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August 1, 2016

Flour Sack Dresses, Diapers Made into Underwear and More

I stumbled on this story which I found fascinating. It is something I was not aware of - that parents during hard times made their children's clothes out of flour sacks. You can read the story at The Fascinating History of Flour Sack Dresses and see photos of some of the lovely dresses mothers made for their little girls.

This was something I never experienced. I was born after WW2, not during the Great Depression. We didn't have much money. We ate the cheapest cuts of meat possible - pigs' feet, pigs' tails, tripe, kidney, heart, liver, ox tails, and so on. My mother made underwear for my sister and I out of old diapers. When I went to High School (Grade 9) my mother made me two skirts out of old kitchen curtains. One skirt was pink and white gingham, the second was blue and white gingham.

The flour sack manufacturers were amazing to create such pretty patterns to make these children feel so much better about their clothing.


Anonymous said...

This was not unusual at all on farms and where chicken feed and other supplies came in colorfully patterned fabric sacks. My first sewing project at age six under the direction of my grandmother was a gathered skirt made from a feed sack. Probably not the most skillful job, but the lesson stuck and led to clothes, quilts, curtains, rugs, needlepoint, crocheting, knitting and eventually children's clothing years later.

Florence Duheme said...

I grew up on a farm in upstate New York. I am now in my mid-60s and retired. When I was a child our feed for the chickens came in similar fabric bags in really pretty flower prints. My mother made jumpers for me that I wore to elementary school. The material was the consistency of denim and nearly indestructible for a rambunctious, playful child. My parents lived through the Depression and WW II rationing so they were thrifty and nothing went to waste. Your article brought back many childhood memories. Thanks for your blog. I look forward to each issue and read it faithfully.

Jackie Corrigan said...

There's a lovely children's book called Flour Sack Flora by Metis writer Deborah L. Delaronde.

T said...

Husbands were often given instructions to buy a certain number of bags with the same print so there would be enough fabric for the dress or dresses.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading this post, as I didn't know about flour dresses in America. A wonderful idea, which must have helped a lot of families through hard times. My grandmother told me that in England, during the 2nd World War, that curtains were used for clothes and net curtains to make wedding dresses. Also, the curtain rings were often used instead of a wedding ring. My grandfather never gave up spreading his toast with dripping instead of butter - it made me feel sick to look at it! My mother-in-law said that during the war, she undid sweaters and cardigans and re-knitted them in different designs for the children!

Carol Kuse said...

Clothes made from flour sacks were a great help to anyone living in a smaller commercial area or even one with no commercial area. It was a great way to obtain fabric. Yes, the women would ask their husbands to get a certain number of a particular print. I was born in 1940 and wore flour sack clothes. In fact I have a quilt made my grandmother and mother for my wedding in 1959. One corner of the quilt has flour sack pieces that are still as nice as the day they made the quilt while several of the pieces made from "modern improved" fabrics are rotting away.

The use of flour sacks this way had nothing to do with need so much as location.