noun ap·pli·qué \ˌa-plə-ˈkā\
a needlework technique in which a small piece of fabric is sewn
or otherwise fixed to a larger piece of material
to create designs, patterns or pictures.
Sunbonnet Sue: A Brief Bio.
Quilt blocks of Sunbonnet Sue began showing up in the 1800s, but their popularity began to grow after the publication of the Sunbonnet Babies Primers in the early 20th century. Bertha Corbelt and Eulalie Osgood Grover teamed up to teach children how to read by using illustrated stories about Sunbonnet Sue and her friends, Fisherman Fred and Suspender Sam. Teachers, parents and children fell in love with Sunbonnet Sue
due to her sweet temperament, wholesome vignettes of everyday life and that adorable ever-present bonnet. Sue's simple faceless features enticed hand quilters, and soon after the release of the Sunbonnet Babies Primers, magazines began publishing patterns for needleworkers. Most of the Sunbonnet Sue quilts found today were made between 1900 and 1940. She never seemed to grow old. More than a century after her conception, Sunbonnet Sue is still just as cute as ever - one design that almost everyone recognizes, even nonquilters.
stolen from various Google sources
I first laid eyes on the quilt blocks when I was thirteen, one afternoon when Momma and I were rummaging in her cedar chest, looking at clothes from her trousseau — chiffon nightgowns, pongee bed jackets, silk slips. This peek into my mother’s past was a secret ritual, for just the two of us. But on this day, from under the tissue-paper wrapped lingerie, Momma lifted a white pillow case, gently pulled out the contents and there they were. Seventeen Sunbonnet Sues, appliquéd onto beige muslin squares.
When he got sick, I didn’t have time to sew these together, Momma said. They’re here whenever you want them. I have no recollection of what either of us said next, which might suggest that my mother and I weren’t close. But the opposite is true. We adored one another. Even after I married, had children of my own, created an independent life for myself — even then, my relationship with Momma often seemed the most precious in my life.
When I finally lifted the seventeen quilt blocks out of the cedar chest, each little Sunbonnet Sue in her print dress and pastel hat - embroidered with French knots or daisy stitch - looked just as I remembered her. But the muslin squares were dotted with mold.
I carefully pulled out my mother’s stitches, separated each small appliqué from her larger backing, laid the little girls in a row on the floor and stared at them - my mother’s creation - not knowing what the hell to do next.
So far, I’ve sewn each Sunbonnet Sue to a new,
dark blue cotton square.
Not much, but progress of a sort.
Perhaps that’s the way it is with
mothers and daughters.
With parents and children.
There’s always unfinished business.
copyright 2017 Ozzie Nogg