Flour Sack Clothing: A Little Known Highlight in the History of ‘Textiles’

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Recently, we came across a post on social media that piqued our curiousity:

We decided to look into this a little further, and what we discovered was a rather beautiful example of the textile industry doing real good and enhancing the lives of millions, something that AAPN members continue to do to this day. 

So what was the deal with these flour sack clothes?

When flour manufacturers saw women turning their flour sacks into clothing, diapers, dish cloths, and more, they started packing their flour in sacks printed with pretty patterns. Families greatly appreciated this, as times were so hard.

 

The sacks came with bright, colorful designs, and sometimes even patterns for childrens’ toys — like the one seen here being filled with flour for delivery. The sacks were labeled, but the ink was washable.

The sacks came with bright, colorful designs, and sometimes patterns for toys — like the one seen here being filled with flour for delivery. The sacks were labeled, but the ink was washable.Due to the tight budgets of struggling families, flour sack clothing was becoming very common — thus, many unique designs were printed on the sacks.

Due to the tight budgets of struggling families, flour sack clothing was very common — thus, many unique designs were printed on the sacks.Soon the sacks came came in a variety of colors and styles. There was something for everyone and some of them were truly lovely. They would not look out of place in today’s fashion market, especially in the children’s apparel space.

The patterns came in a variety of colors and styles. There was something for everyone!

In fact, it’s estimated that during the Depression, 3.5 million US women and children were wearing clothing and using items made from flour sacks.

It's estimated that during the Depression, 3.5 million women and children were wearing clothing and using items made from flour sacks.

It seems strange to think about wearing a flour sack now, but for millions, it was a way of life due to the severity of the Depression.

And if they had to wear flour sacks, they might as well have looked nice.

The patterns were diverse in styles, as manufacturers tried to make something appealing for people of all ages and interests.

Many of them were adorable, and fabric designers still use a lot of the same styles today.

The sacks even came with instructions on how to wash out the ink of the company’s printed logo.

The sacks even came with instructions on how to wash out the ink of the company's printed logo.

There were also tutorials on how to turn the sacks into all kinds of useful items. These were like the DIY articles of the 1930s.

There were also tutorials on how to turn the sacks into all kinds of useful items. These were like the DIY articles of the 1930s.

Some sacks even came with instructions and suggestions printed right on them — in washable ink, of course.

Some sacks even came with instructions and suggestions printed right on them — in washable ink, of course.

Amazing stuff right?

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