Posted by: patwogan | November 11, 2008


The title of this post is somewhat misleading.  My mother was my stylist when I was growing up and sewed my clothes with loving and I think somewhat skillful hands.  I remember a pink princess style dress which had little glass buttons shaped like Scottie dogs.  I think the reason I remember it so well was that it was one of my favorites and something bad happened to it.

I was a little bit sickly when I was four or five years old and the doctor had said I needed to take cod liver oil.  I really don’t know what that was supposed to do for me, but I remember it was nasty.  All medicine at that time was nasty, I think.  Anyway, because it was so nasty, my loving mother found cod liver oil capsules.  They were cod liver oil covered in a gelatin covering.  It made them more palatable, but it also made them kind of fun to squeeze and play with.  I was playing with my cod liver oil capsule one morning as we were getting ready to go to church.  My father told me that if I broke it, it would smell bad and I would have to wear the pink dress to church anyway.  Well, I broke it all over the front of my pink dress and yes, I had to wear it to church anyway.  I was quite smelly and messy looking, but I supposed I learned a lesson.  I did learn that the stains from cod liver oil do not come out.  No Oxy-clean then.  So my cute little pink dress was ruined.

Another dress my mother made for me that was memorable was my Easter dress the year my baby brother was born.  I had described the dress I wanted by telling Mother it had ruffles that stood out.  She made me a beautiful lavender organdy dress with four or five tiers of ruffles, but they didn’t stick out.  What I know now is that I wanted was a tutu.  It was a very pretty dress but I was disappointed.  I didn’t let my Mother know it, though.  Or I don’t think I let my Mother know it.  Now that I am a Mother, I know that disappointment shows on the face of a six year old even if they don’t mean it to show.  I hope Mother’s feelings weren’t hurt by my disappointment.

During the war, there was a shortage of material, I think.  Anyway, cattle feed came in printed sacks and three sacks were enough to make a dress.  Mom and I would go to the feed store to pick out the sacks as there were lots of different prints.  I remember one dress in particular that she made me from feed sacks.  It had small red roses on it and was very pretty. I think there is a picture of Grandma Hudiburg and me taken when I was wearing that dress.  It was fun to go pick out the sacks for new dresses.  You had to be careful though for once in a while a mouse or rat had chewed a hole in the sack and that ruined it for making dresses.   Some of my friends had panties made of the same material of their dresses, but I always wore store bought panties of rayon material.  

When dresses wore out, they were cut apart for quilt pieces.  It was always fun to look for your favorite dresses in the quilts.  Quilts were never made from new material, it was always worn out dresses or shirts.  People were much more frugal then than now as they had to be.  Rugs were also made from strips of material from worn out clothes either crocheted or braided.  I don’t think anything was wasted.  Grandma’s button box was always something fun to go through as it contained buttons cut off of worn out clothes which were recycled and used on the new things.  I think people lived without leaving a big carbon footprint before a “Green Lifestyle” was ever thought of.  

The more things change, the more they remain the same, I guess.



  1. Interesting, I would never imagine that Grandpa Hudiburg was in a position his family used feed sacks for clothing. Thanks for that information.

  2. Can you imagine Grandma’s disappointment when you ruined that dress she made? Of course, I’m sure she didn’t show you her disappointment either!
    Undies out of feed sacks sounds very uncomfortable… or is it not the feed sack material I’m thinking of? Like gunny sacks?

  3. I, again, loved your story. When I am out and about digging in flea markets and antique stores, I always love finding a quilt made with feed sack fabric. I love them. They must have been made from the clothes made from the sacks, not the sacks themselves. I had always assumed the feed sacks were the original source for the quilts. Use and reuse. I love it.

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