Vintage Grains Sack
Vintage Grain Sack – perfect fit for a casual decorating style
For the last few years I have seen vintage grains sacks used in home decorating and I really haven’t been too excited about the subject … until recently. While at High Point Market in April I discovered some great vintage fabric pieces at the booth of a fabric collector (she reminded me of my Grandmother) and now I’m intrigued with the history and the great design possibilities using this antique material.
The neutral colored field combined with all the wonderful accent stripes easily takes grain sack fabric from upholstery, to pillows, to stair runners; embracing a durable, hardworking, natural vibe and the rich texture of this vintage, home crafted fabric. I think causal, coastal style. I think natural, neutral palette. Grain sacks were made in hemp or linen – two of my all time favorite fabrics.
I had arrived at Market early to shop for new Belgian linen and instead I happened upon this great vendor with an extensive collection of vintage hemp grain sack fabric and bags. Eureka! Like the proverbial “kid in a candy store,” I spent the next several hours with a design buddy combing her inventory and selecting my favorites. She had so much to see and it was really difficult to pick my favorites. What a stack of treasures I have for the studio! Lucky me! Some of the grain sacks are perfect for making those super long bolster style pillows, while others pieces will be just right for creating a new throw pillow collection with the causal, coastal feel that I love so much. I also picked up a few of interesting smaller pieces that I knew would be perfect sewn into cute grain sack aprons.
A bit about grain sacks
These earthy, primitive grain sack pieces were made in Eastern Europe in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. Savvy antique dealers are searching European farms today for these vintage fabrics for resale. Around the turn of the last century farmers grew hemp and linen on their family farms, they retted the plants in the fields to remove the tough outer covering on the stalks, and then they hand wove the hemp and flax fibers into grain sacks. Wheat and other grains were taken to market for milling in these super durable bags. Each farm wove the bags with a special pattern signifying their farm, this helped ensure that the grain bags would be returned to the correct owner once the grains were milled.
I love the rustic quality of grain sack fabrics! Each piece is so unique. The background fabric colors typically range from a bleached white, to warm cream, to wonderful greys, with the occasional find of a warm, flax brown field (all colors I love.) The patterns are typically a stripe in one or two colors with shades of blue, red, gold, or green. The weaves range from dense to medium and vary from a soft to a coarser texture.
The width of goods range from 17”-23”. Rolls of vintage yardage are available and would be excellent for making a durable stair runner or a lovely table runner.
What to look for
I especially like the finely hand stitched seams on the sacks. Really, the stitching is so fine and amazing! While working with the bags I strive to keep the hand stitched seams intact and avoid adding button holes – I’m trying to maintain the original integrity of the fabric. I think that the hand crafting is a huge part of the grain sack charm and legacy.
As these pieces are vintage and were once used on working farms, there will be wear; that’s all part of the story and the patina. I have tried to select pieces in the best condition for my studio work. I have seen some patches in photos – they do add a certain charm. When selecting grain sack inspect with care so you are fully aware of the condition of each piece.
German grain sacks often have the name of the family farm and the date stenciled or monogrammed on the pieces. These original German sacks are rare and so a bit harder to find.
Vintage grain sacks can be made into … anything! The one thing to remember is that you will be working with a narrow piece (17″-23″ wide) so you will have to select and plan accordingly. Vintage grain sack fabric can be sewn together in strips to achieve the wide width needed for a blanket or coverlet.
The wider pieces are darling used in upholstery.
Dream it and create it. I especially love grain sacks made into a purse or tote bag. Oh, and the extra-large bolster style pillow – so cute on a bed, swing, or sofa.
Just a few ideas – Pillows, Bedding, Bags, Upholstery, Stair Runner, Table Runner, Apron, & Lamp Shade.
Check the Vintage section of Feathered Cottage to see our current inventory. See our Vintage Grain Sack Apron in Blue #1 below.
Thanks for stopping by and I would love to hear your ideas and stories.