Category Archives: dress

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.


The Great Crochet Project or my excuse for being behind

My project for the Under It All Challenge has been put a bit on the back burner, even though it’s late before I even started. I’ve got plans to make a pair of open crotch drawers and another petticoat. First everything was put off until last minute sewing for Olustee could be finished up (which was only slightly successful). Then last week I was under a school-based time crunch in the form of making sure grades were updated for Progress Reports. And frankly I’m feeling a bit burned out and harried with the ever looming, all powerful FCAT (Florida’s all encompassing standardized test) rapidly approaching. It’s only five weeks away. So instead of sewing, my spare time has been spent working on The Great Crochet Project. Something that I can do on the couch while watching Doctor Who episodes and eating Girl Scout cookies with my mom.

I’m also trying to put the finishing touches on a dress I’m remaking for my sister in time for another reenactment next weekend. We’ll see how that goes.

But I am resolved to get either the drawers or a petticoat done by Wednesday.

In the meantime, here are some shots of my completed Wine Dress and Muff, along with the Striped Berry Hat.


And the pictures below show me modelling a giant circle crocheted shawl that took me the better part of a year to finish. It was totally worth the effort, it’s very warm and uses a pineapple motif that I fell in love with.



Belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas and that the coming year is even better.

My younger sister, a friend/fellow teacher, and I decided to spend our New Year’s Eve at a (to quote the promotional material) “Gatsby Themed Event, where costumes are encouraged”. Seeing as how I normally watch New Year’s celebrations on TV with my mom, I was very excited. Mostly because I already had a flapper outfit all ready to go. A high school friend had a 1920’s themed bachelorette party in November, for which I hacked a flapper dress from a cast off graciously donated by my mother. Now normally I’d be a little self-conscious about the fudging I did as far as historical accuracy goes, but because neither the bachlorette party, nor the New Year’s party even pretend to expect anything but a nod to the 20’s, I feel pretty satisfied with the results.

Basically I took a plus size, black sheath dress made of a lovely acetate, rayon, and spandex blend, chopped material off at the side and back seams until I was happy with the way it fit me, and french seamed it. And for those curious, yes that was a mostly sincere lovely. Despite a lot of the negative things I read online about this blend, it was actually fairly easy to work with once I figured out I needed a stretch fabric needle to sew with. Then, because the dress was designed to hit above the ankle, I cut about six inches off the bottom, and turned the hem once to to sew. Because apparently this lovely fabric does fray that badly (or so I’ve been led to believe). I originally wanted to sew feathers around the skirt to create a dropped waist look, but between my cat’s love for eating feathers and the fact I couldn’t find any at my local craft store, I nixed that idea. Instead I decided on the fringe look with a beaded ribbon to accent the dropped waist. My first fringe estimate was too conservative and I also ended up taking the wrong hip measurements for the ribbon. So I went back a second time to get the rest of what I needed. I did manage to get just enough fringe but sadly there wasn’t any more of the ribbon I needed. In the end I think I’m happier with the way it turned out.



Please excuse the college apartment decor behind me.

Because we were having a fabulous time, this is the only decent photo of me in the dress. It’s hard to see it, but I’m also wearing a sparkly feathered hairpiece. I found a rhinestone broach and glued a bunch of black feathers into a swoopy design on the pack of it, then just bobby pinned it in.