Who better to tell a housewife how to sew with cotton bags than a group representing the makers of them, the Textile Bag Manufacturers Association? This booklet dates from 1937, but I’ve seen similar ones from as recent as the late 1950s, just as paper bags were replacing the cloth sacks. Generically known today as feedsacks, these bags are a hot commodity, selling for at least $10 each, and the best ones selling for $50 and even more. Wouldn’t those thrifty homemakers from the 1930s be shocked to learn that what they got free with a purchase of flour or sugar are going for such prices!
Sewing with Cotton Bags is thirty-two pages of ideas of what to do with all those bags. It was revised in 1937, but some of the styles are several years older, left over from an earlier edition. The drawing above shows a woman who is more likely from 1932 than 1937.
The pleated sleeve shown above left was a common sports sleeve, and I’ve seen it as early as 1932. I love how the booklet declares them to be “stylish” which is much better word in this case than “fashionable”!
The “Simple Sports Ensemble” on the left was a standard of any active woman’s wardrobe from the early 1930s through the 1940s. This one is probably from 1935 or so, due to the long skirt and the sleeves that are not gathered. The tennis dress appears to be from around the same time.
Wide legged pajamas were a 1930s standard. That set on the left was designed for sleeping, but many women took them to the beach as cover ups.
Cotton sacks were not just for clothes. You could also use them to make your summer cottage more charming.
They also worked well as a table cover. I can imagine all the great junk that was stored out of sight, behind the feedsacks.
The patterns shown in the booklet could be ordered for ten cents each, or three for twenty-five cents. Most are for aprons and clothes for small children, but some, like the blouses, were really quite nice, and yes, even stylish.