This was owing to their original intention to function as protection for the transported goods they were originally made for.

For the feed sack fabric fanatics of today, focus is placed much more on the vintage designs that were typical for the aesthetics of feed sack quilts and clothing. Popular designs included overlapping floral patterns as well as mid-century textures that would have represented the cultural heritage of the average family.



What can I make with feed sack fabric?

As international trade and technology have developed, feed sack fabric is obviously no longer used for transporting raw goods. So, these materials and their designs no longer naturally find their way into the hands of craftspeople around the world as they once did. Still, much inspiration can be taken from the innovators of old, who used their quirky designs to create beautiful things from the most everyday of materials.




Get in touch for bespoke commissions or to view a collection: cheryl@printpatternarchive.com

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