In honor of Mother's Day I'm reflecting on how resourceful mothers are with the items they have on hand. I believe this is just as true now as it has been in the past--the pandemic has taught us that! Mothers have been masters of the home arts throughout the ages, making something out of 'nothing.' I certainly learned this from my mother.
As an artistic expression and to make good use of fabric scraps, quilters have enjoyed swapping fabrics to expand their design possibilities from the beginning. During the 1930's and 40's when the Great Depression and fabric shortages during World War II made acquiring fabric especially challenging, feed sacks (also flour sacks) became highly valuable to these resourceful women. Feed sacks took on decorative patterns and colors to attract buyers. They provided a frugal way for homemakers to provide fashionable clothing from something they had to buy anyway. Here's a fun fact: In the early 1940s approximately 3 million people wore at least one article of feed sack clothing! I wonder how they determined this? You can read all about this fashion trend in this article from Piecework magazine. After making fashionable pieces for their families, they were left with scraps--and some colorful quilts were born! Eventually packaging turned away from fabric and on to paper, so it was the end of an era.
When Mom and I were given this double wedding ring quilt top a few years ago, we marveled at the carefully pieced swatches of vibrant fabric held together with tiny hand stitching. Surely some of these pieces came from feed sacks. Neither of us has the patience for quilting, or even finishing a quilt with 'the hard part' already done. Plus, the connecting plain muslin pieces had spots of mold that we couldn't get rid of--and we TRIED! So, of course, we turned to making clothespin dolls. We saw how easily a few of the curved pieces were perfect for a small dress--with most of the sewing already done! So, we carefully chose which colors we wanted for each doll, added a shawl and bonnet from the triangle pieces--and there it was! A sweet little doll reminiscent of times gone by, perhaps when repurposing wasn't a 'trend' but more of a necessity.
We have a limited supply of these dolls available. Please email us if you are interested in purchasing one. If you are interested in other designs that use vintage linens, you will find patterns for making collectible clothespin dolls in I Can't Believe That's a Clothespin!.
Happy Mother's Day!