Does My Quilt Have Feed Sacking In It?

Many quilt owners believe that feed sacks, or textile bags, have been used in their quilts. Often, the quilt owner will point to a coarsely-woven printed fabric to point out, what is believed to be, fabric from a feed sack. Often, the quilt owner is disappointed to find their belief can´t be confirmed. Here´s how to determine if feed sacks have been used in your quilt.

Identifying marks: If the fabric has a white or off-white background with, what appears as writing, you can usually determine this is fabric from a textile bag. These may appear as “smudges” and you may think the fabric is stained. Look closely! You may have to use a magnifying glass to read the print or even a mirror if the writing is reversed.

Stitching holes: These holes, along the sides and top where the bag had been chain stitched, never seem to disappear; but, most likely the maker cut them off and discarded them. It takes careful examination to find these holes. If your quilt has either writing or stitching holes indicating feed sacks then include that information on your quilt label.

Printed fabric: Without writing or stitching holes, fabric, by itself, can not determine if it is from a feed sack. Why? The manufacturers produced the same print fabric for feed sacks and off-the-bolt, in coarse and fine weave. But----what if you “know” feed sacks were used to make your quilt, because the quilt maker told you this information? Or, what if you recall wearing clothing made from feed sacks and you can point out on your quilt the exact fabric? By all means, note this information on your quilt label. Keep in mind, there still has to be evidence of the stitching holes and/or writing, to “prove” feed sacks were used in your quilt´s construction.


©Alexandra (Sandy) Schweitzer 3/2009