Grand Prairie Quilt Society hears program on history of flour sacks


The Grand Prairie Quilt Society met recently at the Stuttgart Public Library with nine members present.

President Glenda Landreth opened the meeting with the thought for the day …”May Your Bobbins Always be Full.”

The July minutes and treasurer’s report were given and approved. Under old business, members delivered more than 50 pillowcases for Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Several members attended the Hot Springs Quilt Show. According to their comments, everyone had a great time, saw many wonderful and unique quilts, had fun shopping at the many vendors, and gained lots of new ideas and had a great lunch at the show.

Plans were made for a field trip to the Plantation Agriculture Museum at Scott on Oct. 9 for a quilt program. A stop for lunch at Charlotte’s at Keo will precede the program. Tentative plans call for the members to meet at the library as usual at 9:30 a.m. and then to carpool to Charlotte’s at 10. After lunch, the group will go to the museum for the program. There they will get to see some of the antique quilts in the museum’s collection. After a tour of the museum, they will go across the highway to the Plantation Settlement for a tour of its collection of plantation era buildings.

Landreth gave August’s program on Feed/seed/flour sacks. She read a poem by Colleen B. Hubert called “The Flour Sack.” She also said that making quilts and clothing using feed sacks brings to mind the poverty of the Great Depression. But feedsacks were used for sewing well before the depression and for several years after, even to well after World War II. Between 1840 and 1890 cotton sacks gradually replaced barrels as food containers. With the advent of the drop in cotton prices in the late 1920’s, even more companies began using cotton sacking as packaging replacing the barrel. At first these bags were plain unbleached cotton with product brands printed on them. In spite of the housewives efforts, all of the brand label didn’t always get removed and sometimes it didn’t seem worth the bother especially for making undergarments. As a result there are some amusing stories regarding feedsack underwear.

Around 1925 feed sacks began to be sold in colorful prints for making clothing. By the late 1930’s there was heated competition to produce the most attractive prints. Artists were hired to design these prints. This turned out to be a great marketing ploy as women picked out flour, sugar, beans, rice, cornmeal and even the feed and fertilizer for the family farm based on which fabrics they desired. A wife or daughter might make a fellow move several 50 pound sacks of flour from a 6 foot high stack just so she could get the matching fabric she wanted.

By the 1950’s paper bags cost much less than cotton sacks and cotton sacks gradually were replaced with paper and plastic. Landreth said that on e-bay and elsewhere, cotton sacks and fabric from sacks are bringing top prices as collector’s items today. She also showed a collection of cotton sack fabrics. Several members contributed their memories of sewing with feed/flour sacks or their mother’s or grandmother’s memories.

Marsha Heien read the poem “Flour Sack Underwear” by Ruth Gettle.

During the Show-and-Share segments:

The group saw pieced table top hotpad and pot holders and also a Twist and Turn table runner and placemats; a beach bag made from a beach towel; and several pillowcase dresses.

The next meeting will be Sept. 11 at the Stuttgart Public Library.