Monday, November 16, 2009

Feed Sack Fabric Memories

My brother is visiting and we went to local antique shops. I found some feedsacks for $4 each and scooped them all up. There were three each of two different plaids and a pretty medium blue with a large white flower. I am building up my collection again and think I will use them in a quilt soon.

Back in the mid-1950s my family would travel from Tonawanda, NY to the Allegheny Mountains in Pennsylvania and visit the Putt's Farm. This was our typical outing on Easter Sunday or some time during the peak color season in the fall. I recall the moutain sides filled with trees leafed in oranges, russets, browns and yellows. I thought they looked like Trix cereal!

The Putts ran a working farm. I could pet the black and white cows, if I watched where I walked in the cow field. Once I saw Mrs. Putt candeling eggs gathered from the hen house. The boys would drive an old truck up the steep hill side, and we'd rattle back down...there were no breaks on the truck! Once Dad showed me how you could chew on the small twigs of a tree that tasted like birch beer.

My mother would get feed sack fabrics from the Putts and bring them home. My grandmother sewed them into summer clothes for me, simple sleeveless shirts and shorts. There are home movies of me running around the yard, jumping on and off the swingset, wearing the brightly patterned (and too large) feedsack clothes. Grandma made the clothes large enough for me to wear two summers, with 'growing room.' So I spent the first summer with shorts that stuck out like a skirt and sleeves that fell off my shoulder.

I inherited a quilt from my grandfather's aunt, a Dresden plate made in the 1950s that uses older feedsack fabrics. I have used feedsack fabrics in 1930's reproduction quilts and to repair Depression era quilts. I used feedsacks as borders and sashing for a crayon-tinted embroidered quilt. It is amazing to think how long these vintage fabrics have been kept in stashes, waiting to be put to use.

The zany plaids I found this weekend will inspire me and find their quilt.