Saturday, April 17, 2010

These Frugal Times

"My mamma made all these things from Dailey's Needlework $axx"  Imagine!  Before Etsy, before on-line shopping, before shopping malls, America was once before in a time of great frugality.  The Great Depression of the 1930's began an intense level of frugality that lasted through to the beginning of the second World War.  People made their own clothing and other practical items not as a trend or because they were sucked-in by that great pattern at Jo-Anne Fabrics but because if they did not make something themselves they would not be able to have that "something."
People purchased items like feed, for their animals, and, flour, for their baking in bulk cloth bags.  The manufacturers of these bags would print them with wonderful., colorful designs to advertise.  At some point, the manufacturers became wise to the fact that these cloth bags were being re-used by frugal housewives and started to cater to the re-use.  Some goods were sold in colorful, permanently-printed fabrics that women would use to make dresses for themselves and their children.  Other goods were packed inside bags printed with sewing and needlework patterns designed for the pattern markings to wash out easily once the pieces were cut and/or embroidered.  Above is an example of a pattern for a bedjacket.
Sometimes colored patterns were printed as well, like this wonderful Santa designed to be stitched and stuffed into a Christmas doll for a child.
Of course the companies still printed their logos, along with all instructions onto the bags as well.  All the bags shown in this post are flour sacks.
I had been lucky enough to find a couple of these wonderful embroidered laundry bags before realizing that they were made from flour or feedsacks.  A laundry bag used up the entire sack, but, was a highly practical item, used daily, that was made more enjoyable when embroidered with a charming design such as the dog making off with freshly cleaned laundry above.
An example of instructions for embroidery on the "Needlework Sak" designed by Percy Kent Art Service.
Often the designs included a small graphic image of the finished product like this Humpty Dumpty Apron pattern above.
Designs included clothing, housewares, pillow cases, aprons, towels, dolls, and more!  Above is a pattern for a chair cover with two arm covers as well.
These patterns, along with the fabulous colorful prints are highly sought after by collectors.  I was lucky enough to find all of the above flour sacks, plus more, together at one location and soon to be offered at Carmen and Ginger.  If you wish to learn more about the history of these items, including viewing some tempting items for purchase, take a look at the following links:


  1. We loved this post so it was included in our 25 Top Blogs About Upcycling and Vintage Fashion:

    Do check it out and let us know your thoughts.
    All the best,


  2. Thanks so much for the kind words and the press! I also tried to send you a note through your site...

    Best regards,



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