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What was America’s fabric of choice during the great depression?


During the Great Depression in the United States (1929 – 1939), owners of the flour mills in rural America noticed that many mothers of impoverished families recycled flour jute sacs into clothes they sewed for themselves and their children.

The opportunity did not escape shrewd mill owners and their partners who soon enough started to manufacture flour sacs from more colorful and floral fabrics. By the 1930s companies regarded the sacks’ print as a crucial selling point. 

Suddenly it was the farmer’s wife, rather than the farmer, who went to the feed store to choose which flour sac to buy. In the words of one store owner:” Years ago they used to ask for all sorts of feeds, special brands… now they come over and ask me if I have an egg mash in a flowered percale. It ain’t natural.”

Bonus fact: Finding bags that of the same print and pattern was important since many garments required more than a single sack. 

Flour sacs with prints for garments

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