Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Laura Ingalls Wilder Week on Ponderings Day 4: Sunbonnets

I hope everyone had a happy 4th of July weekend.  I'm continuing Laura Ingalls Wilder Week with a post on sunbonnets.  We can be certain that Laura Ingalls, Ma, Mary, Carrie and Grace all wore prairie pioneer sunbonnets to protect their skin from the hot summer sun.  The large bills provided shade, and also some protection from the prairie winds.  An extra bit of fabric along the back neckline provided added protection for the neck area.

The pink sunbonnet pictured above is made from high quality 100% cotton reproduction fabric,  Little Pink Stars (1840-1890) by Margo Krager for Blue Hill Fabrics.  The pink is not a contemporary cotton candy pink, but a pink with brown undertones true to that period.  It is made from the same fabric I used for my granddaughter's prairie dress and sunbonnet. 


I had enough fabric left over to make another girl's sunbonnet to post in my Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/pasqueflower.  (It is shameless commerce Tuesday, so I had to tell you that.)  I would be happy to do custom orders for sunbonnets of various colors, in sizes from toddler to adult.  There are a number of high quality quilter weight cottons in reproduction prints true to the pioneer period available on the market.   I am fortunate to have these fabrics available in my local quilt shops.   There is also a great online shop:  www.bonniebluequilts.com.   I visited their booth at the AQS Des Moines quilt show in 2009 and was quite impressed!  You can also find some wonderful reproduction fabrics at http://www.etsy.com/shop/NauvooQuiltCo.

As a quilter I couldn't resist, since we are on the topic of sunbonnets, sharing some information about the Sunbonnet Sue appliqué quilt block, so popular in 1930s era quilts.  If I ever decide to make a Sunbonnet Sue quilt, I'm sure it will incorporate 30s reproduction fabrics. There are many, many variations of Sunbonnet Sue and her male buddy (or little brother?) Overall Sam.  Here are links to some Sunbonnet Sue quilt resources:  http://www.sunbonnetsue.com;  http://www.pages.drexel.edu/~dml36/applique.html;


Or visit the International Quilt Study Center & Museum online database at www.quiltstudy.org to  

search their extensive 3500+ quilt collection by keyword.  For example, you could search Sunbonnet Sue, Double Wedding Ring,  Log Cabin, English paper piecing, etc.


AccuQuilt now offers Sunbonnet Sue templates for their Accu Quilt Go and Go! Baby precision fabric cutters.  http://www.accuquilt.com/go-shop/featured-go-products/go-sunbonnet-sue.html.  Their design is what I would consider the "classic" Sunbonnet Sue.    We have a Go! Baby – my hubby's newest toy.  He is helping me turn stash scraps into small perfectly-sized squares for a scrappy triple Irish chain project, and he's cutting larger squares for some of my charity quilt projects.   



LeAnn aka pasqueflower





  1. P.S. After posting, I stumbled across this cute rendition of Sunbonnet Sue from Sherry's Needleworks shop on Etsy:


  2. My sister and I both had sun bonnets when we were kids. Playing "pioneers" was one of our favorite things.

    I love that you're doing this series. It's so fun to think about Laura Ingalls again.

  3. I'm enjoying your posts on LIW and the quilts! So fun to learn more about both :).

    If bonnets like these ever came back in style, I'd probably wear them. I now wear hats religiously (along with high SPF sunscreen) to keep sun off my skin and further damage from it to a minimum.