In December 2004, my stepmother and Bonus Mom (so named by my brother), Virginia, shared with me a real treasure – thirty Sunbonnet Sue blocks made by her late husband’s maternal grandmother in the early 1940s.
The grandmother stitched the Sues to pass the time, using whatever materials she had on hand. The Sues were cut from various clothing scraps and hand appliquéd to backgrounds made from flour sacks (some of the backgrounds still have the blue marks from the sacks). Decorative hand embroidery was added. Each Sue is unique. Though most are looking forward, some are looking up or down. The embroidery varies and in some cases is omitted. One Sue is missing her shoes (or is very short). Some have the maker’s basting stitches still intact.
In the summer of 2005, we decided to create ten wall quilts to be presented to Virginia’s three children and six grandchildren. Each block was trimmed to 10″ x 13″. Sashing and borders of new fabrics were added. The wall quilts were hand quilted. A label detailing the family history of the Sues was stitched on the back of each.
At Virginia’s suggestion, I chose the last one below as “payment” for my work. (It hangs on the wall in my office.) She also assigned my father the task of deciding who will receive which quilt.
Many thanks to Cacilie D. and Sharon L., both of Houston, for their help with this project.
2016 UPDATE: The Sues have become even more precious as my father, one of Virginia’s grandsons, and Virginia have passed on. But our memories will last forever.