Sunday, July 23, 2017

Chicken Feed (Sack) Dresses

Slate has a post on a 2009 scholarly article about the use of chicken feed sacks to make clothing back in the day, my day as it happens.  (It's even a thing on Etsy.)

I remember our getting feed in 100 pound bags.  Usually the bags were burlap and were returned back to GLF (the co-op we patronized and my dad was a board member of) for re-use.  But in my earliest memories (1945 or so) there are some cloth bags with patterns.  My sister remembered mom sewing her dresses from them.  The article says such clothes were a sign of poverty, and they certainly were to my sister.

But the times were such that people did re-use things.  I remember scavenging old nails from boards and trying to straighten them so they could be used again.  Mom had a rag bag where the unwearable old clothes went, someday to be pulled from the bag and cut into pieces, possibly for use in a rag rug, or in a quilt.  The innards of the quilt would be another example of re-use: milk strainer flannels. Much to my surprise, a similar thing is still available--description says "gauze" where my memory is of flannel squares.  When pouring a pail of milk into the milk can, you used a large metal funnel with a filter square at the bottom, the filter intended to filter out foreign materials (i.e., manure and bedding) which could have gotten into the milk pail.  (It's not only sausage-making that the layperson wants to remain ignorant of. :-)  Mom would wash the filters, which by regulation could only be used once, and use them for various purposes.  Stitched together they'd be a towel for drying dishes; stacked four or five thick, they'd become the basis for a quilt.

While I think I've adapted pretty well to changes in our culture over the last 70 years, except for pop music, the change in attitude towards material things still bothers me.  What I mean is the way people, perhaps mostly kids, will leave pieces of clothing out--presumably they've lost track of their shoe(s), or socks, or shirt and don't care to spend the time to search them out and retrieve them, and their parents are willing to buy new.  It bothers.

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