Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Wish this was now!

My friend Therese Inverso is always sending me little presents in the mail. I never know what it will be when I open it. They are always wrapped in a little fabric bag that she makes out of scraps of recycled fabrics with an i-cord drawstring. Therese is an amazing knitter and over the years she has made projects for my books. She teaches knitting in southern NJ and knowing how passionate and meticulous she is about both her knitting and sewing, I can’t imagine how fabulous her classes are.

Therese is a gardener too and she loves to hear my stories about the farm. About five years ago, she turned me on to a great book called “The Egg and I” which someone just re-suggested I read in the comments section of my blog. Written by Betty MacDonald in 1945, it tells her story of finding herself living in a dilapidated farm on the west coast, with her new husband as they struggle to revive an old farm. This book was a major hit in the 1940’s. I enjoy reading books from a different time period because I discover the social roles of women honestly instead of reading what is written now in current day history books by modern day historians. “The Egg and I” went on to become a huge success as a movie with Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert. It spawned the Ma and Pa Kettle series of movies (hilarious) which (I think) in turn spawned the Beverly Hillbillies. Our family has watched and re-watched all the movies several times – they are fun for kids and adults.


Therese’s packages usually include something handmade that she donates to my collection which I promise to keep in safe keeping forever. I was thrilled to one day receive this.


It is a feed sack that Therese had saved from her childhood. She has told me that flour, sugar, and grain for animals came in similar fabric bags. This is how our grain comes – in large 50 lb paper bags. Kind of lacks the fabric charm, doesn’t it.


As a child, Therese embroidered zillions of these flour sacks along with her sisters (see her beautiful work at bottom of post on the scrap). I can only imagine the thrill of going to the store to purchase flour but actually looking at the sack to decide which brand to buy with visions of stitching a new pillowcase or tea towel. Wouldn’t it be fun if someone brought back this kind of packaging today? I would definitely become a customer.

Don’t worry Therese, I will keep your treasure safe. And thanks!

10 comments:

Peggy said...

What absolutely precious gifts!!!!! Nothing could be more special.

Kathleen C. said...

Our local quilt museum occasionally has a feedsack exhibit.
They not only made tea towels they made *everything* out of the feedsacks! Quilts, dresses, aprons, pillowcases, curtains, doll clothes... even their underwear.
The underwear was usually made from the plain natural colored sacks. One woman told the story of how her mother would try to bleach the stamped company name off the sack... because nothing was more embarrassing that having your skirt fly up and your underwear spell out "Miller's Chicken Feed!"

Peg-woolinmysoup said...

I can remember my Mom embroidering on flour and sugar bags. She would wash them first and put them out to dry in the frost to bleach and then get out her threads. She would be 100 next month, if she were still alive. I am a mat hooker, and years ago, women would hook the patterns on the burlap feed sacks. Women used what they had and I admire that, as we seem to always be on the search for the newest and the latest of anything and everything! Have we truly progressed? I wonder sometimes.

Nancy said...

When I lived in Cortez, CO about 20 years ago, the Cortez mill sold their flour in the local groceries in fabric bags, just like decades before.

Miss Eagle said...

I read The Egg and I many years ago and have never forgotten it. Clarice at the blog,Storybook Woods, tells me that she has go past the area where the McDonald's lived when she goes to town. One of the reasons why the Pacific North West is top of my list of places to visit should I ever visit the USA. Loved the flower sack embroidery. Beautiful work. Here in Oz have seen flour bag aprons and curtains but never such embroidery. How will you conserve it?

Raggy Rat said...

super blog, thanks - and lucky you getting a great piece of social history like that xxx

Lisa W said...

How resourceful women were to make such beautiful things out of something quite utilitarian. My mother tells me that her mother would also save the string that came on packages to knit sink cloths. Now I must add The Egg and I to my reading list. Thanks!

Judy F said...

My grandmother used to make feed sack dresses for me when I was 4 to 6. They were usually tiny floral prints. I remember seeing them on the far corner of the portch and watching the level of the feed go down and figuring out how soon I would have a new dress. I'm 69 today.

Anonymous said...

I am wondering if it is the same Betty Macdonald of the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle stories- my favorites as a girl and to read to my own kids now. I will have to hunt down "The Egg and I".

Nellie said...

I remember going with my dad to get feed for the pigs and chicks and picking out the sacks of feed that I wanted a dress of the material. I later learned that he would guide the decision I made.