This article on upcycling as a design trend in the Ecologist made me lust after several items, chief among them this hot chair reupholstered in coffee sack.
My first thought in seeing this was “I’m going to Peru next week for work. I wonder how hard it is to find cute coffee sacks.” My second: “What was the name of that sweet book I read when I was a kid about a poor family and the daughter gets so excited for a new dress made from a pretty feed sack, then is devastated when the other kids recognize where she got the fabric?”
I’ll let you know if I ever remember. Some Web searching on the subject led to some other charming discoveries, though. This feed sack dress pictured on Meme’s Corner looks exactly like what I imagined when reading the aforementioned young adult fiction and speaks to the resourcefulness of Americans in the 1930’s and 40’s when we shared a common understanding of what it meant to live on limited resources.
People were in the mode of “making do or do without”. Not only did chicken feed come in cloth bags but cattle and horse feed as well … Later burlap type bags were used and came in printed designs. Neighbors would trade feed sacks to have enough for a garment.
Magazines and pattern companies were quick to see a new market and were quick to produce patterns designed to fit efficiently on empty feedsacks.
There’s a lot out there once you start looking. I found this site (and several others) selling vintage feed sack cloth. A lot has been written as well on using feed sacks in quilts, the ultimate in textile upcyling. All these links about cloth feedsacks nearly made me forget the original impetus for my internet searching in the first place: burlap coffee sacks. There are 428 results for coffee sack on Etsy, mostly pillows and bags. They also make great hats.
One could get easily lost in all the neat newly upcycled stuff there is out there made of vintage sacks. At $10-12 a pop, they probably cost less than a lot of designer fabric and add a little story to whatever is made out of them.