Feed Sack Fashion: Background information when reading Dust Bowl Girls

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Dust Bowl Girls

The Inspiring Story of the Team That Barnstormed Its Way to Basketball Glory

by Lydia Reeder

Dust Bowl Girls by Lydia Reeder X
Dust Bowl Girls by Lydia Reeder
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2017, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Dec 2017, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez
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About this Book

Feed Sack Fashion

This article relates to Dust Bowl Girls

Print Review

Women Wearing Feed Sack DressesIn Dust Bowl Girls, Lydia Reeder notes that many, if not all, of the young women who lived on their families' Oklahoma farms wore dresses made from flour or feed sacks. At the time, before the ready availability of store bought or bakery products, farm women bought their flour in sacks of 25-100 pounds. vintage fabricsFeed came in hundred-pound sacks. These sacks were commonly made of cotton. So when funds for clothing became tight, thrifty and inventive homemakers used everything at hand, including the fabric left empty after the flour or feed had been used up. They began cutting the sacks into patterns for clothing, including dresses.

Flour Employee with SacksAfter the manufacturers learned of this creative recycling of their sack, they began including instructions for removing the dyed-in label so that the fabric could more easily be re-used. However, another practice quickly took hold. Manufacturers saw an opportunity to help those thrifty homemakers by printing the sacks with brightly colored patterns, such as flowers and geometric shapes. This not only helped the domestic seamstress – if one manufacturer could create prettier sacks than its competitor, the homemaker might purchase their flour over the other.

Instructions for Feed Sack DressesThe practice continued throughout World War II – when cotton was rationed – and beyond, when national sewing contests offered opportunities for home seamstresses to show off their skills.

Images of women in feed sack dresses, Flour employee with sacks, and instructions for removing the label. Vintage fabric samples from redpepperquilts.com

Article by Donna Chavez

This "beyond the book article" relates to Dust Bowl Girls. It originally ran in April 2017 and has been updated for the December 2017 paperback edition.

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