The Feed Sack Match Game

One of my favorite things about the kind of writing I do is meeting new people and hearing their stories. It happens during the interview process, but I also hear fabulous stories from folks who come up to me after I give a talk, or who contact me because of something I’ve written.

The latter happened recently, when I got an email from Pamela Shadle Flores, who works at the University of North Texas (UNT). She’s from a family of ranchers and farmers who lived in the Texas panhandle during the dust bowl and she’d always wondered whether the quilt she inherited (above) was sewn from feed sacks. Pamela learned about the feed sacks book from an interview I’d done in the with the UNT Libraries about using their Portal to Texas History in my research.

To her delight (and mine), she was able to match two fabrics in the quilt to those in the book. I asked if she’d send me photos and whether I could share them, and she agreed to both. It appears that many, if not all of the bow-ties are feed sack—they stand out so nicely against the solid fabrics.

I especially loved that she told me her husband and two teenagers were as excited as she was by the discovery. Teenagers are hard to impress! Thanks so much, Pamela, for sharing your story and these images.

Turkey Red

Yup, I’m still here—so is Pearl. As a matter of fact, I’ve got some ideas for reviving Pearl the Squirrel. But as the business of life intercedes, these remain mostly ideas.

One thing I’d like to do with this blog is share some of the intriguing textile-related things that pop up in my view. Today is an interesting video about Turkey Red. If you’re at all interested in textile history or quilt history, Turkey Red is a term that you’ve heard, but if you’re like me you don’t know much about it. Thanks to Karen Alexander’s post on the American Quilt Study Group Facebook page, I know a little more. She shared a link from the University of Glasgow’s Textile Conservation program, about PhD student Julie Wertz, who is applying her chemistry background to the study of Turkey Red.

The process to create Turkey Red fabrics was used in Glasgow (where Julie is studying) from the late 1700s to the 1930s. No one apparently knows how the process works chemically, just that it does. She’s created a lovely, super-short video to explain it simply, for those of us who glaze over at the word “chemistry.” Make sure to watch it til the end, where the magic happens.

(If you’re into it, she’s got two more videos, one about Prussian Blue and one about Chrome Yellow.)

And thanks for reading.