Wednesday 26 August 2009

Sackcloth Themed Searches

This sugarsack dress is on a plantation worker in Puerto Rico . I absolutely love it. The find, in the Library of Congress, prompted me to get lost on an online search of sackcloth clothing, some results are here.

Having often found myself looking at the amazing array of 1930's and 40's prints available to buy on American textile sites, I was regularly frustrated at the size of the bits available, some of this is due to the US tradition of quilting but the size of a sack of grain is responsible for a lot of what's out there for sale.
After the bottom fell out of the cotton market due to the arrival of cheap man-made fabrics such as Rayon in the 1920's, many grain companies started using this newly cheap cotton for their feed sacks. They realised how popular this cotton was with women who were using the cloths in a Make Do and Mend spirit, re-using the sacks and making clothes and quilts.

By the late 1930s there was strong competition to produce the most attractive prints. Artists were hired as this turned out to be a great marketing ploy. Women picked out flour, sugar, beans, rice, cornmeal and the feed and fertilizer for the family farm based on which fabrics they desired.

These are some examples of the prints.