Saturday, December 17, 2016

Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, or Do Without

Hard Times Dance costume made from sacking, circa 1950.
Photo: Western Development Museum Collection, WDM-2009-S-316

In the 1930s Western Canada experienced a decade of drought and worldwide depression that forced thousands into a hand-to-mouth existence, scraping by to make ends meet. Ingenious mothers turned flour and sugar sacks into underwear, pajamas, shirts, and even dresses. Sacks were bleached and hung on clotheslines in the blazing sun to remove the offending labels. Still, many a child wore traces of Little John oats or Robin Hood flour on their back or bottom.
In the late 1940s Eleanor Wagner, from the Craven area, north of Regina, Saskatchewan, transformed rolled oats and flour sacks into mother-and-daughter costumes for a local Hard Times Dance at Kennell country school. Instead of removing the telltale evidence, she cleverly placed logos and printing to best advantage.

Read more: Narrative Threads

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