The answer to that question is as various as the pictures on this website. Herewith, a brief history of the feed sack:
Farmers have been using cloth bags for grain, seed, and feed ever since cloth was available. In the early days, homespun linen was hand-sewn into bags for the grain that was kept for use in the home, and for next year’s planting. The sacks were considered valuable personal property and were usually stitched or stenciled with names or initials to identify the owner.
After the invention of the sewing machine in the mid 19th century, feed sacks became a commercially viable product and began to be mass-produced by the late 1800s. As the economy shifted from a rural, agrarian economy to a more urban, industrialized one, more and more of these sacks were used to ship and store grain, feed, and flour products. At first, the users would bring back the emptied sack to their feed supplier to be refilled, but it was easier for the miller to prefill the sacks, so the empty sacks found other uses in the home like towels, linens, or clothing.
Sometime in the 1920s, an enterprising manufacturer of cloth bags hit upon an interesting idea – maybe he could sell more sacks if they were decorated to be more desirable for the farmer’s wife. And the era of the printed feed sack began. No longer just beige muslin, with advertising for the feed company, now sacks began to appear in a wide variety of popular colors and prints. And paper labels were applied, like the one pictured above, so that the fabric could be reused without the advertising.
Through the shortages of money during the great depression, and of cloth during the war years, feed sack filled the needs of thousands of women for the fabric to create the things they could not otherwise buy. Recycling at its best, with farmers’ wives fighting over the prettiest patterns. Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever, and at the end of the 1950s, increasing costs led manufacturers to begin to use heavy paper and other materials for feeds, and the cloth bag fell out of use. The ones found today are almost all remnants of these 3 1/2 decades of production, carefully washed, folded, and stored away for use by thrifty farmwives.
|Feedsacks, feedbags, feed sacks, feed bags, grain sacks, grain bags – it doesn’t matter what you call them – and there were similar sacks for sugar, flour and meal and other milled products as well… A standard 100-lb. feed sack averages about 37×43 inches when unstitched and laid flat – there were, of course, variations in size and shape, but the many sacks presented on this site are of that approximate size. Below find a directory to the website:|