Last fall I found several old grain sacks at Madison, Indiana’s River West Antique Mall. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular that day – “just browsing, thanks.” Normally I don’t gravitate to farmhouse decor unless objects actually came from the old farms or homesteads of our family. But these well-worn sacks spoke to me. “We would make awesome kitchen aprons for your friends,” they whispered. It’s like they knew me…

Ken has a heavy denim cook’s apron that he dons occasionally when using his “high splatter” cooking techniques. Mostly when he’s making his favorite sauces from New York City, Patsy’s Marinara or Rao’s Italian Sausage Sauce, both of which are amazing. His apron is a classic one-size-fits-all and ties in the back – perfect for a pattern for my Christmas gifts project!

I cut off each bag’s bottom seam, then cut the back of each bag from top to bottom to create a square of fabric with the printed design in the center.

After ironing the opened bag flat, I traced the pattern onto the fabric. Some bags were wider or longer than others, but I just worked with what I had. The apron “top” where I attached the neck loop was cut the same on all.

I really liked this red, white & blue Indiana Farm Bureau Cooperative bag, but I needed to do something extra to incorporate its two patches into the design. They looked like “mouse gnawing” remedies to me, so I made a sketch of a design I thought fitting. A little applique, a little embroidery. One mouse back & tail on one patch, one mouse head with whiskers, 3-D ears & button eyes on the other. #grainsackhumor

There were so many great fabric choices at L&L Yard Goods. I was fortunate to find cotton fabrics I felt complemented the sack colors.These fabrics would not only line the body of the apron, but would make the waistline ties and neck loop at the top.

I chose the faded blue & yellow Indiana Corn Growers bag for my friend Hilary’s apron. She may live in New York, but she’s Indiana grown! And she’s my canning buddy, so the jar motif fabric was all her.

I chose the Crow’s Seed Corn bag for my friend Georgie’s apron. She has the cutest shotgun house in downtown Madison. She calls it “The Crafter’s Cottage.” Her vintage kitchen is darling with it’s reproduction stove, open wood shelving and painted table and chairs for two. The vintage print was just right for her.

I chose the Indiana Farm Bureau “mouse apron” for my cousin Julie. I knew she’d get a kick out of it.

Julie wears an apron EVERY DAY! Her family owns The Attic/Coffee Mill Cafe on Madison’s Main Street, and she’s always busy preparing much of the wonderful food they serve. Right now during the covid-19 pandemic, she sports a mask every day as well as her apron. I’m happy get to see her when I pick up a carryout lunch order!

As communities carefully begin to reopen, you might enjoy a bit of a wander through an antique shop or mall near you. If you should happen upon a grain sack, listen carefully as you pass. It may well invite you to make to make an apron for a friend, too!

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One thing that makes my journey unique is that all of my interests are driven by a joyful and genuine curiosity. I delight in finding less expensive ways to make something or creative ways to enjoy something longer. Finding and creating joy - and sharing it - is core to who I am.