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Announcement for 1960 Cotton Bag Sewing Contest (excerpts)

You can win wonderful prizes! Enter your fair's 1960 Cotton Bag Sewing Contest. Buy your commodities in cotton--sew the bags to win cash, sewing machines, home appliances and other valuable gifts including Free Vacation in Hollywood!

Photograph with caption: 1959 national winners were royally entertained by Jack Bailey, famed emcee of the NBC-TV show, "Queen for a Day," during their stay in the film capital. Left, Cotton Bag Sewing Queen Mrs. J. Melvin Peterson, Route 2, Selah, Washington; and right, Mrs. G.R. Overall, runner-up, Route 1, Caldwell, Kansas.


1. Articles entered must be made entirely of cotton bags except for trimmings; they must have been made after January 1, 1960; and the same items may not be entered at more than one participating fair.

2. The first place fair winner shall be the contestant receiving the greatest number of first place ribbons. In the event of a tie, the winner shall be the tying contestant with the most second place ribbons; should a tie still exist, she shall be the tying contestant with the most third place honors.

3. No former national winner may enter the contest. No former sewing machine winner may win a sewing machine at any participating fair. In the event such a winner places first, she shall be the contestant who is eligible to enter the national finals. The sewing machine then shall be awarded to the highest eligible runner-up.

4. Contest is open to persons of any age. Contestants are subject to regulations of the fair entered. Decisions of fair judges, not conflicting with these rules, shall be final.

5. National finals will be held in Memphis, Tenn., on November 4. The first place winner of each participating fair may enter her sewing (articles representing each of eight classes) for judging as a unit. Entries are covered by insurance while in possession of contest sponsors.

[Entry classes: Kitchen apron and two potholders; pillow cases; sport or western shirt (any size); playsuit (any type or size); luncheon set (cloth or mats with four napkins); adult dress; cotton toy; crib quilt]

Enter your cotton bag sewing at one of these fairs: [List of 50 fairs through Untied States and their dates]

Grand Fair Award: Necchi Esperia Portable, retail value $139.95, with luggage-type carrying case.

National Prizes: A full week of exciting and glamorous entertaining in Southern California awaits the 1960 Cotton Bag Sewing Queen and her first alternate. Each may bring a companion of her choosing and select her mode of transportation--by jet, if available! The third place national winner will be awarded $200.00 in cash and a share of valuable merchandise gifts.

[Merchandise included gas range, refrigerator-freezer, console sewing machine cabinets, electric meet grinders, push-button blenders, coffeemakers, steam or dry irons, kitchen tool sets, dye packages, electric scissors and professional cutting boards, assortments of mercerized fast-color thread, sewing chests, and a four-piece canister set.] [Additional photographs included 1959 winner Mrs. J. Melvin Peterson and runner-up Mrs. G.R. Overall touring Disneyland, visiting Tennessee Ernie Ford during rehearsal for his weekly TV show, being interviewed on a Los Angeles regional farm radio station, lunching at 20th Century Fox's commissary, and feeding the world's largest captive whale at Marineland of the Pacific.] Contest sponsored by National Cotton Council and Textile Bag Manufacturers Association.


Feedbags as Fashion, NMAH exhibition brochure (excerpts), 1991

This single display-case exhibition was on view in the NMAH Flag Hall, August 6, 1991-January 30, 1992.

Life on America's farms in the 1920s and 1930s meant hard work and frugal habits. Farm families were used to "making do" with what they had, wasting nothing that could be recycled or reused. With feed sacks and flour bags, farm women took thriftiness to new heights of creativity, transforming the humble bags into dresses, underwear, towels, curtains, quilts, and other household necessities.

Bag manufacturers, grain dealers, and the cotton industry all profited from women's need for cheap cloth. By the 1940s textile mills were turning out feed bags in brightly colored solids and prints, along with plain ones. Shortages of fabrics for civilian use in World War II encouraged this trend toward fancy designs in the feed bag industry.

By mid-century, the bags had become more than a symbol of domestic thrift; they gave rural women a sense of fashion and modernity, and access, through sewing competitions, to a national consumer economy. By selling their surplus bags, women also replaced some of the traditional butter-and-egg income they lost when farm men took over expanding dairy and poultry production in the postwar years. And by their choices of particular prints, women often controlled what brand of feed grain or food commodity their husbands purchased.

Caption: Turning feed bags into usable fabric required painstaking labor. Before the 1940s, manufacturers packaged goods in bags emblazoned with brand names or logos. Women had to scrub out the stubborn inks of these designs before the bag material could be used. They then might bleach, dye, or decorate the bags with embroidery or paint.

An Ode to Flour-Sack Underwear When I was just a maiden fair, Mama made our underwear; With many kids and Dad's poor pay, We had no fancy lingerie. Monograms and fancy stitches Did not adorn our Sunday britches; Pantywaists that stood the test Had "Swans Down" on my breast. No lace or ruffles to Enhance Just "Jockey Oats" on my pants. One pair of panties beat them all, For it had a scene I still recall- Chickens were eating wheat Right across my little seat.

-Anonymous author


For Style and Thrift, Sew with Cotton Bags, brochure, 1940 (excerpts)

Pick Cotton and Save. Buy staples in Cotton Bags. Flour-Salt-Feed-Sugar-Meal are examples of products packed in Cotton Bags. In every household such supplies are bought regularly-and the bags are free. Just ask for the Cotton Bag package.

The larger more desirable bags can be had by purchasing in the larger quantities, the more economical way. Smaller bags in which foodstuffs are purchased are also made of fine materials and can be used for making the smaller articles described in this book.

Bakers have cotton bags which they are glad to sell reasonably and the bags are of the larger sizes which cut to excellent advantage.

Laundered cotton bags may be purchased from your Mail Order House or local department store ready for immediate use.

Ask your friends to save their cotton bags for you, if they do not intend to use them. Frequently they are considered of not much use-but you know they are.

This handbook on the uses of cotton bags has been prepared by the [Textile Bag Manufacturers] Association as one of its educational projects and is offered to homemakers, sewing instructors, home demonstration agents, club leaders and other interested groups to show what can be done with cotton bags.

You Can Make This Charming Dress . . . from Cotton Bags

Don't Throw Your Cotton Bags Away! Save Them and, with Them, Make Something Smart and Useful!

Dozens of Practical Sewing Suggestions Are Outlined in This Compact Handbook

Seeing is believing. The diagrams on the opposite page indicate how easily and successfully a pretty daytime frock can be made from cotton bags such as are used for flour, feed, meal, salt and sugar. Just open the seam of the empty bag, remove the printing, wash it thoroughly, press it smooth and lay a piece of your pattern upon it. The larger pieces of the skirt are placed on the largest bags, the sleeves and sections of the blouse on the smaller bags-as shown in the diagrams opposite.

To Rip Bag-Most cotton bags are sewn with chain stitching. This stitching usually starts in the lower corner near the fold. By cutting the chain close to the bag and taking hold of the ends of the upper and lower threads at this point and pulling both, the stitching is ripped in a few seconds. If any difficulty is experienced, the bag has perhaps been stitched from the other end.

To Remove Printing-(1) The ease with which printing ink may be removed from cotton bags depends on the kind of ink that has been used. Under ordinary circumstances, it is sufficient to cover the inked places with lard or soak them in kerosene overnight. Then wash out in lukewarm water. If only a faint, barely discernible marking may still be seen, it is safe to assume a few washings will remove the remaining traces. (2) Wet a bar of laundry soap and rub on the dry bag. Repeat wetting the soap and rubbing on until the bag is covered with a thick layer of soap. Roll the bag up and let it stand for several hours before washing. When the bag is washed and boiled, it will be as white as any muslin. Start a Sewing Class-A great problem solved! Clothing is now economically made by those with limited budgets. Why not start a sewing class with your friends? With very little effort, a few cents for dye, thread and trimmings, this booklet as a guide, you and your friends will be able to convert cotton bags into attractive clothing for yourselves and for your families. [Styles, sizes, and bag requirements for various men's, women's, and children's fashions, including: Play Clothes for Summer-Smart Culotte, Play Suit, Slack Ensemble, Chic Daytime, Button Front Frock, Slim Waisted Bodice Attractive Frocks for Afternoon-Maternity Frock, Stout Daytime, Attractive Daytimer, Bolero Frock, Afternoon Frock, Jacket Ensemble School Parade for Children-Toy Animals, Dress and Sunsuit, School Dress and Slip, Brother and Sister, Pinafore and Doll, Infant's Layette, Child's Sleeping Garment, Boy's Overall, Sunsuit and Bonnet]


Related Images

Cover of brochure promoting cotton  sewing.
Cover of brochure promoting cotton sewing.
National Cotton Council promotional literature
National Cotton Council promotional literature
Announcement for 1958 Cotton Bag Sewing Contest
Announcement for 1958 Cotton Bag Sewing Contest
National Cotton Council promotional literature
National Cotton Council promotional literature

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