Thrift Style

NEW!

Thrift Style explores the reuse of feed sacks to make clothing and other household objects and illuminates how the “upcycling” of these bags mutually benefitted twentieth-century consumers and businesses. With forty-one works from patterns to garments, it serves as an example of past ingenuity that can inform today’s efforts towards sustainability.

The exhibition, organized by the Historic Costume and Textile Museum of Kansas State University, provides a nostalgic view into American ingenuity, sensibility, and optimism during a particularly challenging time of economic hardship and war—the period of the Great Depression and World War II. The reuse of feed, flour, and sugar sacks was a cost-saving and resource-saving approach employed by homemakers to make new items to meet their families’ needs.

In the 1920s and ‘30s, manufacturers began producing patterned and colored feed sacks to give home seamstresses more options. During World War II, the federal government limited fabric use for individual garments and homemakers were obligated to use thrifty approaches to repurpose what was available to them. As fabrics from feed sacks were not considered a limited resource, women turned to them as an accessible and patriotic option during the war effort. In response, trade organizations and manufacturers promoted the thrifty use of feed sack fabric by publishing how-to brochures and booklets with clothing designs, mending instructions, and other suggestions for restyling clothes.

The artifacts in the exhibition demonstrate a mutual goal of sustainability, with local businesses—mills and feed and seed operations—tailoring product design and marketing campaigns to attract customers; and consumers using their imaginations and practical skills to tailor clothing, aprons, quilts, dolls, and more out of the industry’s byproduct: feed sack cotton.

This exhibition offers a snapshot of domestic life during this time, when recycling was as critical as it is today, and it provides one of the best examples of upcycling in our nation’s history.

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Tour Schedule

Thrift Style is touring May 2020 through April 2025. The dates below reflect five-week exhibition periods. Dates are subject to change; please contact MoreArt@maaa.org or (800) 473-3872 x208/209 for current availability.

  • May 15–August 16, 2020 Irving Archives & Museum
    Irving, TX
    pending
  • September 1–October 5, 2020 West Baton Rouge Museum
    Baton Rouge, LA
    pending
  • October 21–November 30, 2020 Northern State University
    Aberdeen, SD
    pending
  • December 15, 2020–January 19, 2021 Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum
    Temple, TX
    pending
  • February 3–April 30, 2021 Kalamazoo Valley Museum
    Kalamazoo, MI
    pending
  • May 15–June 20, 2021 Rochester Central Library
    Rochester, NY
    pending
  • July 5–August 16, 2021 Living History Farms
    Urbandale, IA
    pending
  • September 1–October 5, 2021 Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center
    Enid, OK
    pending
  • October 21–November 30, 2021 American Museum of Science and Energy
    Oak Ridge, TN
    pending
  • December 15, 2021–January 19, 2022
    available
  • February 3–March 10, 2022
    available
  • March 25–April 30, 2022
    available
  • May 15–June 20, 2022
    available
  • July 5–August 16, 2022
    available
  • September 1–October 5, 2022 Refurbishment
    Kansas City, MO
    booked
  • October 21–November 30, 2022
    available
  • December 15, 2022–January 19, 2023
    available
  • February 3–March 10, 2023
    available
  • March 25–April 30, 2023
    available
  • May 15–August 16, 2023 Upcountry History Museum
    Greenville, SC
    pending
  • September 1–October 5, 2023
    available
  • October 21–November 30, 2023
    available
  • December 15, 2023–January 19, 2024
    available
  • February 3–March 10, 2024
    available
  • March 25–April 30, 2024
    available
  • May 15–June 20, 2024
    available
  • July 5–August 16, 2024
    available
  • September 1–October 5, 2024
    available
  • October 21–November 30, 2024
    available
  • December 15, 2024–January 19, 2025
    available
  • February 3–March 10, 2025
    available
  • March 25–April 30, 2025 Louisiana's Old State Capitol
    Baton Rouge, LA
    pending

Exhibition Details

Fee Includes
Press Kit
Registrar’s Packet
Programming Guide
Gallery Guide
Text Panels
Narrative Labels
Full Insurance
Installation Instructions
Custom-Designed and Built Crates

  • Content

    forty-one works

  • Curated By

  • Organized By

    Historic Costume and Textile Museum of Kansas State University

  • Out-of-Region Rental Fee

    $4,200

  • In-Region Rental Fee

    $2,940

  • Duration

    5-week display

  • Shipping

    Van Line

  • Running Feet

    165

  • Square Feet

    TBD

  • Security

    Moderate A

  • Number of Crates/Total Weight

    five estimated

  • Insurance

    The exhibition is fully insured by ExhibitsUSA at no additional expense to you, both while installed and during transit.