Friday, September 14, 2012

Feed Sacks, Money Bags and little French Dogs

What's old is new again, then it fades away. Then it re-emerges. Pioneer women made use of every bit of fabric, and that included bleaching the ink printing from burlap and logos from cotton flour sacks to make clothing for their families. It wasn't considered fashion-forward. It was for survival.

America laughed at the ridiculously hilarious "I Love Lucy" episode where Lucy whined to Ricky because she wanted a Jacques Marcel "origninal" Paris dress...and she went on a hunger strike until she got it.

Ethel smuggled food to her, so the strike was a farce. Meanwhile, Ricky and Fred hatched a plan to make dresses for their "honeybunches" out of burlap, and pretend that they'd bought Marcel's originals in Paree.

The moral of the story unfolded...Lucy and Ethel strutted and posed in their "Marcel's." The trick was exposed, and the girls were humiliated, but meanwhile Marcel caught wind of the "groundbreaking" fashion, and copied Ricky and Fred's designs. By the time Lucy and Ethel could have claimed the design and produced it, Fred and Ricky had burned the original outfits. 

I remember burlap potato sacks being used in the late 60's and 70's at school fairs for sack races...and nothing said summer like a burlap burn and grass stains on skinny, shorts-clad legs. I don't remember anyone nabbing and repurposing the potato sacks...they just went back into storage for the next year's fair.  And that was probably the last time I had skinny, shorts-clad legs.

The French feedsack/grainsack trend emerged again a few years a cottage-y feel to spaces as disparate as an urban loft, a high end apartment, suburban and country homes. Restoration Hardware has tres expensive French and Belgian linen covered furniture, and stenciled accent pieces.

This canvas covered box was a birthday gift basket, filled with goodies--so nice to save!

Burlap potato sacks, coffee bean bags, printed cotton four sacks, and rice bags have been used to upholster chairs, daybed matresses, couches and ottomans (ottomen?), for window treatments, lampshades, pillows, table runners, headboards and corkboards.

You know a trend is on the downturn when a chair can be found on sale at Home Goods. I like the look, end of trend aside, and I would not have bought it for more than $50.

My sister Leslie made chair covers from rice bags I got for $1 each at a junk shop!

Stacks of linens and piles of pillows in various shops around Paris and the Loire Valley. I looked, and was inspired, but did not buy!

I found an old canvas money bag for $7 at a flea market in NC. I washed and ironed it, stuffed it with an old bolster pillow and tied it with a ribbon that complemented the brown sofa and sage green walls of my "reading room." I like it because I use to work at that address in NYC! It's a comfy throw pillow.

The French have adopted the German Dachshund, to the point where they are viewed as "very French!" I took this "dog crossing" photo in Paris.

We've made their stenciled burlap into a French Industrial trend. It is said that fashions fade, but style is eternal. Look around, get inspiration from various sources and choose the look YOU want, trending or not.

La vie est belle. Level and Plumb!

1 comment:

  1. Good finds! Potato sacks do have many uses. The story “I Love Lucy” was hilarious! And I like the old canvas money bag. It’s amazing that it still has the bank prints on it. Sadly, it’s rare to see old canvas sacks being used in banks nowadays. I guess there’s always history to look to for these.