During the hayday of flour milling in the United States, Minneapolis was re-named the "Flour Milling City of the World." Along the rumbling Mississippi River companies still known today like Gold Medal Flour and Pillsbury had their milling factories in full swing. After nearly 30 years as the top Flour Milling City, the industry started to move on with the advent of World War I. But what it left behind were a variety of products that have been reused and recycled throughout society ever since. The most recognizable amongst them being the old flour sack towels found in kitchens across the World.
After the flour milling days were over, the sacks were transformed into bedding, clothes, and towels by innovative individuals. The flour sacks can actually replace a great many things in your house including kitchen towels, baby diapers, and dusting cloths.
Since their abundance during post-mill days, thrifty and creative individuals have been embroidering, block printing, and re-purposing these sacks into stylish and fun towels. Today, there are websites offering personalization, iron-on designs, and other ways to create personalized gifts out of this industrial age invention.
You can find the original towels at Garage Sales across the nation, especially in the Northern Midwest, for less than $1. These towels have become so popular in households, that companies like Williams Sonoma, Crate & Barrel, Target
and other major retailers are actually making new towels. You can scrounge the sales for vintage cloths or purchase them in bulk at a local retailer.
Since the late 1800s, these towels have proved their worth. Original towels are still in circulation, so it is safe to say they are durable. The flour sack towels do not pill easily, can be bleached, and have withstood hand and machine washing for over a century.
These towels can also help you create what we've called the paper towel-less kitchen
. The flour sacks have had a very practical path from bags to towels, bedding, and diapers but something tells me it isn't over yet.
So what will you do with your vintage flour sack towels?
(Image: Modern Artisans)