Oh my goodness, names have really changed over the last century and a half! Flo and Edna. Bertha and Eulalie. They all sound like characters from a book, and they are part of a story for me. The story of the Sunbonnet Sue quilts in my family’s cupboards.
Those of you who have read my blog post, “Let’s Put on a Show“, are familiar with Hoosier family matriarchs and quilters Flo and Edna. Their quilts comprise the quilt show opening April 4th in Rising Sun, Indiana and moving to Madison, Indiana in May/June. During the decades they quilted, both women enjoyed making a Sunbonnet Sue quilt or two. And I LOVE these photos of them sporting their own bonnets!
Most of us would easily recognize a Sunbonnet Quilt with it’s side view of a girl wearing a large bonnet that hides her face. A sweet applique pattern I usually associate with a child’s or baby’s quilt. Looking for information on the quilt’s history for our family’s upcoming quilt show, I was surprised to find a 1900s children’s book as the quilt pattern inspiration for many of the last century’s quilters.
Meet Bertha and Eulalie, two talented women and my other Sunbonnet ladies.
Bertha Corbett Melcher began drawing her Sunbonnet Babies in 1897, paired with short couplets of verse like, “In the rain-barrel big and brown/We see our faces up-side-down.” Her work was popular and soon found in many forms: printed, embroidered, appliquéd, and painted on china.
When she teamed up with children’s book author, Eulalie Osgood Grover, to create a charming reading primer, “The Sunbonnet Babies” really took off.
I’m very fortunate to have my grandmother Flo’s quilt patterns, one labeled “small” and one “large” in her handwriting, all dotted with tiny pin holes from countless pinnings and cuttings.
My cousin Julie’s sunbonnet quilt will be on display in the upcoming “Flo & Edna” quilt show. It was made over 50 years ago by her grandmother, Edna. I remember seeing it on Julie’s twin bed when I would visit and spend the night.
Julie’s quilt features the Sunbonnet Sue doll applique in blocks separated by bands of blue and white gingham. The doll has a blue and white gingham dress and yellow sunbonnet and shoes. There are seven rows of four blocks, of which the outer blocks are perpendicular to the center blocks. The lower corners of the quilt are curved, and the quilt is edged in white binding. Finished size is 56” x 93” with a 15″ square matching pillow.
There’s a lot of great information online about the Sunbonnet Babies and their creators, Bertha & Eulalie, and if you like quilts, I’m sure you’d enjoy the Flo & Edna show this spring in Southeast Indiana. Flo, Edna, Bertha, Eulalie. Four creative women with old-fashioned names. My Sunbonnet Ladies.