My latest obsession…antique grain sacks! Yes, I’m talking about common everyday, feedsacks! For any number of projects, one-of-a-kind grain sacks (or feedsacks) may be used as fabric for upholstery, slipcovers, pillows, sachets, table runners, framed art and much more! I love the idea of repurposing something that was used in a utilitarian way years ago.
The cost of grain sacks vary greatly depending on a number of things: place of origin, condition, fabric and color. American grains sacks tend to be the least expensive and obviously more available here in the U.S. Grain sacks may be made of cotton in various ‘weights’ from thin to thick – muslin and cotton duck, burlap, hemp and premier linen. The thin grain sacks are typically more graphic and the graphics are often dyed and/or woven into the fabric. The downside to these is that the dye fades (not color fast) and sometimes runs off entirely…especially red, when you wash them! After all, they were used as grain sacks.
Heavier grain sacks can be tough on scissors and the sewing machine, but is hard-wearing and more desirable for upholstery. The natural flax color make them easy to color-coordinate in the home too. Wonderfully monogrammed and stenciled grain sacks – that is, the more graphics, since many were used for advertising – are highly sought after and are generally more expensive. Some are often patched from wear and dated making them one-of-a-kind find!
I must confess, I would love to have an antique grain sack, but I simply can’t afford (or justify) the purchase of such a beauty! Dream on. If your budget allows, there are many resources to purchase grain sacks on the web in addition to many decorating ‘uses’.
I thought I’d play a little, and try to make a faux grain sack covered footstool. I found a plain, sturdy footstool for $6 at the flea market. It had a solid plank wood ‘top’ and turned legs. I began by cleaning and sanding the footstool to prepare it for painting.
I decided to paint my footstool for this project. I used an acrylic, satin black enamel…assuming black goes with everything. I applied two coats and sanded lightly between each coat for better paint adhesion. I carefully sanded the final coat to allow a bit of wear to show through…ya know, the prim, antique look. Finally, I finished the footstool with a coat of tinted wax.
Now, for the ‘upholstered’ grain sack top…I used a piece of cotton duck material (leftovers from when I painted floor cloths!). I cut the fabric several inches larger than the base I wanted to cover – allowing for the foam and batting. I ironed the cotton to remove any wrinkles before painting on my black stripes, using black acrylic paint and masking tape.
I decided to use a ‘free’ sheep (what else?) graphic from The Graphics Fairy. I applied it to an iron-on transfer (available at any craft store) which I centered between the faux ‘stripes’, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
I hand-painted the classic ‘wreath’ around the sheep graphic, but you could also use a decorative stencil. I’m still undecided if I want to add a monogram or date to my faux grain sack???
Here’s the finished ‘AFTER’ footstool (with or without monogram…hmmmm?)
It was a fun and affordable project. I have another grain sack footstool in the works – this one decidedly more French! Then, a few large faux grain sack pillows perhaps with more graphics as I become more brave in this endeavor?!
Have a happy weekend!