Ful-O-Pep Egg Ration feed sack
Holiday reindeer pattern made reusing cotton feed sacks even easier
In the 1940s, farm women were able to make Christmas toys and decorations using patterns and sewing instructions printed directly on cotton animal feed bags.
Around the turn of the 20th century, mills and feed companies began packaging grain, flour, sugar, and animal feed in sturdy cotton sacks. When thrifty farm women, faced with the scarcity of both fabric and income, began making clothes and household items out of the sacks, the companies quickly responded by designing sacks with easy reuse in mind. Companies tailored product design and marketing campaigns to female customers. How-to brochures, pattern booklets, mending instructions, and countless magazine articles were published specifically for making things from feed sacks.
Fabric choice became a major consideration when purchasing feed, grain, flour, or sugar. Women sent their husbands to the feed store with specific fabric requests and saved empty sacks to trade with neighbors. By the late 1940s, farm women were being surveyed about their design preferences and manufacturers were hiring textile designers to ensure their bags were made in fashion-forward prints.
Some companies printed patterns and sewing instructions for smaller items like dolls and toys directly on the bags. Even Christmas decorations, like the reindeer on this Ful-O-Pep chicken feed bag, were made from reused cotton sacks. All women had to do was cut them out, sew them together, and stuff them.
The reuse of cotton feed sacks came to an end when cheaper paper and plastic packaging was adopted in the 1950s and 1960s.
Courtesy Museum of Texas Tech University
Time Period: 1937 - 1945
This artifact is currently on view.