Use it Up, Wear It out, Make it due, Or due without
-Depression Era Saying
Around the Great Depression, frugal farm folks realized they had cloth a-plenty in the form of the sacks animal feed and flour came in. At a time when thriftiness was considered a very high virtue, this trove of found cloth was considered a godsend and women began using the material to make everything from dresses to curtains, underwear and quilts.
The feed manufactures soon got wise and began making the fabric in fashionable prints and colors, vying for the business of ladies looking to spice up their wardrobe and home. Taking a page from Aunt Mary’s personal friend, Edward Bernays, businesses held feed sack dress competitions and dress pattern makers sold patterns especially designed for the sacks.
Many women forged enterprising side businesses collecting and selling the sacks to people looking for a certain print.
While it is obvious the feed and flour manufacturers used the prints as a clever marketing device, I also choose to believe it was also a small kindness to brighten the lives of folks struggling during a dark time.
Feed sack frocks remained popular through World War II when cloth was in short supply.
Check out this incredibly charming ad from the era.