Most of us have worn or knows someone that has worn underwear, bloomers, “panty waists” made out of flour and feed sacks. And most of all they were sewn by the loving hands of your mother or grandma.
Flour sacks were full of milled flour with a logo of the feed mill or a print in many colors. Grandmas and moms made bread each week for the family and the wonderful pies, cakes and cookies with flour that came from the flour sacks. When that sack was empty, the string that held it together was carefully undone and rewound on the ball of string that grandpa kept in a draw. Grandma washed the sack on wash day – Monday. It was hung on the clothes line with the rest of the clothes, then ironed, folded and put on the little stack of flour-feed sacks that she had stacked in her closet next to her treadle Singer Sewing Machine.
Feed sacks held the cracked corn or wheat that grandpa fed the chickens. When it was empty the same thing applied. Grandpa brought it into grandma like it was a treasure he had just found. It was!! Grandma already had ideas on how to cut, sew and fashion it into a dress, bloomers or “drawers” for the boys. Not one piece of that sack was wasted as the rest of the material was made into quilts. Bob said he slept under feed sack sheets.
When they went to town to sell the eggs and chickens once a week, Grandma would look over all the prints and designs in the feed store, and select the one that she wanted. I still see grandpa picking that full feed sack up, throw it on his shoulder and pack it out to the old black car.
I was the recipient of flour-feed sack dresses, blouses, bloomers, aprons, doll clothes and quilts. I loved than all and SO wish I had them today! Today I own my share of imitation flour-feed sack prints to make quilts and aprons. The tradition has been passed on down and now my daughter Susan, collects reproduction prints.
I hope you enjoy this poem sent to me by my relative, Bobby Ann who lives in Riverton, Wyoming.
FLOUR SACK UNDERWEAR
When I was a maiden so fair
Mama made our underwear
With little tots and Papa’s poor pay
How could she buy lingerie?
Monogram’s and fancy stitches
Were not on our flour sack breeches.
Pantywaists that stood the test
With GOLD MEDAL on the chest
Little pants the best of all
With a scene I still recall
Harvesters were gleaning wheat
Right across the little seat.
Tougher than a grizzle bear
Was our flour sack underwear
Plain of fancy, three feet wide,
Stronger than a hippo’s hide
Throughout the years,
Each Jill and Jack
Wore this sturdy garb of a sack.
“Waste not – want not” was soon learned.
And “A penny saved is a penny earned”
Bedspreads, curtains, tea towels, too
Table clothes, to name a few
But best, beyond compare
Was our flour sack underwear.