Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sunbonnet Sue in 1931

When I started putting Sunbonnet Sue information online ten years ago, I didn't have a lot of information. There are not many books about the history of Sue or how the pattern has evolved. I have a unique system for research. I buy things! That way I have quilts and books to draw my research from.

When I see a unique quilt, pattern or item on ebay, I try and buy it. I search the textiles at yard sales and look in old book shops. Recently I came across this clipping.

It is from the Jun 13, 1931 issue of "Capper's Weekly". This magazine has been published for 125 years out of Topeka Kansas. According to, the magazine promotes American values. What could be more American than Sunbonnet Sue?

The article shows 12 sunbonnet sues busily engaged in summer activities. At the end of the article is tells where to send away to get these images printed on fabric with different colored inks. Twelve of the blocks (9 inches square) can be ordered for 35 cents.

I own a partial set of these blocks, so I was excited to find their history. I've been calling them penny squares, but at 12 for 35 cents, they are really 3 cent squares! By finding this clipping, I can now properly date the squares. I also know who printed them.

Here is what the article says:
Sunbonnet babies, working, playing, eating, cooking, visiting as the decorate Baby's crib quilt are boon companions for the little fellow, for they teach lessons of thrift and industry and are ever interesting sources for story-making. Twelve embroidered quilt blocks, each one a different sunbonnet baby picture, each 9 inches square, make up this clever nursery quilt. The blocks are stamped in colors on fine white muslin, the color stamping serving as a guide for the placing of embroidery floss, which is worked in the simplest stitches -- outline and a French knot or two. Now that school is out and Little Sister is at a loss for something to do, start her out at her first fancy-work and her first quilt. Hers will be a double pleasure -- the pride of workmanship, the added joy of making something really nice for Baby Brother or Wee Sister. Or by joining the embroidered blocks with strips of the Little Maker's favorite color, the quilt will do nicely for the little girl's own bed. The dozen blocks stamped for embroidery cost only 35 cents and the work is so little, that I'm sure if there's a child in your home, no matter what size or sex, there'll soon be a sunbonnet baby quilt too. Order the Series R.D. from Needwork Services, Capper's Weekly, Topeka, Kan.
What a great find! I love matching up textile items I have with documentation that explains how old they are and where they were made.

Modern patterns are still being printed that use these same designs. I carry some at Click here to see a list of the patterns currently in stock.

1 comment:

Leslie Lim said...

It is great to have the opportunity to read a good quality article with useful information on topics that plenty are interested on.