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Exploring the history behind Iowa's feed sacks and quilts

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Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

In the early part of the 20th century all kinds of necessary products were sold in cotton sacks. Flour, rice, seeds, sugar, cornmeal and resourceful women who lived on farms made use of that fabric. The ethic was waste not, want not.

It didn’t take long for companies that sold these products to realize that they could gain a sales edge by dying that fabric, first in solid colors and later by creating attractive prints. Although most of the clothing made out of feed sacks is long gone, this frugal fabric lives on in quilts that were created in the 1930s and 1940s.

Historian Michael Zahs, who you may remember from the award winning documentary “Saving Brinton” has an extraordinary collection of feed sack quilts and his collection is on display at the Kalona Historical Society through Tuesday February 1st.

Host Charity Nebbe visited Zahs at the Kalona Historical Society for a tour of the collection.

Later, figure skaters Timothy LeDuc and Ashley Caine-Gribble join Nebbe to discuss being crowned U.S. champions in pairs figure skating in January. They will compete in the 2022 winter Olympics in Beijing in February. LeDuc is originally from Cedar Rapids and is the first openly non-binary person to compete for the U.S. in the winter Olympics.


  • Michael Zahs, historian based in Washington County
  • Timothy LeDuc, professional figure skater and member of the 2022 U.S. winter Olympic team
  • Ashley Cain-Gribble, professional figure skater and member of the 2022 U.S. winter Olympic team
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Rick Brewer was a producer for IPR's Talk of Iowa and River to River