For a few sacks more... TRC exhibition, extended until 16th August

Flour sack made from bright yellow cloth with printed flowers, to be used for clothing or other domestic textiles. USA, 1960s (TRC 2017.2403).

Flour sack made from bright yellow cloth with printed flowers, to be used for clothing or other domestic textiles. USA, 1960s (TRC 2017.2403).

For a few sacks more.... How feedsacks clothed and warmed Americans during the Depression and later

This TRC exhibition opened on the 15th January 2018 and is about printed feedsacks! For a photographic impression, click here. The idea for the exhibition came as a result of a donation in 2017 of 35 feedsacks made of printed cotton cloth. These items reflect a story of resilience, female ingenuity, thriftiness, sustainability, art and design, national awareness, as well as economic and commercial insight for nearly fifty years, from the 1920’s to the 1960’s. It is an amazing story, and one that is now barely known outside of the US.

These decorative versions of the feedsacks became very popular and were used for a wide range of items, including men, women and children’s clothing and household items, such as bedding (sheets, pillowcases, quilts), curtains, tablecloths, and clothes pin bags. In fact, they were used for just about anything.

The exhibition includes examples of actual feedsacks, as well as clothing, toys, curtains, bags, etc. made from this type of material. In addition, there are numerous bed quilts made from feed sack materials, which reflect the creative use of the sacks and cloth scraps.

But the story of feedsacks and their secondary use is not just confined to the printed sacks re-used in the USA. During the First World War (1914-1918), American and Canadian flour companies were producing printed flour sacks that were sent (with their contents) to The Netherlands (which was neutral) for distribution in war ravaged Belgium and beyond. Many of these sacks were later locally embroidered and sent back to America as souvenirs, ‘thank you’ gifts, to be sold in auctions to raise more money to buy flour to be sent to Europe. These sacks often had patriotic and hopeful messages in various languages. Examples of Belgian embroidered sacks and their stories will also be on display.

The latest (January 2018) issue of the British magazine Selvedge includes an article on feedsacks in connection with the exhibition. Click here for a PdF version. A review of the exhibition by the (Dutch) Quiltersgilde, dated 5th February 2018, can be downloaded here. A YouTube film made by Andrew Thompson can also be watched by clicking here. There is also a review of the exhibition in the Leiden University online international students newspaper, called Vox, dated 30th March 2018. Click here.

Thanks to the generosity of the Small Grant Program of the USA Embassy, The Hague, it has been possible to organise this exhibition and accompanying events to present this fascinating story.





Financial donations to the TRC can be made via Paypal; Donaties aan de TRC kunnen worden overgemaakt via Paypal:

TRC in a nutshell

Hogewoerd 164, 2311 HW Leiden. Tel. +31 (0)71 5134144 / +31 (0)6 28830428

Opening times: Monday to Thursday: 10.00-16.00 hrs, other days by appointment.

Bank account number: NL39 INGB 0002 9823 59

Entrance is free, but donations are always welcome !

Current exhibition: For a few sacks more ...., until 28th June

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The TRC is dependent on project support and individual donations. All of our work is being carried out by volunteers. To support the TRC activities, we therefore welcome your financial assistance: donations can be transferred to bank account number NL39 INGB 000 298 2359, in the name of the Textile Research Centre, Leiden. Since the TRC is officially recognised as a non-profit making cultural institution (ANBI), donations are tax deductible for 125% for individuals, and 150% for commercial companies. For more information, click here
Financial donations to the TRC can be made via Paypal: