Sunbonnet Sue Take 2…or…How I Saved 30 Little Girls!

Oh the things you can buy on eBay!

$18.00 bought me this Sunbonnet Sue quilt top with a pink ruffle on 3 sides, a total of 30 blocks and sadly in kind of bad shape. Not what I was expecting. And the aroma, oh dear!

Here’s the thing, this quilt top showed signs of being well used considering the stains, rub marks, spots of unknown origin, etc. What could possibly go wrong in the front load washing machine set to a gently cold water wash? Envision all the natural muslin in an awkward shade of light pink at the finish of the wash cycle. 🙁 Having really nothing to lose at that point, I threw the quilt top into the dryer set on low.

I mulled over how to proceed for a few hours and decided to cut the Sue’s out leaving 3/8″ of the now pink muslin around each of the girls.

Here’s how they looked after being cut from the quilt:

And here’s how all 30 of the Sue’s looked after I soaked them overnight in dish wash powder. Interestingly, the dish wash powder did nothing to remove the pink from the muslin.

Look closely at the pic below and you can see the pink muslin.

Seriously though, don’t these cut outs look darling!

I let all the girls dry on the counter top. Using heavy spray starch, the starch container lid, an artist paint brush and my iron I set about to press the 3/8″ pink muslin edge to the back of Sue. I sprayed a good amount of starch into the lid and then “painted” the starch onto the muslin using the brush. By pressing the starched area until dry, I had the perfect set-up to appliqué the Sue into a new background fabric.

From the moment I decided to cut our all the Sue’s, I knew I wanted to appliqué them onto background squares set on point. Right up to the moment when I realized with the 30 12″ finished blocks including smashing and borders would make a quilt much larger than I wanted.

By folding the 12 1/2″ blocks diagonally point to point in both directions and lightly finger pressing, I determined the center of the squares. By laying a ruler at the bottom of the square set at the 2 1/2″ line, I placed each Sue with her shoe resting at the upper ruler edge. This gave me consistency of the bottom border between the shoe and the block edge.

Lots of straight pins held each one in place while I used my sewing machine set to a tiny zig-zag. Bernina parameters: width 1, length 1. In my needle I’m using Gutermann Skala color #800, in the bobbin a prewound 60 weight white poly.

Here’s what the block looks like on the back side.

I’m unsure if I will keep the blocks at 12″ finished, I may trim the sides to form a rectangle. I’ll have a better idea once all 30 of the Sue’s are stitched onto their new fabric. Speaking of the background fabric, I had intended to use a natural muslin. Once I laid out 5 or 6 of the Sue characters on the natural, I realized they needed to be on bleached muslin to “brighten” them up a bit.

I’ll keep you posted as this project develops, just remember, there are many many different ways to save quilts, quilt blocks and even pieces of quilt tops! Be open minded and your opportunities are endless!


Remember the terribly stained napkin from my previous blog post? The one I put the large safely pin in so I could identify it after the dish wash powder soak? Good thing I pinned it! Look at the 2 pics below, the before and after! Wow!!

And finally, this is Memorial Day. Take a minute or two and say a prayer of thanks for all the men and women who gave their lives that you and I could have the freedom to pursue our dreams!

Happy quilting and blessings to all,


21 thoughts on “Sunbonnet Sue Take 2…or…How I Saved 30 Little Girls!

    1. Good morning Robbie, I’m doing great considering the excessive heat in Texas right now! I’m helping with my totally awesome and precious grandson and find little time for quilting these last 2 months! I’ve got so many ideas for new blog posts running around in my head, when I find an extra hour or two maybe I can get something together and post again!! Hope it’s a blessed day and thanks for checking on me!


      1. Oh that is so special to help with him. Isn’t it amazing how much energy they have? I am helping to raise my 8 year old Granddaughter. She is at the age that she can help a lot. Quilting has to go by the wayside sometimes. I bet you have lots of ideas running around in your head. You are so talented and share so much. Yes Texas is very hot. I have been there a few times. Oh my word.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Could you tell me if you have a book out with your embroidery in it? Also what size do you cut your hexies ? I guess you embroidered them first …… then cut them out?!?! It is beautiful ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Marilyn! I’m going to give you some blog posts that give tons of details about this project of mine titled Second Chances. It is made from torn, stained, worn out vintage linens of all kinds. And no, there’s no book as I did not do the embroideries.
      Posts date:
      Plus: 03/24/18

      In the search bar type in: Rhonda Dort
      Scroll down to: My “Second Chances” hexagon quilt…

      Let me know if you have questions and of course if you decide to go forward, I’m always just an email or a text message away to help.



  2. You have created such wonderful ideas for rescuing vintage linens-thank you- I have a heart for them too, but haven’t known what to do with them. You have wonderful ideas and tutorials.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. They really look so cute lined up on your counter. Beautiful counter, by the way. This is a cute save and knowing you they are going to be so adorable on their new home. That is strange the background turned pink after obviously years of use. Today I had fun teaching my little 8 year old Grand daughter how to sew by hand. We made an adorable simple skirt for one of her barbies. Her stitches were really good for sewing her first time. My Mother and Grandmother would be so proud. Thank you for sharing your beautiful talent.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Rhonda –
    Have you ever used Biz powder detergent for removing stains?
    I have had great success with soaking in it.
    It is an old fashion product and not easy to find but so worth it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. These little girls are darling. I love your idea of cutting them away leaving a tiny bit of the original background to fold under. They are going to love their new playground (quilt). Great save and lovely work as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rhonda, this Aussie gal is a little pea green envy at the sight of all those darling Sunbonnet Sues! You certainly happened upon fabulous treasure. I can’t wait to see these sweet girls all playing nicely with each other.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s