I want to buy some feed sacks but am unsure of where to get them. I see them listed on eBay but am not sure of what would be a good price.
Is there any rule-of-thumb information you could share? Which are the more desirable ones—particular colors, designs? If there are multiples, what would be a good idea of how much more they should be?
Thank you for taking the time for my questions.
Feed sacks can be hard to find, but not impossible. Some good places to look would be flea markets, antique shops, resale stores, estate sales, auctions and eBay. If you find vintage fabric and are unsure if it is vintage or new, a good rule of thumb to remember is fabric width: pre-1950s fabric was generally 36" wide or less. After 1950, most fabrics were manufactured at approximately 45" wide. Don’t have a tape measure handy? Measure from your nose turned toward your left hand to your out-stretched right hand; that’s about 36". Try this at home with a tape measure to get a good feel for a 36" width.
If the fabric you find also has stitching holes along the selvages, that is a sure indication of a feed sack. The feedsacks were stitched with string instead of thread, and the stitching leaves behind telltale holes.
Fabric weave is NOT a good indicator of a feed sack. Feed sacks were sewn up with all different weights of fabric, depending upon what was put in the sack (flour required a tighter weave than chicken feed, for instance), and also what grade of fabric the bag manufacturers bought.
Price?? Expect to pay somewhere between $8 and $20 for a full-size feed sack (about a yard in today’s measurements). Pretty designs in wonderful condition may cost more. Novelty fabrics (cute animals, people, or something other than flowers) usually cost more, and can run as high as $100!
If buying on eBay, be sure to read the description on condition, or ask questions. Also, be sure to check the size, as many people only sell partial feed sacks. You don’t want to pay the price of a full feedsack only to receive 1/4 of a sack.
Multiples of the same print would be useful if you are using them for a backing, otherwise, variety in designs would be more desirable.
Some people collect a certain color feed sack, while other only collect novelties. Or, you can buy just what appeals to you, there are no hard and fast rules to collecting sacks! Just be aware, once you start, you may catch “sackitus”—an addiction to feed sacks! (I have a bad case of it myself—no known cure.)
As with most antiques, condition is important. It’s not uncommon to find holes or stains in vintage feed sacks. Be sure to look at all of the feed sack to determine condition, as condition will also help determine price. And, the hunt is part of the fun in collecting feed sacks!
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