Sewing With Feed Sacks

Museum hours: Tuesday - Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Baton Rouge
"Our Quilted Past: An exhibit of Alabama Feedsack Quilts and the cotton bag industry of the mid-20th century" features 19 quilts made between 1930 and 1950 by Leola Heard and Elizabeth Heard Bean in Randolph County, Alabama.  The quilts are hand-pieced and hand or machine quilted, using fabric from cotton flour sacks and feed sacks."

    During our last SAGA meeting, we learned about this exhibit at the Old Louisiana State Capitol, but since they are closed on Mondays we weren't able to visit last time we were in Baton Rouge. We had a full day Saturday, but made time to stop by and see Our Quilted Past before it moved on. The display was shared by a group of quilters from Alabama. 

"Many a poultryman has overstocked mash to please his wife. 'Give me that one in pink,' says she, pointing to a mountain of 100-pound bags. At no extra cost she gets fine-quality, ready-to-sew cotton prints." 

     My Dad recently shared with us about picking out feed sacks when he was little, knowing it was his turn to have something made from it. He said that when it was his turn, he would look through all of the feed sacks when his family went to purchase animal feed. He told us about making covered buttons with his Grandma who was a seamstress. 

     My mom shared a wonderful memory of her own childhood with us. Her Grandma and other ladies would come to their house and all sit around the quilt frame, and my mom and the other children would play underneath it as the ladies sewed. She said with all of the animals on the farm (dairy cows and 7000 chickens), they bought a lot of feed sacks. 

bow tie quilt on frame

     Granny shared the bow tie pattern for a quilt like this with my daughter. 

quilt from feed sacks

My mom shared that these coarser bags were good for dish cloths. 

"They used what they had, so quilts for their families were made from cotton sacks and were created for function. Their creative designs were dictated by the limitations of fabric."

The "Quilt of Gee Whiz" looked well loved. 

     Copies of old articles were framed around the room sharing the history about feed sack cloth. One made clear just how difficult the words could be to remove from the fabric as evidenced below on the back of a quilt. 

     This is not a sponsored post. We enjoyed this, and I think some of you may, too. If you are near Baton Rouge, this is the last week for this exhibit. I wrote this while snuggled under my own feedsack quilt.


  1. I LOVE feed cloth! I'm also obsessed with that time period. I think I have a quilt in our garage that my granma made out of feed sacks...it is in rough condition but I want to take some of the best pieces of it and frame them. When my daughter was a toddler I made pillowcase dresses out of feedsacks for her and to sell on Ebay. ( still have a big box of feed sack cloth that I have bought off of Ebay) I love it! Thanks for sharing.

    1. My girls and I saw some for sale last fall, but they were very expensive. I didn't think about checking ebay.

  2. Wow, those look gorgeous! Just looking at your photos makes me wish I was there to touch and admire those quilts!

    1. They were gorgeous. I expected much more plain designs in the bags. The one that surprised me most was a bright paisley print.

  3. My mother can remember shopping with her mother and trying to pick out the prettiest patterns of feedsacks with enough sacks available to make a dress.

    1. I wondered how many it would take, a bit different from how we measure fabric by the yard now.


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