Monday, January 27, 2020

1930s Feed Sack Quilts

Almost 30 years ago, a guild friend named Kathleen handed me a grocery bag full of fabric circles. These were no ordinary fabric circles. They were authentic 1930s Feed Sacks! It appeared that an anonymous quilter had cut them out, destined to be yo-yos. She thought I would be interested in playing with them. Holy cow! What a true find.

This quilt uses a few of those circles, and they aren't yo-yos! It was HAND QUILTED! Still one of my favorites, for sure.

Authentic Feed Sacks for Baskets
I did make  a few yo-yos, but the circles were calling me to become something else.
A few of the hundreds of circles made into yo yos
I had just started working for Quilt Magazine and I was intrigued with Drunkard's Path blocks and quilts, but NOT by the traditional way to make them. This next quilt uses those feed sack circles and other solids. The outer pink print border is an authentic feed sack!

This quilt has 8" finished blocks and finishes to 30" x 39". I sell it in my Etsy store.

1930s Feed Sack Love Ring quilt
What's my "cheater's" method for making these tiny Drunkard's Path blocks? I transferred fusible webbing to the wrong side of those circles and then appliquéd them to a background square. Then I cut that into four quarters. Oh, yes I did!

Here is a Trip Around the World using that technique. The little units finish to 2". The quilt is about 35" x 37". I finished it in 2001 and I called it Rescued Yo Yos.

Feed Sack Trip Around the World
I used a decorative stitch and some colored, rayon thread to stitch the circles down. Here are some up close:

Close up of the 2" little units
Here are a few orphan blocks I discovered a few weeks ago. They told me they would like to be finished into something quilty. The first is a single Basket block.

Single Basket Block
And from the wrong side, so you can see the stitching. I used a machine blanket stitch for this.

Basket Block from the wrong side
Here is Snowy Windows, though I think it is upside down.
Snowy Windows
Traditional Around the World block
Around the World
Baby Bunting Variation
Baby Bunting Variation
More purple and yellow combination. Yes, there were some solid colors in with that bag of print yoyos. This next one is called King Tut's Crown. But it also the same arrangement for the pink Love Ring above.
King Tut's Crown
I bet you're wondering where these names came from. I have a book by Pepper Cory called "Happy Trails." The theme is Drunkard's Path blocks and quilts. This is one of my favorite quilt reference books. Published in 1991. The names on these blocks are historically accurate. It's just that my technique is a bit renegade.

Another Baby Bunting block called Love Ring. But I call it Chicken a la Ring. Those are little chicks on that yellow print!
Chicken a la Ring
 And the last orphan block is Puzzle Boxes.

Puzzle Boxes (yes, that plaid is from the 1930s)
I do have other quilts that incorporated these Feed Sack circles and I'll share them sometime. I just thought it would be fun to pull these out of the closet and show them the light of day!

6 comments:

  1. Hi Debby! What fabulous quilts you've shared today. I recall when I was a child that my mom had a stack of these feedsack bags. I have no idea what happened to them, darn it. As both of my parents lived through the Depression, I would consider my mom a hoarder. I suspect I tossed a whole bunch of stuff when I cleaned out her home that should have been saved. Thanks for sharing! ~smile~ Roseanne

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    1. I still have a large box of feed sacks from a friend. I need to pull it out and start sewing things with these lovely fabrics!

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  2. I have long been a lover of all feedsack fabrics. I've made several quilts and still have a stash of more fabric. You really made great use of those circles.

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  3. While I no longer have any of those circles left, I do have a box of assorted feedsacks that keep calling to me. They don't do any good sitting in a dark box, do they? I know exactly where it is and am going to pull it out today.

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  4. Awesome share today. Brought back so many memories of my grandmother making me dresses and quilts from feed sacks that she and washed and ironed from the sacks the cow feed and chicken feed came in! Great memories. I have a few of those left that were given me from family after my aunt passed. They are a treasure!

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  5. I'm so glad that you visitors KNOW what feed sacks are. They truly are a treasure, aren't they? The prints are so beautiful. And, of course, you can't beat that little yellow and white chicken print!

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