Tag Archives: Sunbonnet Sue

Sunbonnet Sue, Ex-UFO

19 Jun

The two sunbonnet quilts are now finished.

They didn’t turn out too badly.

One top finished.




Here it is on the frame ready to quilt.



Close up of quilting.


Quilting round figures.



The two quilts finished and bound.



Just the labels now. I have a few without labels so I will have to have a labelathon.

Details of pattern etc on my original blog.


Falling off the Carousel.

23 Sep

This is going to be one of those quilts I can’t even give away. It’s one of those that I know didn’t go right and every time I look at it I will remember. I have a rule that if I wouldn’t sell it (even if I wasn’t going to anyway) I can’t give it away so I guess this is what will be keeping my toes warm this winter.

The Whole Quilt Finally finished.

It was going beautifully. I had finished the applique and put it all together except for the outside pink border. I was even humming a little tune to myself. All was right with The World and then I looked at it again. I swear I heard the ‘Jaws’ music.

It wasn’t that I hadn’t done it as intended, just that my intended  layout was wrong. I had the horses upside down. Not a problem, you think. All I had to do was remove the panels and turn them round and away we go. That solution doesn’t take into account the use of the overlocker. I had to rip all the seams and then put them back together again. My nice neat straight seams were not as nice and neat as they had been.  So what – it looks OK you might say. If you are a quilter you will understand.

Never mind, all is not lost, I can still show you how it was done and enjoy warm toes in the Winter. That is if the Quilt Police don’t read this and send the Black Maria round post- haste.

I started with another quilt from my favourite Sunbonnet Sue series although I am not sure I don’t need a change now. You can definitely have too much Sunbonnet Sue although I have enjoyed meeting her and I am sure we will renew our acquaintance.  I liked the layout and even the colour scheme so decided to have a go.

The original quilt pattern layout.

In the same book there is a template/ patterns for an applique of a Sunbonnet Sue on a carousel horse. I thought this would look good on the layout without being quite so repetitive, even though there would still be eight similar appliques.

The Pattern

I decided that I could give the idea of a carousel top with the right pattern  and then add borders to continue the theme. I was quite proud of the finished block as piecing isn’t my forté. My points have a habit of not pointing.  They more sort of beckon. ( That should get me a few months sentence on fussy cutting from the QP). In fact I was so successful I might even have a go at a quilt with a few more in it.

The centre.

I then added the appliques, making sure I didn’t get the same colour adjacent either in horse or corner pieces.

If this looks strange it is because it was photographed sideways.

It was at the third border point that I realised my layout was badly wrong. I had the horses inwards, which would have looked very unimpressive. It only took me the rest of the day to remove and replace the panels. If they hadn’t been appliqued I would have started again. In fact, with hindsight  I would just have extracted the panels and wasted the rest It would certainly have been quicker. You can be sure I checked and double checked everything after that.

A detail before quilting.

I think I will have a few days off sewing now and do something else. I have a couple basted and ready to go  but as I don’t really like quilting I will go away and do something else till the mood takes me. My ambition is to have all my quilts professionally quilted but the cost puts me off.  Also I would think you need to know the quilter’s work quite well before entrusting hours of work to them. Maybe one day.

I have a whole area in my dungeon, full of porcelain dolls that need photographing and listing so I think I will spend a few days doing that- if I can actually get in to where they are in the first place. Then I need to do certificates for them as the ones I did before are no longer impressive. Modern software has definitely outclassed the package  I was using back in the dark ages. Mind you it’s only ever going to be as good as the user. At least it won’t be as disastrous as the quilt if my concentration slips.

A Boy Named Sue – Sunbonnet That Is

10 Sep

I posted a link to my last blog on Sunbonnet Sue on Quiltingboard.com. I was amazed at the response. Thousands, and I mean thousands of people came across to look. As you may have gathered from my very  first Sunbonnet blog I was not overkeen on the Sunbonnet genre. I did it because it was quick to do and quite restful and I could add a few extras in the way of accessories. Finding so many people interested in the two blogs I have become more interested myself. As a result I have done another quilt, this time featuring ‘Sue’ as a boy.  I am again assisted by the patterns by Suzanne Zaruba Cirillo from ‘Sunbonnet Sue and Scottie Too’  which is available from Amazon in USA and UK, although I suspect stocks must be getting low as we speak. I have been asked for the name of the book by more people than Amazon reckons to have books in stock. Perhaps now is the time to buy from your friendly independent local or online retailer.I wish I had a few copies  on my site.

In the last quilt from the book I used one of the suggested quilt arrangements but chose the blocks I thought went together best. In this one I have followed the ones chosen to go together in the book as they combine  perfectly. They depict ‘Sue’ camping with a spell in a hammock, cooking sausages over a fire, climbing a tree and going for a brisk walk assisted by a stout stick cut from a hazel hedge no doubt. In all activities he is accompanied by his faithful Scottie.

A Weekend in the Woods

When I was buying the book I got talking to another customer.  She had made one of the redwork versions for her grandson but, not liking the dog she left him out. Unfortunately, rather than marvelling at the wonderful quilt his grandma had made him , he just wanted to know where his ‘doggy’ was. It just shows you – though I’m blowed if I know what it shows you.

I thnk the secret of the enjoyment of making this quilt might be that every block is different and therefore keeps the interest. I am also lucky in that I have a very large collection of embroidery threads so that I can match colours quite well. You would be surprised how many times there still isn’t an exact match but that’s when the ‘contrast’ system kicks in. If you can’t match it, contrast it so that it looks as if you intended to do that all along. It quite often ends up as a better effect than a total match would have been.

Larger View

I am not usually a ‘country colours’ sort of girl. I am more the bright, breezy and a bit ‘in your face’ but this one calls for country colours so country colours I attempted.  As it is an outdoor theme I thought a grass/sky combination for the background would also work well. Other than that I tried to keep broadly to the sort of fabrics shown in the original.

I am here to tell you dear reader that I failed. I cannot do country colours. I tried but somehow I couldn’t keep the bright colours out. My stash rebelled and pointed me away from the greens and browns to the mauves and oranges. This will not of course necessarily happen to you if you decide to make it. I believe that the stash will out so if your taste runs to country colours – then country colours you will get. If your stash runs to pinks and purples perhaps your Sue will be finding his feminine side. Either way  your wall hanging or comfort blanket will be a lovely one-off.

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

Barking up the Wrong Tree.


Who's for Sausages

Hope you enjoyed this walk through the woods.

I am now off to carry on with the third quilt. Ithink I  may be a convert to Subonnet Sue.

Sunbonnet Sue Wears The Trousers

4 Sep

Last time I mentioned Sunbonnet Sue I was overwhelmed by the number of people who came across to look. Realising how many people were interested in the little lady I decided to make another quilt featuring her. Years ago I bought a book featuring Sunbonnet Sue and Scottie both in redwork and applique. The book was written by Suzanne Zaruba Cirillo. The redwork examples are lovely but life is too short for me to go down that path. I did the applique. I took a few photographs as I was making it and will share them with you.

Although she is wearing dungarees, the whole point of this collection is that it features Sunbonnet Sue not Overall Sam and so I chose fabrics that reflect this. I usually use up my box of small pieces for applique but I decided that I would start on a new pile of fat quarters and stash pieces this time. This turned out to be a good idea as it meant I had fabric left over for the 3.5″ squares that make up the quilt. Behold the fabrics cut ready to piece.

Fabrics ready to piece.

There were 12 applique panels and I used these and a few other fabrics to make the appliques. The panels start at 11.5″ and then are trimmed to 9.5″ after appliqueing. This is because the fabric usually distorts in the applique process and this way you end up with a nice square block.

I particularly like the fabric used on these dungarees.

Sharing an Icecream

A bit of boating on the lake calls for an orange outfit.

A Fair Wind and a Foul Sea

I love the way the dog is so expressive . In each picture you can see what he is supposed to be doing. I am sure you have all seen a dog in this pose when a ball is thrown for it.

If I Bring it Back You'll Only Throw it Again.

After a bit of a run round the park a drink is called for and a handy drinking fountain fits the bill. Obviously this is on a different day as the outfit now is in shades of Autumn. Very fetching.

Boy am I Thirsty

Next day we might go for a spot of roller skating in the same park. That is if the warden doesn’t catch us.

Get Those Snazzy Pants.

Nothing like a skipping rope to drive a dog to distraction.

Isn't This Exciting.

There’s nothing like a shower on a hot day.

Cooling Off

Having soaked the ground the way to keep your dungarees out of the mud is to wear stilts.

Head in the Clouds

Another day might see us on the beach, digging for treasure.

It Must be Here Somewhere

On the way home a turn on the swings.

I'm Feeling a Bit Queasy

At home for a few minutes with the blocks.

How many More Can I get On Here?

Finally a refreshing pot of tea for two – bliss.

Tea for two

Having finished the 12 blocks the rest of the fabric is cut into 3.5″ squares of prints and white and arranged as below.


Joined into 9 Patch

The panels are then alternated with the 9 patch blocks and stitched together.

Alternate Panels and Blocks

Then the quilt centre is complete.


Add a border and we’re ready for quilting.

With Border and Ready to Quilt


I have now finished the quilt and bound it so here is a photo of it complete.

One with the backing showing. This for a girl but you could do a boy’s one with Overall Sam in more masculine colours.


Love Her, Love Her Not

5 Aug

Who am I talking about? Sunbonnet Sue of course. I have to confess that I am not enamoured of Sunbonnet Sue. I don’t mind Overall Sam or Fisherman Fred as Emblibrary calls him. I think the problem may be continually trying to see under the bonnet but as Sam has the same problem maybe it is something deeper in my psyche. better not go there. I will be getting spam from ‘analyse yourself’ sites. Whatever it is I find it a tad unnerving.  Despite this I enjoy making both Sunbonnet and Sam  and embroidering Sunbonnet  and Fred. I had a spate of adding appliques cut  from patterned fabric to brighten up the subject. It was quite a long time ago so I was still experimenting with stitches. I really should have got out more. However  when you are stuck in the bush 6 hours drive from the nearest town of any size and when the drive really isn’t worth it you should be glad it’s only Sunbonnet Sue.

Sue Smells the Roses.

I was trying out the embroidery stitch selection on the machine I had bought then. Sadly I wore out the zig-zag mechanism which is not surprising considering how much applique I did on it over the years.

Sam Checks His Radishes.

Sue and 'Friends'

Sam and the Giant Ladybird

That one sounds like a good name for a kids’ story book.

Sue Watches a Butterfly.

As you can see all you have to do is change the angle of the bonnet and/or body and it really looks as if they are interacting with the add ons.

Having got the hang of Sunbonnets and finally settled on satin stitch as the norm I started trying a bit of random quilting round the body shapes. I was still experimenting and here I used a ‘lap lap’ from the local market in Papua New Guinea. I was desperate for any background fabric and in the end I think  it turned out quite well. I had to do a fair amount of cutting and disgarding various slogans such as ‘Happy Mothers Day’ and various religious epithets but I got there in the end. When you are a quilter no obstacle is unsurmountable. In the interests of honesty I think I might be a quilt topper rather than a quilter as I prefer the former to the latter but you catch my drift.

Sue Catches a Butterfly

I didn’t have any quilting thread or any of the mod cons I now have access to but it worked after a fashion. At the end of the day you can use what you have or not do anything so I used what I had in the true spirit of the quilting pioneers.

Add a few cheery balloons.

Birthday Sue

One for the bird lovers among you.

'Pretty Polly'

By this time I was getting a bit big for my boots and decided that I would like to do some fancy quilting. I bought myself a ‘Little Gracie’.  I’m afraid I should have saved my money. I even bought all the extra little bits to do pantograph. I have bought so many things over the years that did not live up to the hype that I carefully went into the details before buying. Unfortunately it’s not until you start using something that you see the drawbacks.   Perhaps lessons would have helped. However seeing all these old quilts is making me want to get the frame out again. Maybe I will have another go. I have so many tops to finish I really should get on and do them and you can have too much ‘stitch in the ditch’.   Could I stand the stress?

Skilled at quilting on the frame I am not however, if you want twiddly bits you can have them – witness.

I got a bit carried away with the extras on this one.

More Rose Smelling

Dragon Fly

You can only look at this one if you remember it was done before I worked out the technique for perfect satin stitch.

Detail of Quilting on Frame.

This type of quilting makes the figure stand out in relief by flattening the background. It works well with the Sunbonnets. I thought it was quite dandy as a look but I heard someone recounting how a longarm quilting service had ruined her quilt by using this technique round teddy bears on a Kidsquilts pattern. It just shows you that there are many different people in The World and they have many different ideas. Never assume that what you like or think is good will fit with other people’s ideas.

For an example of the embroidered Fisherman Fred – The B.C.s birthday card.

The B.C.s Favourite Pastime.

Stop press: I think I might have found someone to take my quilt tops off my hands. I contacted Project Linus in UK and they say they can get them finished. Good result for me and for them I hope. I still ought to get the frame out again  but the pressure is off a bit.

I hope you have enjoyed this little meander through my archive of Sunbonnet Sue and Overall sam . Whatever else you say about them they are easy to produce and, as you can see simple though they are , a bit of customisation makes them unique to you.

Seeing the applique fabrics remind me that I bought them on my last visit to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC, before I started quilting seriously.  It must be ten years ago. I am going again this year, next week in fact, so I will be interested to see if anything has changed.