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Thursday, September 1, 2011


The idea of making use of empty feed sacks has been around since the early 1800s and is still a viable source of inexpensive and durable material. The material used in feed sacks has changed as many things that were once packaged in cloth bags are now being placed in heavy duty paper or plastic. But cotton and burlap sacks are still in use. Burlap is mainly used to hold potatoes, cotton and corn, while cotton bags are used for flour, beans and rice in the food industry. In the pioneer days, some families' only source of cloth for children's clothes was from empty cotton feed sacks. Little girls had dresses and blouses that were made from feed sacks. Men's work shirts and mother's dresses aprons also originated as feed sacks. Pillow cases and dish towels almost all originated as feed or flour sacks.

Manufacturers begin to realize that they could make their feed sacks out of attractive material with the hopes that they would sell more to the farmer whose wife wanted the pretty fabric to create a dress. Feed sacks can still be used to create clothing items. Use vintage or modern feed sack material to create blouses, dresses and men's shirts. Use a standard clothing pattern to create the clothing item using feed sack material. Cotton feed sacks are best for clothing projects, but burlap sacks can be used to create a particularly rustic look.

Create reusable shopping bags or travel totes. Cut and sew feed sacks into a sack and use a pretty ribbon as a handle. The sacks can be used to take groceries home from the grocery store or as a purse or travel tote to carry personal objects. Making totes and bags out of feed sacks is good for the environment because not only are you repurposing the feed sack, but by creating a bag or tote of it, you are not using environmentally harmful plastic sacks from the grocery store.

A curvaceous and stylish dress in a natural burlap


Feed sacks can be used to create trendy looking gift wrap. Use paper or fabric feed sacks to create natural looking gift wrap. Embellish wrapped packages with natural items such as dried flowers and satin ribbons. You can also use feed sacks to create small doll items such as doll clothes and rugs. Feed sacks also make good kitchen towels.

                  Rags to Riches Apron Line

      What a unique and purely organic apron this is!

The bags are 28" x 40".  This particular bag has an interesting motif on both sides, so one bag can be used to make two aprons.  The burlap POTATO sacks have not been laundered.  I chose to wash and dry the sack to soften it up a bit and then ironed it. 

Supplies to make one apron:
  • one burlap bag, washed, dried and ironed.
  • 1 1/4 yards fabric for lining, washed and dried
  • ruler
 Cut bag along edges.

 Mark the center point of the motif.  Even out the sides and bottom of bag.  In this example, there was 5.25" to the right of the motif.  So I cut off the excess on the left side for an overall size of 23.5" x 35". 

Mark 5.5" to the left and right of the center point; mark 11.5" down on the sides.

Draw a curve between the two points and cut out that top portion of the apron.  (You could also trace an existing apron.)

Use the cut out piece as a pattern to make the same cut on the other side.

Place lining fabric underneath the bag and cut out.

 Pin ties to right side of lining, raw edges together.  The shorter strip is the neck piece and the longer strips are the waist ties.  The ties should be placed one inch from the sides edges.

Place right sides together and pin so that the straps are encased on the inside.

Sew or serge using a small stitch length and a 1/2" seam allowance around the perimeter of the apron.  Leave a 6" opening at the bottom.  Trim curves and corners being careful not to trim too closely since the weave of the burlap is somewhat loose.  Turn apron inside out and press; press the seams of the opening to the inside and pin.

Top stitch the entire apron using a fairly small stitch to secure the  BURLAP bag to the lining and reinforce the weave of the burlap.



  1. Pull a strand of burlap to use as your thread.
  2. Cut 2 flowers with five petals each (I free-handed them).  Stack them and sew an X through the center to hold them together.
  3. Stitch a circle around the X  on the top layer and pull the thread to gather
    it.  This cups the flower.
  4. Sew or hot glue a button in the center of the flower. 

    How to Remove Smell From Burlap Fabric


    • 1
      Place the burlap in a well-ventilated, dry area outdoors. Let the fabric air for several hours.
    • 2
      Sprinkle some baking soda onto the burlap and let it sit for an hour.
    • 3
      Shake out the baking soda and check for any lingering odors.
    • 4
      Soak the burlap in white vinegar for 30 minutes if you still detect an odor.
    • 5
      Rinse the burlap with water and spread it out to dry.

O.K. Maybe not!!!

Now when someone asks where you scored that awesome apron or your killer napkins, you can feel superior when you say they're one of a kind!