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What's the Big Deal about Flour Sack Towels? (And How to Spot an Imposter)

Posted by Sydney C de Baca on

Have you ever seen anyone swoon at the mention of flour sack tea towels?  What's the big deal about flour sack tea towels?

If you've never dried your dishes with one you may have felt a bit puzzled.  What's their history, and why do they inspire such loyalty?  

In the 19th and early 20th century, flour, sugar, salt, and animal feed were sold in 100% cotton sacks.  For the first three, the cotton was quite fine, densely woven, and had a special weave.  People quickly realized that this luscious fabric could be used for countless other things from dish towels and pillow cases to clothes: shirts, skirts, and dresses.  Since I started selling towels, people telling me stories of these much loved items has been one of the most touching surprises.  

[Let it be known that despite some claims that Americans used animal feed sacks, given their much coarser fabric and looser weave, this is highly unlikely. And no one has ever told me about anything made from animal feed sacks.]

While flour is no longer sold in sacks, a few mills still make the traditional material.  However forewarned is forearmed:  

There are imposters out there! 

I've seen countless towels sold as flour sack that aren't.  

How can you tell if you've got the real mccoy?  

Here's the secret:  
Look for the diagonal weave.  It's subtle, but hold the towel up to the light and tilt the fabric until you can see it.  The mill won't tell me how they do this, but it's the secret to true flour sack.  

So if you see something that looks like gauze and/or has no diagonal weave, it's an imposter.  Flour sack's magic isn't just the 100% cotton, but this diagonal aspect that increases the surface area and gives these towels their drying superpower.  

I wrote to many, many factories for samples before I found the real thing.  When you treat a friend or yourself to one of Chavah's Garden flour sack towels, I guarantee that you are getting genuine flour sack that will make drying dishes or even your hands a sheer joy, to say nothing of the years of cheer it will bring to your kitchen!  

 


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