I wrote the following for an exhibit I put together of some of my crib quilts in 2010. Eventually I'll add some more history to the Sunbonnet motif as I discover it. A great source for the history of what we have come to call the Sunbonnet Sue pattern is Dolores Hinson's 1983 "The Sunbonnet Family of Quilt Patterns." If you would like to add more research sources, please feel free to leave a comment on this blog.
Scotties (and West Highland Whites) were very popular in the USA from the 1920s through the 1950s. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s famous Scottie (Fala) brought the breed to the public’s attention once more but did not create the Scottie sensation in the USA to begin with.
Girls in bonnets were first popularized in 1878 by the publication of Kate Greenway first illustrated book. In 1884 the first knock-off Kate Greenway illustrations were published for needlework. Bertha Corbett self-published her first illustrated storybook The Sunbonnet Babies in 1900. Bernhardt Wall, another early 20th century artist, also got into the act and created his own distinctive bonneted little girls plus Overall Sam. Over the last century both Corbett’s and Wall’s simplified designs have been adapted for Redwork embroidery. Sunbonnet embroidery patters were certainly in the Ladies Art Catalogue (St. Louis, MO) by 1910.
But when did the popular Sunbonnet Sue applique patterns appear?
The earliest I have found is Marie Webster's appliqued Sunbonnet Lassies. It appeared in the pages of the Ladies Home Journal in August 1912. Were there any earlier renditions of SBS in applique published in a popular magazine? When did it take on the name, Sunbonnet Sue instead of Sunbonnet Lassies?
Sunbonnet Sue as an appliquéd figure really took off in the early 1930s and remained very popular through the 1960s. In the 1930s outline black embroidery was often added around appliquéd figures.
This particular crib quilt is not as finely made as most you will see from the 1930s and is rather crudely embroidered around the appliqué. It is a very thick quilt yet hand quilted. It is the first Sunbonnet Sue quilt I have personally seen with the Scottie dog added.