Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Trip back in time

For the last two weeks, Tank has turned up with three different old fashioned feed sacks...

the kind that were immeasurably useful on farms in days past.

Yesterday, as he went walking by with one, I decided to investigate the source.

One of our outbuildings (most of which predate the house) seemed to be the center of interest for him at times and the door to the building is down, thereby giving him access.

Going to the building is really a trip back in time anyway.

It has always been known as the Commodity house... and therein was stored many of the necessities that were not in use at the time.  There hangs three of the four boards which made up my great grandmother's quilting frame.  You'd have to wonder what the fourth board was used for, as I've searched for it a number of times to no avail. It contains a treasure trove of canning jars, both antiquated and the ones that I use today.

Anyway, sure enough, on a table, just out of comfortable reach was a black plastic bag, circa late 1960's, which had disintegrated to bits and hanging down behind the table, just in reach of a curious pup were several more feed sacks.

As I reached for the stack, the first thing that I grabbed had strings...

... apron strings....

Now in my head, I hear the great aunt that raised me "Don't go dragging those rags back into the house! There's enough dust in there to kill a person!"

Which might, indeed, be true...

But that seldom stops me.

In going through the 'rags', I found several extant garments, likely from the late twenties, early 30s based on fabrics and a selection of well used and stained feed bags.  Most were worn threadbare and many were, I'm sure, used to hang hams and shoulders which were cured.  I remember this being done in my lifetime and old soft feedbags were what we used.

A couple of garments will definitely deserve a blog post of their own. One is a night gown and I have a story of a nightgown with such strong memories for me that it's both hard to tell and wonderful at the same time.

But this story is about the feed bags and the aprons.

Ironically, I'd spent several hours cutting out several new aprons, for myself and for gifts yesterday morning.
I wear aprons... and love them and tend to have favorites.

There, in the stack of towels were 6 or 7 aprons... utilitarian aprons created from feed sacks.

Now, my great grandmother had some interesting sewing skills.  Self taught, I'm sure, her quilts were beautiful and always well made, but for some of the day to day utilitarian sewing, the work was rather "slapdash".
These aprons fall into that category.

The aprons ranged in 'pattern', which meant that she cut without a pattern, likely, making best use of the fabric at hand.  Three of the aprons were identical, meaning of course that this apron was a favorite... worth reproducing. One of this particular cut was embellished by a small amount of dress fabric, definitely 30's era.

One apron was a 'half' apron and it was obviously copied from something... a catalog or magazine perhaps.  I've found clippings from catalogs from that time period, and rather than order patterns, it's very likely that the aprons were freehand cut and then figured out.  It's likely that they were speedily done, based on need, as well.

This morning, my findings were washed and hung on the line, like they were so many countless times.

I'm gonna wear one of those aprons around and determine if I like the fit and function and then I'll reproduce it.

Last night as I lay down, I felt again that I had reached out just beyond today and touched my female relatives in a way that is both sweet and tinged with sadness.  The connection to them is palpable in my day to day life... I live my modern life in a home made of their will and strength and surrounded by their belongings that have come to be mine. It's really quite sweet.  Some days, you just get to actually touch it.

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