Flour-sack Dresses

The height of DIY, pluckiness, sheer will, and creativity in America just may have been during the Great Depression. Case in point: flour-sack dresses.

photo, oldphotoarchive.com

No, don’t picture a “sad sack,” readers. These dresses had style!

Take a look at these two sisters, plus their matching dollies.

photo, oldphotoarchive.com

The flour companies were so impressed and inspired by the women making do with what they had, they began upgrading the designs of their sacks. Not just plain beige, oh no, they came up with all sorts of prints and patterns that would rival any aisle at today’s JoAnn Fabrics.

Scottie Dog lover? Got you covered, ma’am.

photo, oldphotoarchive.com

Some manufactures even began printing patterns for craft projects on their fabric. Kind of like how today’s cereal boxes have little cut-out projects for your kids to take some scissors to after they’ve gotten to the bottom of their breakfast favorites.

“Mommy and Me” dresses were popular, too, and can’t you just see yourself as a little girl heading out shopping, and spying a beautiful new play dress in that bag of whole wheat?

photo, oldphotoarchive.com

Times may have been tough and lean in the 1930s, but the ladies weren’t about to give up style and femininity.

No, sir.

Or more to the point, no, ma’am.

Leave a comment 9 Comments

  1. Michele Bilka says:

    I never knew flour sacks came in such pretty fabrics! Heck Yea I would’ve made a flour sack dress & a matching hair bow!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. BB king says:

    And they also made quilts with the flour sacks! I have 2 dear quilts lovingly made by some women with her flour sacks. Talk about creativity.

  3. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I would love to see an archive of original flour sack prints. I am pretty sure that I have quilt stars that my mom and grandmother pieced together that have flour sack cloth. But I am not 100% sure. These original fabrics are increasingly difficult to find. My Mom told me that she used to have dresses made from flour sack cloth all the time that my Grandmother sewed. She was born in 1914 and spent her teen years on a farm. Money was quite tight as they moved to the Farm in the spring of 1929 in time for the big Crash and ensuing Depression.

    When I visited the Gold Medal Flour museum a couple of years ago, I was hoping to see examples of feed sack prints, but there were none there. I would bet they had them but for some reason have not collected the prints and put them into postcards or gift items in their Gift Shop.

    That Scottie dog print is just adorable. I wonder if there was a team of women who drew the templates for the prints and selected the colors way back then?

  4. CJ Armstrong says:

    My mom was one of those “artists” who made dresses for us from flour sacks. I don’t recall my two older sisters wearing them, but I do remember my younger sister and I wore lots of them. I also don’t recall any of the particular prints, except lots of small flowers, but I do remember I had one made from a solid soft green color.

    These days I’ve made LOTS of aprons from vintage feed sacks and the prints are WONDERFUL!!!
    CJ

  5. I am an apron maker and wish I could get my hands on some of the old flour sacks.

  6. Molly Welsh says:

    Well, I knew them for quilting, but did not know they made dresses. Makes perfect sense, though.

    I love, love, love the reproduction fabrics that on can get now. I make lots of quilts from them.

    And I even have fabric from a dress that my great-grandmother made. I didn’t even think about the fact that it was made from flour sacks. Just goes to show that I don’t think sometimes, LOL.

  7. My mom told me she wore many feed sack print dresses as a child.

  8. Krista says:

    This is very creative. I love how women are capable of repurposing so many different things and always looking fabulous while they do it! I agree with Winnie. I would love to see all the different flour sack prints that were used and even some dresses made from them.

  9. Diana Shelton says:

    The photo archive reminds me of when my oldest daughter and younger twin daughters were in a friends wedding, I made the sack dresses and a matching sack dress for their dolls to carry in one hand and hand bells in the other down the aisle. Not your traditional wedding scene, but heard a lot of oohs and aahs from the audience. Karen Budnick my mom told me she wore feed sack print dresses as a child also, we have a photo but its in black and white.

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