My mother-in-law, Grandma Lackey, is a keeper. Almost everything in her home has a story – the furniture, the dishes, the bedding, the nick nacks. Even her canning jars have a genealogy. So, last summer, when it was time to gather my husband’s siblings together for a good barn cleaning, the stories began to surface along with the contents of every box.
Many of the boxes had come from her mother’s farm. Some contents had not seen the light of day for decades. And although it was hot, and the aim was to get rid of some things, Grandma Lackey sat in the center of the barn and directed.
In the end it was as much a redistribution of goods than a “cleaning”. We all went home with a trunk load of goodies. My inheritance was a pile of unwashed feed sacks and dish towels. Everyone assured me I could “do something” with them.
The pile sat in our garage until a few weeks ago, when I decided to throw them all in the wash and see what happened. Many were still stained and some had “age spots” that wouldn’t budge, but some offered definite potential for farm style aprons.
For the first apron, I took the printed sections of a Morton Salt sack to use as pockets on a striped utility apron. The striped fabric came from a pile of home decorating IKEA fabric that my son gave me for my birthday a few years back. It is very functional with the large pocket across the bottom. But, I saved the best part of the salt sack – the circular section – for a girlier apron.
I appliquéd the design onto a French blue damask fabric and put a light pleat on each side and then made a bottom ruffle and long sash ties from a bright red smaller damask print cotton.
On to the next sack! This was getting fun! The second Morton sack in good condition was laid out a little differently. I wanted to maintain the striping on either side of the salt emblem, so I went with another full apron style – this time using another IKEA utility weight fabric in classic red and white checks. I added a D-ring to the neck strap to make this one a little more adjustable.
The next sack presented double the possibilities. An elongated seed sack from the Coloumus, Ohio Livingston True Blue Seed Company featured the same design inverted on either end of the bag. A little research into the a Livingston Seed Company convinced me that although there were a little spots on this bag, it was a special Ohio treasure. Alexander W. Livingston (1821-1898) improved and stabilized the wild tomato for commercial use. Livingston’s True Blue Seeds were nationally recognized as highest quality. I wanted to use the whole bag, and cut it down the center, giving me two identical bags which would become center pockets on high quality cream linen apron fronts. To compliment the French blue of the Livingston emblem, I used more of the damask fabric for a bottom ruffle and long side ties that could wrap around for a front bow. Finally, I decided to used a bit of the valuable Cath Kidston fabric that I brought home from our trip to a England this fall. When I discovered my first Cath Kidston store, my husband couldn’t get me out of the place. I was thrilled to discover that her gorgeous floral prints could be purchased, and I brought home a little bundle of fat quarters and some tiny cloth covered buttons to match. This apron project seemed the perfect place to showcase these beautiful feminine prints. I made two florets from the Cath Kidston fabric, and one to pick up the blue from the ruffle and sashes, and sewed a button in the center of each flower.
Next up, a faded but still readable Domino Cane Sugar sack. This sack has horizontal red and blue stripes stripes on top and button, but as I carried it around Joann Fabrics, I was drawn to a light peachy print and complimentary light blue floral for this full length bib style apron. I made a small ruffle from the blue to attach to the base of the bag before sewing it to the peach skirt as a center pocket. The arm edges of the blue bib encase the continuous neck and side sides in this adjustable apron. Another fabric flower of the two cotton prints pops with the addition of a third bright coral fabric. This one turned out soft, feminine and functional.
I had used up most of the unstained, readable bags, but I still had a pile of nice linen tea towels. After some trial and error, I decided to use a full horizontal towel, rounded on the sides to accommodate a full blue and red ruffle around. I decided to add a pocket of the same fabric and trimmed the pocket with a length of antique red and blue print seam binding inherit from my grandmother that I have been saving for a special project. My grandmother taught me to sew – both on a machine and to make fancy hand embroidery stitches by hand. I lined the towel with 100% linen to give it a little more stability.
I call these Lackey Sack aprons to honor the legacy of my husband’s ancestors who have farmed in Ohio for five generations. In fact, these feed sacks originated on Lackey Road in Delaware County where my mother-in-law raised chickens!