She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness. She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.
- Proverbs 31:27-28
Years ago, you could get feedbags made of cotton. They came in bright colors and pretty patterns. Believe me when I say they were beautiful.
You could not go to the department stores and buy anything like it and you certainly couldn’t beat the price. My grandmother Dameron would buy these bags for ten cents each. Sometimes she could get only one of a kind, but most of the time she could get many of one pattern.
She took them apart and washed them and they were as soft as – well - cotton. She made a variety of things from them. I remember tablecloths, curtains, aprons, daybed covers, pillow covers and dresses for me.
With the scraps she made quilts and doll clothes. She let me help when she made the doll clothes. Despite that very happy experience I am not a happy sewer. It is just not something I enjoy. It is something I do to repair something.
There is always an exception to the rule and the exception in this case is quilting. A friend, Thelma Godwin, taught a group of us how to do a rag quilt and to my surprise I found I enjoy rag quilting.
Once my grandmother made me a dress of the feedbag material with a check pattern. The checks were two shades of red, one dark and one light. I thought it was absolutely beautiful. I went to school that day so proud of my new dress.
That afternoon when I got back to my grandmother’s house, I went around to the back door. Coming through the porch and into the kitchen, I froze. There on my grandmother’s kitchen window were curtains made from the same material as my dress. I was mortified.
Can you imagine me and the kitchen curtains blending together? I could just see our family sitting around the table with the curtains and me very noticeably the same. Or worse still friends and neighbors visiting and seeing that my dress and the kitchen curtains were a matching set. It was just more than I could stand.
When I tried to explain it to my grandmother she was very much opposed to my attitude. She had worked hard on both and did not want to get rid of either the curtains or the dress. It was a constant battle from that day on over wearing the dress.
I absolutely felt like I could not hold up my head and wear that dress. Grandmother felt she had worked hard to make me a very pretty dress and it shouldn’t go to waste. We finally worked things out. She took down the curtains until I outgrew the dress. It satisfied me and grandmother recycled it into a curtain for the door when I outgrew it.
I wish they still had those feedbags. It was just one of the perks of life then. Like many other things, feedbags have gone through quite a change. You sure wouldn’t make a dress from the ones I see now.
My grandmother Dameron was very much like the woman in Proverbs 31. She didn’t have much money to work with, but she used every penny wisely.
She planted her garden in the spring and canned for the winter months. Sometimes she helped friends in hog killing time and brought home meat. She bought feedbags and made the extra things she wanted for her home, for me and my dolls. She made soap for bathing and soap for washing clothes.
The things she did left money to buy the extras. She was a wise woman who cared for her household with kindness and love. May we all do the same.
Sylvia Hughes is a longtime Sunday School and women’s Bible study teacher, and a retired newspaper editor. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.