Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunbonnet Sue

I love the story behind this quilt. Earlier this fall, I was contacted by the niece of a woman who wanted a quilt for her daughter. The Sunbonnet Sue blocks were appliqued by another quilter who had that end of the project for at least two years. When the niece called me she was desperate to help her aunt get this quilt finished. The aunt was worried she wouldn't see the day of its completion, now that she was in her 80's. Within two weeks of our conversation, I had the blocks and got to work.

First, I added yellow print sashing to 32 blocks, which were set diagonally, to make a full size quilt top. Each block with sashing was approximately 13" finished. I added matching muslin for the setting triangles and corners.

Next came the quilting. I marked a continuous oval stencil design, typical of vintage style quilts, on freezer paper with a black felt tipped pen. I attached the design to my glass top coffee table and put a light underneath the table to illuminate the design.

Using a blue washable marker, I marked the quilt top, following the design that is visible underneath. I then pin basted the quilt top with Hobbs Heirloom Bleached batting and extra wide white tone-on-tone backing.

I used Presencia 100% cotton 50/3 thread for all the quilting in both the top and the bobbin. When I quilted the 1/2" grid (see below), I used the 60/3 thread in the top and 50/3 in the bobbin.

Following what I did, here's a suggested quilting order:

*Use a walking foot to stitch in the ditch all the seam lines between the blocks and the sashing. This firmly anchors the quilt.

*Next stitch the curves of the oval design, also with the walking foot.

*With a darning foot, stitch around the Sunbonnet Sue applique design, taking care to stitch just between the applique and the background fabric and not on top of the applique, except when quilting around the top of the foot, bottom of the bonnet, and around the sleeve/hand. This helps keep the design from popping out, especially after washing/drying the quilt.

*Quilt a 1" grid in the setting triangles and the corners with a walking foot.

*Quilt a 1/2" grid in the background of the Sunbonnet Sue. I used the walking foot here too, although you can use a darning foot for ease in maneuvering around the applique.

It's best to mark the grids before layering the quilt. I contemplated a couple different designs for the background, such as McTavishing and a meandering line with flowers interspersed, before settling on grids. When in doubt, quilt a grid. It highlights applique beautifully and is an authentic design choice for Sunbonnet Sue.

I'm happy to say the quilt was finished in time for the holidays. Here is Sandy, the recipient of the quilt on Christmas morning with her mom, Betty. There is such joy to see it finished!

Copyright ©2010, Sharon Baggs

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