Monthly Archives: June 2014

HSF #11 – The Feedsack Dress

I’ve been having a lot of trouble trying to come up with something for the past few challenges. But I bought an awesome pattern that I was super anxious to try out.


So I’ve been looking for an excuse to make it for this challenge. I finally stumbled across the idea of using feedsack imitation fabric. I’ll be the first to admit that the term “feedsack dress” brings forth mental images of something along the lines of this.

Feed-Sack-dresses photo

The reality isn’t quite so unfashionable.


You may be asking yourself, what do feedsacks have to do with politics. The short answer is The Stock Market Crash that led to the Great Depression, which is all tied up in politics and what the government did do or wasn’t able to do to prevent the whole thing from happening.

Now, back in the day (the Great Depression day in case you were wondering) sacks for everything from flour to salt to animal feed were put into cloth sacks.

flour-sacsWhen the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl hit, wives started looking for frugal ways to save money for silly things like food. Women had been using feedsack fabric for things like hand towels and dishrags all along. At some point someone realized they had a source of fabric, that wasn’t exactly free, but it came with something they were already buying. And since they were cutting corners, like the clothing budget, there are really only so many dishrags one family needs when you’ve got kids growing out of their clothes and holes growing in your own. So women started using the fabric for clothing. Then the flour, salt, animal feed, etc. companies realized that women were using their sacks as fabric. So they began putting prints on their sacks, hoping to influence purchasing based on which print a woman liked better. I’ve also read the theory that it was also to persuade buyer loyalty until enough of the fabric was bought to make something…like a dress.

1940s-ration-fashion-the-feedsack-dressFor more information about feedsack fashion, there’s a great post on Appalachian History.

My next step was to find a pattern that was reminiscent of feedsack cloth. That was in my stash, because I’m trying to maintain my budget for summer traveling.

I did find some colors/patterns that are similar to a quilting cotton I originally purchased with the intention of making a nightgown or bathrobe. But who needs another nightgown? Not me! I’d rather have a summery cotton dress!

Feedsack fabric examples:

fabric fabric2 fabric3


The Challenge: The Politics of Fashion

Fabric: pink and aqua quilting cotton

Pattern: Marian Martin 9957

Year: I’ve found this pattern advertised in a 1939 newspaper, so that’s the year I’m going with.

Notions: pink thread, pink invisible zipper

How historically accurate is it? As accurate as possible without having real actual feedsack cloth available, except for the zipper which I needed so that I could get it to fit. 70%?

Hours to complete: …5 hours…8 hours…again with the not being able to keep track of the time.

First worn: Last week, to a visit to my grandmother. She enjoys seeing my finished projects.

Total cost: It’s been a while since I bought this fabric, but I’d say a total of about $20.

DSCN0353I did actually manage to finish the dress on time for the challenge. And the post was mostly finished as well. My ability to take pictures in a timely manner to add to the post is what tripped me up.


HSF #10 – The Rose Red Upholstery Skirt

I managed to almost make this challenge on time. Much closer at least.

I’ll confess that the art part of this challenge was difficult for me. I very much twisted this challenge to suit my needs. So I found a few paintings that more or less correspond to my project. To be quite honest, I’m ready to move on. To start on some fun summery dresses and things I can wear in my real life.

There’s the painting that I referenced in my last post. This and the following one are more or less is about the bodice and shirt.



rose red inspiration2


I used this picture to help me decide where to put the hem of the skirt.


rose red inspiration

Look at that red! It’s so close to my chosen fabric.

rose red inspiration4

Besides the super heavy (a.k.a. difficult) upholstery fabric I used, this was a pretty basic skirt. I followed the pattern pieces exactly, didn’t use interfacing, and used hooks instead of a zipper. The waistband proved unwieldy going through my sewing machine (the three layers of upholstery fabric almost didn’t fit under the presser foot) so I’ve definitely sewn straighter lines before. Otherwise it went together quickly and easily.

With only a week left of the school year, things have been busy. A school dance, field trips, project grading, a talent show, end of the year grades, and Florida Folk Festival all conspired to delay any sewing projects.

The finished project with everything put together.



From the front I look a bit thick waisted, mostly because I once again made something that laces so that it meets in the middle. And then lost weight.

The Challenge: Art

Fabric: dark red upholstery fabric, there’s most certainly unnatural fiber content

Pattern: Simplicity 3809

Year: 1500ish

Notions: size three hooks and eyes, red heavy duty thread

How historically accurate is it? The skirt follows the rest of this outfit, which means not very.

Hours to complete: About 5?

First worn: For pictures today, but I plan on wearing for real at the next Renaissance Faire.

Total cost: The fabric cost me about $40, the thread about $3, and the hooks came from the stash.

The Mama Africa Hippie Skirt

I haven’t had a chance post about this skirt yet. I made it last weekend for the best music festival in the South, the Florida Folk Festival. It’s full of hippies who like folk music, good folk music, and quirky food vendors. Every year I discover something wonderful. One year it was contra dancing. Another year it was the fabulous Jamaican lady who serves the best ginger beer I’ve ever tasted. Last year it was the fact that I actually do like folk music beside Simon and Garfunkel. This year I found several new bands to love (The Currys, Belle and the Band, and Laney Jones and the Lively Spirits) and a rice bowl with cranberries in it.

I didn’t really take any pictures of the actual festival, but I did manage to get my sister to snap a crappy cell phone picture of me in the skirt.


I found the fabric in a local opportunity store. And paid a whopping $1. Here’s a picture with the price tag as proof. I had just enough fabric to eke out a skirt. I had two tiny triangles left when I finished, they were maybe two inches at their widest.



I used this pattern, because honestly I love the gathers. Obviously I didn’t make the whole dress, just the skirt.