Friday, February 20, 2009

3 Fine Grains - High-End Antique Originals

Since my last post on Antique Grain Sacks, I have had an overwhelming amount of emails and interest in antique linens. Like all antiques there are levels of uniqueness, rarity and therefore of value. Most of the textiles I featured were plain striped sacks, but I have learned about another world of textiles: the very high end, elite textiles! These are printed grain sacks with writing and even more unique, those with pictures of wreaths, horses or crowns. These grain sacks are quite rare and, of course, very valuable. Owning one is like investing in a precious piece of art, one with a unique history.
Since the mention in The Washington Post, I had the great personal fortune to connect and speak with Textile Artist and Interior Designer, Kymberley Fraser of 3 Fine Grains. Kymberley collects, restores and re fabricates these very rare vintage sacks into "Authenticated Originals". Kymberley explained that she has always had a passion for antique textiles, and as a result she has developed a true respect for these linens as historical antiques. She believes if her well preserved pieces could speak; they could tell amazing stories of people's lives in times past. Like any other reputable and knowledgeable dealer, Kymberley has been collecting for many years. She recently began designing these linens in to pillows and reupholstering them on to classic antique chairs and ottomans to create one of kind pieces of furniture.

Let's review some attributes of these rare linens and how to tell if its an original.
These textiles, on average are 100 years old. All are hand woven, made of pure hemp linen. The weave is generally a herringbone. Most originals have darns, or hand patched holes and staining. The chairs above both have pictures, as well as printing, which add to their value.
The horse symbol is very rare. This vanity or desk chair is made out of a very rare German grain sack from 1907. Notice the patching on the bottom right corner. Sadly this item is already sold, but Kymberley will do custom orders.
These rare Horse sacks above are stamped on both sides and are from 1909. Kymberley was able to locate four of these very rare sacks; wouldn't they look wonderful upholstered or slipcovered for dining room chairs! Here are examples of Laurel Wreaths from 1862, 1869 and 1898. The addition of the wreath adds significantly to the value of the piece. Notice the wonderful nubby weave and patching on them.
Extremely sought after and collectible are the very rare "Crown" sacks. This one, from 1862, was made into an ottoman. It's so charming, with nail heads around the base and ebony turned legs. Here are some lovely examples of Laurel Wreathing and Vines. I especially love the chair - what a wonderful piece of history beautifully preserved. Here is a kidney sized pillow from 1902 with a unique nautical print. Wouldn't this look fabulous in beach house?
These are examples of Puy Lentil sacks from the early 1900's made from jute. The Train sack is from Friesland which is a province in the Netherlands, while the Stork sack is from France. Rare and beautiful!
Above are two extremely rare sacks. Not very often are two sacks from the same farmer at the same time, still preserved and available. These are #2 and #5 - If you see two sacks that are identical beware! Sadly, like any other hot antique, fakes are starting to enter this market.

Kymberley guarantees that the integrity of her textiles and the printing are original and none are modern reproductions. When you are buying these special printed antiques sacks you need to ask, is it the sack that is antique or is the printing a modern reproduction on an antique sack? Here are some tips from Kymberley: Check that the sacks are not too perfect, have imperfections in the weave, or patching; also make sure the printing is not too bold or uniform. All are signs of reproductions.Another very rare sack from Kimberley has printing and stripes. This one is original, but you may start to see this type of fake, as well. They are taking real antique stripe sacks, which are inexpensive in comparison, and stamping them with modern printing in an antique style. So buyer beware and buy only from reputable dealers.
Of course these textiles are "green" - 100% pure organic hemp linen and tar based printing, made before "green" was even a concern or "in vogue". Kymberley's pillows range in price from $250 to $500 dollars. Her furniture and pillows are available in CA at Bungalow Antiques in Agoura Hills, and on line. Thanks Kymberley for giving us a lesson in these rare and timeless linens!


  1. I really enjoyed your post...I definitely learned something new. That's what I adore about "blog-world", a wealth of information.

  2. Thanks for the informative post. Makes me want one. I think I'd be afraid to sit on it. I have a beautiful red striped feed sack that has initials cross stitched onto it. I'm afraid to even cut it to make it into something. So, it just sits in a pile on my sewing table. It's really heavy, I'm not sure if it's hemp or burlap or what. I'm loving them all, that's for sure!

  3. So beautiful! What a real treasure to own a beautiful billow or slipcover.

  4. Hi, I just came across your blog and I'm glad I did. I love the beautiful swedish decor of your home. There is something about the pale and muted colors that sooth. I just can't get enough. Thank you for sharing.


  5. Gina! How gorgeous are these?! What a treat, both to the eye and for the knowledge! Thanks so much for all this information and beautiful photos! I'm off to the website to see more :)
    Hope you had a great time skiing!
    xo Isa

  6. What a wonderful post!!!
    The pillows are stunning.
    Thanks for sharing and congrats on your Washington Post mention...
    most deserving!

  7. LOVE your blog! I too love vintage grain sacks and am lucky to own a few. What's not to love about them...wonderful texture, gorgeous colors and great graphics.

  8. Thank you for the thorough coverage of this genre of textile. We recently chose a large German sack from the stash of my favorite antique dealer, Installations Antiques, here in Houston. He is having it made into two pillows for our leather sofa at our Arts & Crafts Bungalow. We can't wait.

    Congratulations on the Washington Post feature! That's how I found you.

  9. Very interesting post! Ever since your original post, I feel like I have been seeing sack related textiles all over the place. They are not really my style, but I have a much greater appreciation for them after reading your posts!

  10. just found your blog and I can't wait to read more! I also LOVE love love the gustavian style! I wrote a (small) blurb about it on my blog (

  11. This post is divine! Love the lesson. oooo...The ottoman is simply beautiful. I could get into LOTS of trouble at her store.

    Thank you ~Miss Kris~

  12. Hello! I just found your blog today, and I must admit I'm in love. I just visited every single page, and I'm in need of more. :) I hope you don't mind, but I posted about you today, and you may have some extra visitors! They're good people--really! :)

  13. I might need to retire my zebra pillows and replace them with these!!! hmmmm.. food for thought.
    congrats on the Wash POst - much deserved! your blog is always so beautiful!

  14. These old grain sacks are just beautiful and who would've believed the things you can create using these? Have a nice Tuesday!

  15. J'adore l'idée de refaire des sièges et coussins avec des vieux sacs, c'est vraiment génial!!!!


    Ps: ton blog est très intéressant!

  16. Very interesting!

    Love/ Mariette

  17. what a lovely post!!! your photos are beautiful

  18. What wonderful fabrics and such a fascinating history to know and understand. I shall never take these linens for granted again, xv.

  19. Not to sure about the feed bag look or feel.. I wish I could be more adventureous..that's why I'm here.

  20. i love the idea, and the look.
    it's brilliant.

    my mother got some of these sacks , she was going to do the same thing.
    the sacks that she showed me were so incredibly itchy.

    i know the sacks in your post must be softer than hers !

  21. The textiles from Kym are all almost 100 years old. They have been used and washed, reused and washed. The fabrics are actually very soft. And, the fabrics are so durable! You may try washing yours and adding a tiny bit of fabric softener.

  22. Thanks for the post! I purchased two identical feed sacks from the Country Living fair last year, from a French antique dealer. Your mention on fakes scares the crap out of me, though. I paid 300 for the both, they wanted 165 for each. Anyway, mine are more like burlap, very rough. They sure smell old though. I noticed that there is printing on the outside and then printing on the inside opposing side. I hope that doesn't indicate fake, I was thinking wow, 4 pillows, or the backs of 4 dining chairs. I must investigate further.

  23. Hi to all textile lovers! A quick note on my experience with washing vintage feed sacks etc. I almost always have purchased mine in unwashed condition. I ususally pre wash before starting any upholstry project so I will know how the fabric will hold up. Wash on gentle with oxyclean or woolite. If the dye is going to run you will know right away. The worst bleeding seems to be red. I then dry on the gentle, low heat cycle and press right from the dryer while damp. If the fabric stays in pretty good shape I will sometime wash it again. Hemp and burlap also benefit from some fabric softener. I have had a few items bleed alot but have always found a use for them and sometimes the runny dye can add to the beauty and interest of the fabric.

    warmest regards, Kelley +*+*+*

  24. #2 and #5 are coming to live with me. Kymberley is so sweet and loves her merchandise. No doubt she will do well.



  25. Long On Style:
    I spoke to Kymberley Fraser and here is what she said: Hello, not to worry! It sounds to me like you purchased vintage French grain sacks, that is exactly what I would expect! Sometimes these French sacks are not printed on the inside also, and only on the outside, again exactly what I would expect!~ The French printed Vintage sacks are printed more on Burlap, hessian type of fabric and were not printed on the heavy hemp herringbone fabric like the German sacks. The reproduced textiles that I was describing tend to be the German printed sacks, not the French. Often designers will reproduce the antique designs, but I wouldn’t expect to find the reproductions at Antiques fairs or from reputable antique textile dealer, I would only be cautious when purchasing form a design showroom or similar! Some designers describe their pillows as antique grain sack pillows, however forget to mention that the printing is a modern reproduction, so I would simply ask the designer first!

    CARE OF TEXTILES: To get a comprehensive overview of the care of textiles please refer to

  26. Hi I just found your blog and I love it!! I am from Westboro Mass, my husband is actually from Wellesley. Anyway I love the grain sacks too and have been trying to find some for resale. I recently rented a space in Concord Ma but moved due to high rent. I moved over to Sterling at the Cider Mill AKA Oh My Gosh Antiques. I share a large room with my friend Amy. Our shop names are Antique Therapy and Thistlebees. We are having an Open House on March 15, from 12-5. I also have a blog where I have posted the details. I would love to switch links with you too!! It's so nice to see another antique blog from Mass. There aren't to many of them. My blog is Come on by and say hi!! Would love to meet you!! Happy hunting!! Keri

  27. Great post, These are the most beautiful I've seen yet! The one with the ruffles is lovely, im going over to check out the store now. Thanks for sharing.

  28. This post just really inspired me!

    I've linked you to my Funky Junk Interiors blog. Please let me know if you have any reservations about me doing so.


    Donna at FJI

  29. wow wondeful pillows....want them all..hug E

  30. wow wondeful pillows....want them all..hug E

  31. Thank you so much for sharing! I love those gorgeous pillows, I am so glad that I found your blog.

  32. I am so happy to found your blog, I am ever so impressed, what we can create with these all so unique handloomed fabrics. I am an antique dealer from Austria, and we are having so many grain sacks, under you can make a look to my sacks.
    It is an obession to work with these amazing hemp linen fabrics, isn ít?

  33. Just yesterday I was on this site inquiring about the antique vellum books. Everything is amazing. Thanks for the post Gina!

  34. hello i just love your products and if it is ok i placed a post about it on my blog hope thats ok
    sencere greetings myrna

  35. The pillows are amazing! Just so pleasing to the eye... Love them!

  36. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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