Monday, February 17, 2014

Bigfoot Sue Gets A Makeover

Every once in a while I succumb to the temptation to rescue a vintage quilt from a thrift shop.  Thrift shops do understand the value of vintage quilts, and price them accordingly.  So the only ones I ever buy are quilts with some serious issues, and therefore at an affordable price.

the big white spots are big holes

I'm not a huge fan of Sunbonnet Sue, and besides I have a treasured family Sue that came from my great aunt.  But this Sue has all of that embroidery on it and she was just too cute to pass up.

It had the usual vintage quilt problems.  The binding was all frayed.  Sue's dresses were worn and some of them had big holes in them as you can see above.

The seams between the blocks had originally been embroidered in a feather stitch, most of which was worn away.

When I got it home and studied it a bit, I was intrigued by Sue's feet.

They are the same color as her hat, but show the same type of embroidery as the hands.  The hand embroidery is obviously meant to indicate fingers.

If these are fingers, are the feet meant to indicate toes?  I named her "Bigfoot Sue".

I repaired the three most worn Sues, two of which had big holes.  The third was so faded that her dress was exactly the same color as the background muslin.

I carefully preserved Sue's little mitts, and in this case preserved the whole sleeve too.  I appliqued new dresses onto the Sues.  Repairing a vintage quilt full of lumpy cotton batting is more like upholstery than like quilting.  You are working in three dimensions rather than two.  

Working on Sue allowed me to study her feet more closely.  There are french knots on those stitches that I originally interpreted as toes.  So they are probably not toes, but high button shoes.  But I am still calling her Bigfoot Sue.

Brunhilde, my trusty Singer 316G, was up to the task

I picked out all of the feather stitching with tweezers.  Yes, really.  And it did take forever.  After a lot of thought and searching for just the right ribbon or fabric I decided to replace it with black rick rack.  It needed a LOT of rick rack, so I bought a spool of 108 yards.  One can never have too much rick rack on hand.

I replaced the binding and added rick rack around the edges.  

She's looking pretty good now, don't you think?

And now for something completely different.  I walked into the local Habitat Restore a couple of weeks ago, only to be confronted by these.

I wanted to buy them.  All of them.  And put them in my front yard.  But I didn't.


  1. I want a mannequin for my sewing room! I love your Sues, I really want one of those quilts, maybe I will make one, one day.

  2. You would have seriously scared the neighbors with those mannequins. The Sue turned out lovely!

  3. I can see those as yard ornaments in some seriously critical parody of life on the wrong side of the tracks!
    I'd love to have a sewing mannequin.
    Very interesting Sunbonnet Sue--I'm glad you were able to rescue it.


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