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Could Sunbonnet Sue Help to Unlock the Real You?

Something quite extraordinary has been happening in the Quiltfolk community ever since our Break the Rules Block of the Month Welcome Party took place via live stream on World Quilting Day (March 16, 2024). With hundreds of people in attendance at the Welcome Party (and more than a thousand registered for Break the Rules BoM that officially kicks off on April 17, 2024—with registration remaining open through April 30), we wanted to embrace the spirit of rebellion, have fun with our community, and get to know folks through a clever icebreaker challenge. And, as it turns out, Sunbonnet Sue very unexpectedly transformed into our modern muse!

The Making of “Sunbonnet YOU”

The spark came from feeling mischievous knowing that my co-host for the BoM (Kay Walsh) has a particular aversion to Sunbonnet Sue. So, I imagined that a few unexpected tweaks to the staple bonnet, dress, or shoes would allow people to inject a little of their own personality into a traditional block to get the ball rolling for what we know will be a fun, no pressure kind of BoM! The decision to move forward with this icebreaker was sealed when “Quiltfolk Mike” (as we call him in the UK office) came up with the notion that the brief was not to stitch a Sunbonnet Sue—but a “Sunbonnet YOU”

Kay and I had a deadline to make ours. And, if I am being honest, we were both pretty sceptical that we would like our finished results—or even wholly enjoy the process along the way. But, to our surprise, some kind of “Sunbonnet Spell” cast over our studio as we started scouring for fabrics that could tell our story with a child-like wonder. We laughed at ideas of how to customise shoes and backdrops and, even more so, marvelled at our ability to portray snippets of ourselves through intentional but simple choices of fabric and stitches. 

By the end, Sunbonnet Sue no longer felt like a cliché destined only to patchworks from the distant past—but, instead, it became a key to a new, exciting version of ourselves as quilters. Much to our relief (and huge excitement), sharing our “Sunbonnet You” blocks with BoM Welcome Party attendees was incredibly fun, and, better yet, attendees were more than willing to take on the icebreaker challenge themselves. As a result, our new daily obsession is soaking up the pure joy and creativity from each and every “Sunbonnet You” photo that is shared with us.

A Few Favorites

Many attendees have shared their “Sunbonnet You” blocks in our private Break the Rules Facebook group, so if you are registered for the program, be sure to take a look. But for those who aren’t, here are just a few pictures for you to enjoy!

Click on an image below so see what each quilter had to say about their Sunbonnet creation. 

It seems crazy that the power of the creative mind can turn convention on its head, and we can’t think of a better way to start this Break the Rules BoM. Because if this is just the icebreaker, it is going to be quite the nine-month party!

Break the Rules BoM Registration Closes on April 30

If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for Break the Rules BoM before April 30. And if you do decide to come along on this unconventional quilting journey, all new attendees are welcome to join in on the “Sunbonnet You” challenge!

Plus, there is an exciting update! We have invited two additional guest mentors to join the program: Freddy Moran, featured in Issue 27: California Bay Area AND Kimberley Pierce Cartwright, featured in Issue 23: North Carolina! You will not want to miss learning tips and tricks from these talented, rule-breaking quilters. Sign up today to study under Freddy Moran, Kimberley Pierce Cartwright, Roderick Kiracofe, Chris English, Sarah Hibbert, and more!

About the Author

Jenni Smith is a quilter and author of Quilting with Liberty Fabrics and has been a Quiltfolk’s Workshop Director since 2021.

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