In the late 1800's feed sacks, flour sacks and, sugar sacks replaced barrels for packing feed and flour and sugar. Since our ancestors had to be frugal to survive the sacks were used to make many necessity items such as quilt blocks, aprons, house dresses and even underwear- for both men and women.
The fabric of these sacks were sometimes called "chicken linen" as chicken feed often came in this type of sack. The size of the sacks varied greatly from 5 lb bags to bags that were 5 or more feet long for picking cotton.
Many types of homemade solutions were used to try to remove the advertising labels from these sacks without much success- eventually most people stopped trying to remove the labels and used them as they were.
Feed sacks were still in limited use as late as the 1950's- today they are highly collectible.
Photos courtesy of Fabrics.net