Feedbag dress, with matching curtains

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 30, 2006

Years ago, you could get feedbags made of cotton. They came in bright colors and pretty patterns.

Believe me when I say they were beautiful. You could not go to the department stores and buy anything like it and you certainly couldn’t beat the price. My grandmother would buy these bags for ten cents each. Sometimes she could get only one of a kind but most of the time she could get several. At other times she got many of one pattern.

She took them apart and washed them and they were as soft as – well – cotton.. She made a variety of things from them. I remember tablecloths, curtains, aprons, daybed covers, pillow covers and dresses for me. With the scraps she made quilts and doll clothes. She let me help when she made the doll clothes. Despite that very happy experience I am not a happy sewer. It is just not something I enjoy. It is something I do only if I cannot find what I want already made.

Once she made me a dress of the feedbag material with stripes. The stripes were two shades of red, one dark and one a lighter shade. I thought it was absolutely beautiful. I went to school that day so proud of my new dress. That afternoon when I got back to my grandmother’s house, I went around to the back door. Coming through the porch and into the kitchen, I froze. There on grandmother’s kitchen window were curtains made from the same material as my dress. I was mortified. Can you imagine me and the kitchen curtains matching? I could just see our family sitting around the table with the curtains and me very noticeably the same. Or worse still friends and neighbors visiting and seeing that my dress and the kitchen curtains were a matching set. It was just more than I could stand.

When I tried to explain it to my grandmother she was very much opposed to my attitude. She had worked hard on both and did not want to get rid of either the curtains or the dress. It was a constant battle from that day on over wearing the dress. I absolutely felt like I could not hold up my head and wear that dress. Grandmother felt she had worked hard to make me a very pretty dress and it shouldn’t go to waste. We finally worked things out. She took down the curtains until the dress was worn out. It satisfied me because I felt people would then think my dress had been so pretty, grandmother recycled it into curtains when I out grew it.

I wish they still had those feedbags. It was just one of the perks of life then. Grandmother didn’t use the feed but she could buy the bags from the mill. Like many other things, feedbags have gone through quite a change. You sure wouldn’t make a feedbag dress now and wear it.