Child’s Flour Sack Dress
I got this little dress at an antique shop about 15 years ago, and I’ve always loved it for the creative use of flour sacks. The seamstress didn’t have as much of the white floral fabric as she did of the red, so she stretched it by using plain white cloth for the fronts of the sleeve ruffles.
It’s all machine sewn, except for the hem, which is about 4 inches deep, and hemmed with a running stitch.
It has a little area of wear under one arm, so it was obviously worn a lot. It looks like such a comfortable style. I always wonder about the little girl that wore it – what did she think of her two-color dress? Did she like it? Was she ashamed that her dress was different from everybody else’s? I wonder about the seamstress – did she think of a design that would have spaced the colors out more evenly, but then think, “No, too much trouble,” or was this the only design she could come up with? Or did the little girl choose?
It seems to me that the clothes you can’t let go of are the ones you love, so I think the little girl loved this dress and couldn’t bear to part with it, even after she grew up.
adorable! Love the idea. Wish people now days were so resourceful.
And I wish they understood all the work that goes into their clothing and other textiles! 🙂
How beautiful! My mom said that when we were babies (late 60’s, early 70’s) her mother was amazed at how wonderful and soft the cloth diapers were. My grandmother had to use the old flour sacks as diapers on her babies. They worked so hard and made such sacrifices…but I’m not sure that we are actually better off than they were.
I love this dress because of the way it shows how creativity can be found everywhere!
What a treasure… I don’t know about the original owner, but as a little girl, I would have loved my ‘coming’ and ‘going’ dress…
I love to think about the original owners of the everyday clothes I have collected over the years – they would be so happy to know something of theirs still exists and touches us.
i grew up in the 40’s wearing flour sack clothes,even underwear usually made of muslin, some of them were pretty cute and NOTHING was wasted. I have an old flour sack ,sometime I hold it in my arms,close my eyes and smell it and i go back to those days, my aunts and my motherwaited for the sears catalog and would look thru it ,then measure each child and make the dress in the catalog, i am so blessed to have grown up in that time and i love the memory of my flour sack clothes.
Glad to bring back a happy memory! I would love to have the sewing skills your mother and aunts did!
I wore feed sack skirts and dresses in the 40’s. we loved the prints and they starched and ironed real well. The skirts were simple broom stick style gathered at the waist & full skirted because we wore crinolines under them. Memories.
I have one of my mother’s broomstick style skirts AND even the crinoline, although it’s not from feed sack material. I will post it soon.
I was so happy to see this ! 🙂 I have a few items from the depression time. My favorite is a little girls dress… Thanks for sharing.
I’m so glad things survived from that time. Glad you enjoyed seeing this one!
I remember my Grandma making us feed sack dresses when we were little on her old treadle machine.
I seen quilts made from feed sacks. And heard stories how a womsn would tell her husband what color feed sacks she needed. When he would go buy feed for the animals. I wish they would still make cloth feed sacks now adays. I wouls love to have some of the old feed sacks .I think my mom wore feed sack dresses.I’ll have to ask her,
The feed I buy my animals comes in a sort of crunchy plastic – glad I don’t have to make my clothes out of that! But cloth feed sacks would be nice.
I wore feed sack dresses in the 40’s. My mother was an excellent seamstress and she’s sew lace,(used) on the pockets, sleeves and collars. We loved our homemade feed sack dresses.
I have lots of lace crocheted by my great-grandmother and great-aunts, but to my knowledge they never put it on dresses, just pillowcases. What a cute way to add a special touch to your dresses!
That is a very sweet, and simple dress. just adorable and comfy looking. I can picture the little girl who wore that. About 6-8 yrs old with a stacked bob that was so popular in the 20’s-30’s.
I can see that too! I will have to look through my collection of old photos and see if I can find one where a little girl is wearing a flour sack dress.
I was born in 1960. My mom would go to the 2nd hand store and buy womans dresses and take them apart and make my dresses out of the big circle tail….she bought lace at the 5 and dime / 10 yards for a dime…I dont remember the dresses but I have pics with me in them….and I remember a little girl who diddnt have pretty dresses and I asked my mom if I could give her some of mine….I had so many….and we did….I love the memories…of my mom and all the pretty dresses she made…..
So generous of you! What a sweet story!
I remember how sad I always was when I outgrew one of my favorites… At least we have the photos to remind us!
I love the way that an appreciation of beauty and creativity pour forth even in ‘difficult circumstances”.
Was it harder for them? My mother once said, “everyone lived like that.” She might have worn a dress like that one.
I think every era has its difficult issues – it’s good we have creativity to comfort and inspire us as we go through them!
I was born in the 40’s and grew up thinking every kid’s play clothes were made from feed sacks. Weren’t they?
Maybe that’s why I haven’t seen too many for sale out there – they were handed down and played in! 🙂
Late 1930’s to 1940
Living on a farm in TX, our flour was bought in these country-print flour sacks. My mother would empty the flour into a metal bin, wash the material and make her dresses and mine. She sewed on a petal-sewing machine.
When we could no longer wear the dresses, she would cut the material into various sizes and shapes to make the covers of our quilts. I still have one of those quiltes, that my Mother made from our dresses. The quilt is old and ragged, but it a treasure to me.
Those quilts are the greatest treasures – they hold so many memories! I have “rescued” some from flea markets and antique shops, but I don’t have any family quilts – it’s great you still have yours!
My mom made my summer shorts and tops out of feed sacks. we lived in the city but relatives living in the country saved feed sacks for mom.She also saved buttons from worn out clothes and zippers as well, to reuse and lace from worn out blouses was carefully cut from them and reused. And the salvageable material from the worn out item was then turned into strips of material and used to make rag rugs or aprons or quilts.
It’s amazing how much they got done, without any labor-saving devices either. I love the idea of a stripe-y apron!
I was born in the 40’s also and almost all of my dresses were made from feedsack material as we lived on a farm. I loved those dresses and when I outgrew them, my mother made 5 grandmother flower garden quilts using all the materials from the clothes she made for my 2 sisters, my 2 brothers and myself. I even have a crazy quilt made by my mother & grandmother in 1928-29 from all kinds of material & beautiful embroidery as my mother was waiting for the birth of her first child. Nothing was wasted. They knew how to sew also!!
This really makes me realize how much time I waste everyday! I would feel pretty proud of myself if I made ONE grandmother’s flower garden quilt, let alone five! And then all the other projects on top of that – Inspiring!
I have a slip and some dresses that were made for me as a baby – my mom kept them and I still hold on to them.
Me too! I admire all the work that went into something that would only be used a short time.
my dear lady friend gave me a QUILT TOPPER MADE OF 287 DIFFERENT RECTANGLES that were from feed sacks…only four patterns repeat themself. i finished the quilt for her,amazing they could keep track of what they had or didnt have yet….a true art of knowledge….
That was an amazing undertaking for you! You might already know about this blog – http://timquilts.wordpress.com/ -but if you haven’t seen it yet, you are in for a treat!
My mama raised 4 girls. When she would buy flour, one of us would always put dibbs on the bag. Everything we wore was made by Mama until I was in high school. Many of those clothes were made using the flour sacks.
I love that – “Dibs on the bag!” I had enough trouble getting my way with one sister – it would take a lot of strategizing to get your way with three others!
I have two quilts made by my grandmother (cir. early 20’s) made completely from seed sacks. One has the inprint of Abraham Lincoln, another of a rooster. Even in the 50’s my father would buy the seed in cloth bags and when emptied, my mother would bleach them till the printing came off. Then she would sew two or three together into a circular shape. Hemming the sides with a french seam. Growing up in the 20’s in Canada then moving to Vermont when she was 3, she saved everything or so it seemed. She put an old shade roller on the basement door, slide on one of her circular seed sack towels and that’s what we had to use for wiping our hands. When company would drive in, first thing she did was rush to that door and give the towel a half spin, hence a clean towel for company. Apparently when my grandmother bleached her seed sacks for her quilt, not all the printing came out, so Abraham Lincoln picture still remains in this priceless quilt I was given by mymother.
I love reading all the memories that this little dress has evoked! If I was a novelist, I would find ways to work them into a book!
This is simply a wonderful look back at history. I love this dress because you can see the love that was sewn into it. This was a rough period for families and you made do with what you had, and if a feed sack was handy, well they made use of it. God bless the woman who made this and I am sure that the child was wearing it proudly. Not to many rich people to pick on her back then as they are now.
Many people who have commented on this dress have happy memories of feed sack clothing, and I have been so happy to read them! On the other hand, one of the reasons my grandmother quit school in 8th grade was that some of the girls made fun of her flour sack underwear. I wish I had gotten more information from her when she was still alive.
But I am glad this little dress survived to remind us all of those times and of making use of everything!
One of my french aunts always commented how rough her underwear was when she was little. One of eight children, moving to the states from Canada in the 20’s, her mother made all her childrens’ clothes from feed and seed sacks. If I knew how to post a picture I would showing the whole family in almost identical clothes made by their mother-my grandmother.
I would love to see it! I don’t know how to post a picture in a comment either! Maybe someone else out there knows how to? I will look through the tutorials too to see if I can find out, so stay tuned!
Hi, I’m writing an art history graduate research paper on feedbag and flour sac dresses, and am wondering if anyone knows if they were made and used in Canada as well as in the United-States? Would anyone be interested in sharing information that I can quote? I am studying at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.
If you look above to two comments by Jeanette Cyr, she references her family coming from Canada to the US and using flour sacks. Also, you can try this website http://www.cah.utexas.edu/collections/quilt_history.php, part of the University of Texas. There is a contact name at the bottom of that page. I was at an exhibit they had of all flour sack items, and I wrote about it here https://textileranger.com/2012/03/02/texas-quilt-museum/. Hope this helps!
If there is any connection, my mother was born in St. Isadore de Prescott. When I moved my mother to a care home I found alot of old important documents such as her naturalization papers, marriage certificate , baptism papers. Written in French, I’ve tried to read what I could. I created a notebook with things in chronological order as much as possible. Her mothers citizenship papers along with pictures of her family. Wish I could send one especially of her and 5 sisters and two brothers dressed in clothes made from the seed bags. Her last name was Laframboise which translates to ‘the berries’. She was 96 when she died in 2011.
Thank you so much, Jeannette! Sorry I spelled your name wrong in the comment. I hope this helps Akycha. Sounds like an interesting project.
What a special find, it’s really lovely. Like you I wonder who wore it and the woman who made it……..
Isn’t it amazing how an object can communicate across the years?
I stopped by your blog – I love how you place tiny treasures on interesting backgrounds before photographing them. I wouldn’t be surprised if that idea surfaces here…. 🙂
It is so great to read all these comments! I am currently hand quilting a vintage feedsack quilt for my grandma (you can see the progress on my blog) who will be turning 90 in a few months. I loved learning about feed (flour) sacks. I am hoping she will have good memories of it!
Last year I saw a great exhibit on feed sack textiles in the collection of the University of Texas – it was only for two weeks at the Winedale Historic Park. They allowed photography, but I figured that all the images would be online, so I didn’t take too many pictures. But none of it is online! If you’re interested, the few pictures I did take are here.
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Hi, I’m doing the layout on an upcoming book of remembrances, first or second hand, of the US Great Depression, and need some filler photos. One of the stories recounts a lady’s rememberance of panties made of flour sacks. I’ve been unable to find a photo of flour sack panties, but I did come across your photo of the lovely child’s dress. May I have permission to use the photo within the book, with credits to textileranger.com?
The book will be published by Patriot Supply Store, Inc.
Thanks for your time, either way,
Thanks for asking! I am fine with you using it, and I have emailed you too, because I would like to take some better photos of it for you first! 🙂
Have a group of photos I’d like to send you. Lost my contact address I think. Several depression photos as well as a pic of the flour bags. All are interesting and thought you’d like to see them. Can’t save just one. Please contact me via email.