Say Hello to Sunbonnet Sue

by sarah

I’ve been meaning to write a post about these little ladies for months now, but I’ve been so busy with all the new cards and prints I’m working on, I haven’t had a moment free to write! Finally, though, I’d like to introduce you to Miss Sunbonnet Sue, the star of our newest line of cards. Isn’t she sweet?

The inspiration for these cards came from my mom, who is an avid quilter, and the gorgeous redwork embroidery quilt that she’s working on right now. I didn’t know much about redwork before she started this quilt, but as soon as I saw what she was working on, I fell in love with the simple line drawings embroidered in red thread on a white background. Thinking that embroidery patterns would translate well into letterpress, I started looking through pattern books and vintage needlework catalogs. There are thousands of great patterns out there, but I kept coming back to Sunbonnet Sue, in her sweet little dress and adorably large hat.

Sunbonnet Sue is most widely associated with vintage quilts – there are hundreds of quilt and embroidery patters depicting Sue doing everything from picking flowers to reading a book to conspiring with her straw-hatted cohort Overall Sam (or Bill or Andy, depending on the pattern). After doing some more research, though, I discovered that all of these patterns are actually based on a set of much older drawings, taken from The Sunbonnet Babies Primer, published in 1902. Illustrated by Bertha Corbett, this beginning readers book follows the escapades of Molly and May, two little bonnet-headed girls who wouldn’t be named Sue for decades to come.

After finding a few photos of the book online, I knew that those original drawings were exactly what I wanted for my line of redwork cards. The Primer has been out of print for ages, but through the fabulous inter-library loan system at our local library, I was able to request a copy of it from a library in North Dakota. I couldn’t believe that they were willing to loan out a 100+ year old book, but a week later, I had it in my hands. It was amazing. As I (very carefully) turned the delicate pages, I just kept coming across more and more drawings that I wanted to print. Molly watering the garden. May feeding her chickens. The girls and their friends (the Sunbonnet Babies) sitting on a wall, all lined up with their fishing rods in hand. I loved them all!

So, I am thrilled to introduce the first five in what will eventually be a much larger line of Sunbonnet Sue cards and prints. They’re a great gift for anyone who loves quilting or needlework, but they’re just so sweet, I don’t see how anyone could not fall in love with these girls. I certainly have.