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Cover of brochure promoting cotton sewing.

National Cotton Council promotional literature

Flour-Sack Dress

Overall makes a dress
This flour-sack dress is the child's version of the dress that earned Dorothy Overall second place at the 1959 National Cotton Bag Sewing Contest. American women had long fashioned clothes from the cotton bags used as packaging for flour, meal, and animal feed. "My mother used to make things out of sugar sacks," recalled Overall, who lived on a Kansas wheat farm. "Even underwear. About everything they could buy that was savable, they used." By the 1940s, manufacturers even began to print sacks in attractive colors and patterns. "There were all kinds of prints, of every description, of most any color-striped, flowered, animal patterns, dotted, even plaid," said Overall. "If my husband bought it [the feed], it didn't usually suit me. He'd buy the first thing he saw. I usually took charge of buying the feed sacks." The custom disappeared in the 1960s, as paper and plastic packaging replaced cotton sacks.

Dimensions, 24" x 11"
Web display only

Learn more!
· Announcement for 1960 Cotton Bag Sewing Contest (excerpts)
· Feedbags as Fashion, NMAH exhibition brochure (excerpts), 1991
· For Style and Thrift, Sew with Cotton Bags, brochure, 1940 (excerpts)

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