Sewing with Cotton Bags

Sewing with Cotton Bags. The Textile Bag Manufacturers Association, 1937. 

photo of 1937 pamphlet
Reproduction of _Sewing with Cotton Bags_, originally published in 1937, purchased on Etsy

               Sewing with Cotton Bags is a 32-page booklet (5.5 x 8.5 inches) produced in February 1937 by The Textile Bag Manufacturers Association. This copy was obtained on eBay, rather than being housed in a library archive.

Cotton bags were more commonly known as feed sacks or flour sacks, and this booklet includes tips on how to rip them open and flatten them out, how to remove printing from them, how to dye them, how to tailor garments for a perfect fit, and how to order more bags. The anonymous writers also include an illustrated guide of “important sewing stitches” and “simple embroidery stitches.” Pages 5-27 showcase women’s and children’s clothing and household items–like stuffed animals, aprons, tablecloths, curtains, and laundry bags—that can be made using the cotton bags, but there are no patterns or instructions for how to make the pictured items. Instead, the booklet includes order forms for the patterns, which cost ten cents each or three for twenty-five cents.

This booklet is useful because it offers ideas for turning feed sacks into clothing and other items, and the illustrations are helpful because they show the fashions of 1937. But, I’m not sure how helpful the five-cent booklet would have been for Depression-era farmwives who probably could not afford to order the patterns and likely wouldn’t need the fancy bridge party or luncheon table set pattern illustrated on page 15. Still, the booklet is useful to researchers interested in Depression-era textiles and the thrift of using feed sacks to stretch household dollars.