April 2021 – The Search for Sunbonnet Sue

From Pinterest

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/378091331188046869/

She wasn’t hard to find.

The reason I went looking for her story is that I had seen a quilt recently made by a guild member and I wondered about the bonneted girl. I knew she had been around awhile – although she carries her age so very gracefully – but who actually invented her as a quilt block? She is a woman of mystery, it would seem.

https://www.emblibrary.com/EL/elprojects/

Sunbonnet Sue even has has her own web site:  https://www.sunbonnetsue.com/sunbonnet-sue-pattern-page/.

I found the history blog of  Sunbonnet Sue at https://blog.accuquilt.com/uncategorized/sunbonnet-sue-woman-with-a-past  was rather funny.   [There were other sites that summarized her history in brief.]

One thing it did mention was the ”love/hate dichotomy” quilters have with Sunbonnet Sue.  I can relate to that. I was not instantly enchanted by her as a possible quilt design in my future.  But then I looked at all the variations (that is an important word in quilting) and began to see her charm.

From Accuquilt I downloaded Sunbonnet Sue and Overalls Sam patterns. Because the boys need equal time, I suppose. [Note: to download these patterns you need to submit your email address – and that can lead to a flood of emails you do not necessarily want, but you can access the link without joining].

From there I ventured into the history of cotton flour sacks of the 1930’s which had come to my attention during Michelle Banton’s talk about the Dresden Plate – and that is when I saw the Sunbonnet Sue flour bag in one of the photos she shared.

https://littlethings.com/family-and-parenting/flour-sack-dresses

The Sunbonnet Sue flour mill in Kansas realized during the Depression that women were making flour sacks into clothes – out of pure necessity –  and began printing designs on the sacks. Photos in following link.

https://www.thevintagenews.com/2019/02/22/flour-sack-dresses/

So now that I have the patterns (which will be appliqued onto a background fabric), I think I will have a go at making a Sunbonnet Sue of my own. My mom had bonnets for me wear, and I had bonnets for my daughters, along with the required dresses for photo shoots, family visits, and church on Sunday. But only when they were very little.  [I keep in my bureau drawer a sunbonnet worn many moons ago by my now 25-year-old grand-daughter.]  So, in a way, I can revisit those days with fabrics that remind me of clothes I made for us all. I was not of an age to use flour sacks – I don’t imagine any of us are! – but I did use cotton. My grandmothers may have used flour sacks, as I do remember the treadle sewing machine one grandmother had; but she never mentioned and I did not know to ask.

Another link for Sunbonnet Sue: 

https://www.with-heart-and-hands.com/2008/05/sunbonnet-sue.html 

for a poem  (perhaps song?)  and photos. The site says ‘free patterns’ but SOME of the links no longer work.  Scroll down the page past Sun-Bonnet Babies poem and you will see free patterns for embroidery, crochet and quilting. The poem is from 1907, about the time that Sue was brought into the world.

From TheCalamityHouse (ETSY)


From Accuquilt

Get to know this little girl. She is quite versatile and an early participant in the recycling programs in which most of us participate today (LOL).

And FYI – if you want a whole 60 pages on Sunbonnet Sue and Sunbonnet Babies, you can download from Annie’s e-Patterns Central at  e-patternscentral.com/ for $3.00. Sharing with you is prohibited, so you need to buy your own if you want lots of history, templates and instructions. Oh yes – and some ads!

Hers’s to Spring and all the good stuff that’s coming – finally!

March 31, 2021

shd