Yesterday I took a quick walk through one of the flea market/antique malls on my regular route. I had not been there in some time so had no idea what to expect (as usual). I was only there about 45 minutes, but I found some wonderful things. This first set of blocks is so colorful and fun. As always with sets like these, I think that I would never have chosen to pair up the colors the maker did. They work, though, don’t they? All the parts go together to make a dynamic, cheerful whole. I will have to play with how I want to set these together, but I had fun moving them around. There will be some challenges, of course, since the block size varies quite a bit.
Many of the solids in the blocks above are feedsack, as are some of the prints in the Bible blocks below. I know this by the holes from where the bags were sewn together. This is the only proof positive I know of that a fabric is feedsack (unless, of course, it is still in bag form). Experts have argued long and loud over this, but most agree that you cannot tell a feedsack just by its weave or print (as is too often thought). (Truth be told, I know a few, and I mean very few–as in count-’em-on-one-hand-few–feedsack experts who might be able to tell you for sure that a fabric is feedsack without seeing the holes. These are folks who have handled thousands upon thousands of feedsacks. They are the real experts.) For all the rest of us, then, holes (failing the presence of an uncut bag) are the only indisputable proof that the fabric is feedsack. There were countless small prints that came out in the late 1920s and through the 1930s, 40s, and 50s (and even into the 60s). Some went on bags, some did not. But for each era, they are, obviously, similar to each other. I don’t know about you, but my memory is not nearly good enough to keep them all straight. So, while often I will say that something is “feedsack-style,” or “feedsack-like,” if I don’t see those holes somewhere, I won’t say for sure that it is feedsack.
I mentioned some Bible blocks too. I was most excited to find these. There were 15 in the package, and while they were a little more than I like to pay for blocks in my area, I thought they were pretty special. The pattern is not unusual, but I will give it the name, “A Quilt of Variety.” The pattern was published under this name by the Kansas City Star on 19 January 1938. The fabrics fit that time frame, so it is possible the maker used that particular pattern. Of course, it was also published by the Ladies Art Company, and, again, is not unusual, so that is just a thought. Each of the blocks is hand-embroidered with a verse from the Bible.
Some are in pairs, that is, the first half of the verse is on one block and the second on another.
In one of those fun coincidences that makes what I do so much fun, I realized, as I was showing these blocks to my husband, that I recognized the pink print of the four blocks above. I said, “I’m pretty sure this is feedsack and I have some of it.” After having heard me say that at least a thousand times, he wisely remained silent. I went downstairs and opened a drawer, just sure I had it. What I found was this:
Yep, you guessed it. I had a bundle of feedsack pieces my mother-in-law gave me and there, right in the middle was that same print. (Incidentally, the feedsacks these pieces came from belonged to one of my husband’s grade school teachers.) So, we have proof that that pink print is a feedsack. That’s fun. While I can guess that the other prints might also be, I’m sticking to my story. If I don’t see a feedsack that matches, and can’t find the holes to prove it, I won’t commit. Call me a chicken, but I try not to take a hard position when it comes to things that happened when I wasn’t there. There is a lot to know and I do my best to keep up with it, but too often, staking out an inflexible position can get pretty ugly. I just prefer not to go there.
In any event, I am pretty excited about all of these blocks. I bought them locally but have no idea who made them. I can surmise a few things about the maker of the Bible blocks by her use of fabrics, her choice of verses, and even by looking at her handwriting (embroidery), and, as always, that will have to be enough.