Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Embroidered Sacking & a Really Cute Chicken!


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Earlier this summer, I went on a road trip.

I almost called it a vacation, but if you understood how we do road trips, you would not want me to cast aspersions on the word Vacation.

Vacation conjures up lingering, enjoying, relaxing.

Our family road trips are None of the Above. They are go, go, go – get there – do what you have to do – leave – drive, drive, drive, drive, drive. Get to the next place – do what you have to do – drive, drive, drive, drive, drive – get to the next place. Stop and sleep. Get up early. Go, go, go, go. Drive, drive, drive, drive. Repeat anywhere from five to ten times. Arrive home.

So, vacation is the wrong word – road trip suffices.

Before venturing out on this particular road trip, I called for photo contributions from readers, so that I could highlight some of your work in articles this summer.

Many of you responded – many more than I expected, actually! And so I’ve been trickling them out on the website ever since, in the hopes that they provide fellow stitchers with embroidery ideas and inspiration.

Embroidered Feed Sacks

Jane Hauger sent in photos of her stitching pursuits, and I just love what she does! I would have never thought of this – and I’ve never seen anyone do it before – but I think it’s a really good, fun idea.

Embroidered Feed Sacks

Jane embroiders old sacking – feed sacks, sugar sacks, etc. Vintage sacks. And she does it for fun. She said it’s primitive, but she really enjoys it, and I can see why.

I’ve come across old sacks (feed sacks, especially) out here in Kansas that are pretty neat – I could see turning them (or pieces of them) into embroidered wall hangings in rustic kitchens, barn studios, or the like. Fun!

Jane uses the embroidery stitch tutorials here on Needle ‘n Thread to help her translate the sacks into embroidery.

Embroidered Feed Sacks

Wonderfat! What a name!

You can see how the printed sacking offers a whole range of embroidery opportunities. Find the right sack, and you could have a really unique and fun sampler in the works!

Embroidered Feed Sacks

Little roosters and chickens figure in the decor on this particular sack, perfect for embellishing with needle and thread.

Embroidered Feed Sacks

I love this plump chicken! It’s so cute! It’s a combination of chain stitch, woven filling, stem stitch, straight stitches, and bullion knots.

Thanks to Jane for sending in the photos, and for the great idea on making use of vintage sacking as a ground for some fun explorations in embroidery!

This is a continuation of series of articles highlighting embroidery from the Needle ‘n Thread community, especially needlework influenced by information, tutorials, patterns, and so forth from Needle ‘n Thread. You can find a call for contributions and an explanation of the series here, and you can see previous examples of embroidery-related reader contributions here.


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(23) Comments

  1. Dear Mary

    What an inspiration Jane is and imagine embroidering sacks. I’ve not come across sacks here in the UK and would not think to embroider them. I really like the festive Holly and the embroidered ‘Wonderful’ sack and what a good idea to decorate walls in a rustic environment lovely. There is so much talent here on Needle ‘n Thread and great ideas. Thanks Jane lovely work and thanks Mary for sharing the readers needlework with us it’s great to see others people’s embroidery. I was out yesterday but I do like what you have done to the Hummingbirds.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  2. I love the row of chickens! Great idea. Someone embroidered designs on dresses that was printed on fabric which was quite unusual also.

  3. Oh, I LOVE THIS! If only my Grammy was here so I could show her the pictures! She’s told me stories all my life about how her mother would make the most exquisite dresses and embroideries from feed sacks! In fact, every time school got out my Great-Grandmother would give each of her girls a length of material cut from the sacks and they had to do a Sampler every summer! It’s devastating to me that none of the early pieces are around anymore, but this made my awful day somewhat nicer!

  4. Dear Marie,
    Excellent, I love the way Jane embroidery, the choice of colors, points, a truly vibrant embroidery and embroidery on these old bags, but also give them a second chance.
    Well done!. Marie thank you for these photos all joyous.

  5. I never recall even seeing a fabric food sack in the grocery store. The ones I always see are plastic or paper, and we make jam all spring, so if there were fabric sacks available we would be getting them instead of the 25 pound paper ones. Hm. I do love her sugar sack, though I wonder what was in the chicken sack. When I was taught to embroider in the 4th grade, the teacher provided us with a section of a rice sack made of canvas to use. Her family, friends and neighbors always gave them to her so she always had plenty. They did have printing on them, we just embroidered on the blank side, but it was just writing, nothing lovely like plants or chickens. Lovely embroidery Jane, thanks for sharing! 🙂

    1. Thanks RMW. A bit of information; the late 1940’s were the end of the era of MOST retail fabric bags although I believe grass and agricultural seeds continued to be sold in coarse sacking. The chicken sack which Mary has so kindly published here contained feed for finishing frying chickens I have rabbit, dog, horse and pig feed sacks and even calf starter. These have the name of the large company or local mill who manufactured the product printed with the contents and picture right on the bag. With the housewife in mind the ink was made to be removed by soaking and boiling. The lovely old feed sack towels were produced that way. Sacks with all over patterns that are the stuff of legends of quilts and feed sack clothing had a paper label pasted on or a tag sewn in the seam so all the fabric could be used.

  6. Oh goodness – what a good idea. I can totally see making squares of this for our “grandma quilt” project. Hmmmmm….. the possibilities.
    The chickens! Oh! The chickens! Must see more of those chickens!! I love, love, LOVE her stitching on them!!
    Thanks for sharing Mary.

  7. Jane’s work is fantastic, what’s with this “primitive”? Who would label such work as that? It is creative and inventive and executed in a very skilled manner! Impressive, I say!

    1. LOL! Sorry! I should have explained – though I’m sure Jane knows what I mean, because she used the word herself. It’s not an insult. “Primitive” is a design style – you’ll see it in embroidery, drawing, decor, etc. It’s rustic, rural, farmy. If you look up “primitive embroidery” you can see examples of it.

  8. Fantastic work, Jane. I love your creativity. Great to see your chicken and rooster develop personality with different stitches.
    And Mary, your family holidays must be a little of how our’s used to be. The kids joked they deserved a “family medal” just for taking part – and surviving. There was the time the run-away horse almost tore through our tent; the time I forgot to take…..

  9. This brought back good memories – when I was a kid I wore feed sacks as slips and slept on them as pillowcases. Haven’t seen one in years so it’s nice to know they’re still available.

  10. Absolutely lovely! keep up the good work of reusing these sacks. They are functional beautiful and nostalgic. I should try sometime, (sigh) never enough time for everything! Anyway god job!

  11. Jane has done some lovely work. There is actually quite a tradition of stitching over flour sacks, as I found out when I cross-stitched over a burlap “Cream of the West” flour sack. I wrote about it on my blog here:
    and there is a large collection of them in the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library of all places!

  12. Thank you very much for the links Heather .Marie always discusses interesting things for me to work on food bags of this kind is really typical Americans, we do not have that kind in France. Thank you to both.

  13. What a surprise to see my feed sacks on Needle & Thread…..The chickens printed on the “Wonderfat” bag are identical hens and that’s just too boring so I attempted to portray various breeds of chickens, including roosters. They’re awaiting seed beed eyes.

    During the Great War grain, flour and other relief supplies were sent to the people of Belgium who responded by embroidering, repurposing and otherwise fancifully embellishing the printed sacks that had contained the staples and returning them to donors in the USA. Heather Cameron has provided a link below to one site where some of this historic needlework may be see.

    I was inspired to begin embroidering sacks simply to preserve wonderful, but fading, graphics on old feed, seed, flour, salt bags.

    Jane H. aka The Green Heron

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