Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Sunbonnet Sue in Redwork Embroidery


Amazon Books

Two things you might not know about me: I have a Thing for the color red (ok, if you look at Needle ‘n Thread, you might gather that), and I have a deep-seated affection for Sunbonnet Sue.

Sunbonnet Sue is iconic. When she’s done right, she’s just adorable. Admittedly, there are some Sues I like better than others. The vintage, homey, sweet Sunbonnet Sue – well, she just pulls my little heartstrings.

And so, there I was, a few weeks ago, meandering through new embroidery books out on the market, when my eyes were arrested by a whole redwork collection devoted to the sweet, vintage, homey Sue that I love!

Be still, my heart! Oh, I must have you! said I.

And the rest, as they say in Kansas (and many other places as well), was history.

The book was everything I hoped it would be. Here’s my review of Sunbonnet Sue Redwork Collection for All Seasons by Loyce Saxton of Yesterday’s Charm.

Sunbonnet Sue Redwork Collection for All Seasons

Sunbonnet Sue Redwork Collection offers 16 different Sunbonnet Sue vignettes. Some are a little more elaborate than others – all are Perfect Sue.

In addition to the iron-on transfer designs and the embroidery itself, there are suggestions and instructions for ten projects that can be made with the finished redwork Sues.

Sunbonnet Sue Redwork Collection for All Seasons

The book begins with basics on redwork embroidery, covering information on supplies, project set-up, and the like.

There are stitching instructions for the basic stitches used commonly in redwork.

Sunbonnet Sue Redwork Collection for All Seasons

Then we get into the various projects featuring the designs.

The book is titled “For All Seasons,” and a focal point in the designs are these four seasons scenes.

Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter are each represented with darling scenes of Sue and her friends doing seasonal stuff – frolicking among flowers, drinking lemonade, climbing apple trees, building snowmen.

Sunbonnet Sue Redwork Collection for All Seasons

The projects range from adorable spring or Easter towels (the bunnies with the mirror are So Cute!)…

Sunbonnet Sue Redwork Collection for All Seasons

…to fabric gift bags for Christmas…. to lots of things in between!

I love the idea of fabric gift bags! They’d make terrific needlework project bags – and much more permanent than paper. They’d be a gift in themselves, you know? And they can definitely be adapted for other occasions.

Sunbonnet Sue Redwork Collection for All Seasons

All the projects are accompanied by materials lists, instructions for the embroidery, and then complete assembly instructions via text, step by step photos, or drawn diagrams.

Sunbonnet Sue Redwork Collection for All Seasons

It’s a bread bucket!

The projects and designs leave a lot of scope for mixing and matching. The bread bucket above, for example, doesn’t have to be used for bread – it can be used as a small sewing basket or … whatever!

The Sunbonnet Sue design could be a spring design – it doesn’t have to be an autumn one.

And, incidentally, the embroidery doesn’t even have to be redwork!

Sunbonnet Sue Embroidery on Flannel

This is a Sunbonnet Sue I embroidered ages ago. It’s worked on flannel, for a square on a baby quilt.

The fun thing about Sunbonnet Sue? You can go all-out on her adornment, her environment – you can embroider her any way you want to! And you can make her into anything you want, from baby blankets to wall art, from journal covers to bread buckets. She’s totally adaptable.

Sunbonnet Sue Redwork Collection for All Seasons

In the back of the book, you’ll find 16 iron-on transfers for all seasons, plus the same designs on vellum for tracing, so that you will always have the design, even if you use up the transfers.

Some of the larger projects (like the seasonal scenes) can be broken down into smaller designs, too, and many of the smaller vignettes can be combined into larger scenes, so really, there are more than 16 design possibilities.

Pros & Cons

Well, I can’t think of any cons at all – the book gives everything it promises, and it’s easy to understand, well-written, and very affordable.

If you like redwork, or if you like vintage embroidery vignettes, or if you like Sunbonnet Sue – all are good reasons to love this book and add it to your needlework library!

Where to find Sunbonnet Sue Redwork Collection For All Seasons

You can find this adorable collection through the following book affiliates:

In the US, you can find Sunbonnet Sue Redwork Collection through Amazon. Although stock is somewhat low right now, they have more coming!

Everywhere else, you can find Sunbonnet Sue Redwork Collection through Book Depository, with free worldwide shipping to most countries.


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(24) Comments

  1. I love Redwork and Sun Bonnet Sue so while I need no new projects to start, I do believe I am going to have to have this book. The Redwork is wonderful but those done as multi colored embroidery are also inspired.

  2. Dear Mary

    I’ve not heard of Sunbonnet Sue before but the photos above are adorable especially if you are making something for children it looks a fun project to embroider and like you I love red so these would be delightful projects. I like your embroidered piece on Sunbonnet Sue it’s lovely. it looks a great book and a reasonable price for the amount of instructional information contained in it. Thanks for your review on the book and for letting us know about this delightful vintage embroidery vignettes on the adorable Sunbonnet Sue.

    Regards Anita Simmance

    1. Hi, Anita – well, interestingly enough, Sunbonnet Sue can be loosely traced back to Kate Greenaway, a British illustrator, insofar as Kate popularized be-hatted, playing children in illustrations. But it was an American illustrator, Bertha Corbett, who is considered the mother of Sunbonnet Sue. She started with Sunbonnet Babies and Sue developed from there. You can read a good history of Sunbonnet Sue here: http://www.sunbonnetsue.com/suehistory.html

    2. Dear Mary

      Thanks for the history and information I just read the article you suggested very interesting I don’t know why I never heard of Sunbonnet Sue before considering it came about in the early 1900s I have seen pictures but did not know the history. So thanks for the information.

      Regards Anita Simmance

  3. I love this! I first found needlenthread.com when I was wanting to start some redwork embroidered squares for making a quilt. Sunbonnet Sue is such a classic to me. Thanks for the book review!

  4. I still have a (ratty now) pillow (applique) that my granma made for me as a child of sunbonnet Sue. The pillow was green. She also made a denim Dan/suspender Sam one for my brother but he disliked it. That was the only time I remember her doing any stitching for me when I was a child, she crocheted more than sewed. She never embroidered.

  5. Mary, I am so pleased to have this reference. I am working on a baby quilt with my sister which has as its theme Sunbonnet Sue. I am tired of applique and it would be so more interesting to embroider some of the blocks — not redwork. I liked what you did with that little quilt block.

    Blessings, Charlotte

  6. Oh, Mary. If you’ve not yet done so, you’ve GOT to see the musical play “Quilters” by Molly Newman and Barbara Damashek. It is based on “The Quilters: Women and Domestic Art” by Patricia Cooper and Norma Bradley Allen. It’s a short piece, so usually only done by schools and amateur groups.
    Essentially, the show depicts vignettes in the lives of various women in the pioneer days and how they all used their quilts and quilting to make it though life and all that it threw at them. It’s a great show for needlewomen of all types.
    However, for your love of Sunbonnet Sue, there is an absolutely charming monologue done by Annie who wants to be a doctor and is not handy with a needle but whose sister quilts quite well and is constantly making Sunbonnet Sue. I won’t spoil the surprise, but I highly recommend you see the play if you ever get the chance.

  7. Forgive me. I normally love everything here but… A few years ago, Doctor Who made a comeback on BBC, and there was an episode where the aliens were terrifying faceless children, with their faces covered by WW2 gas masks. It clearly traumatised me, because my first reaction to seeing these pictures was one of being rather disturbed. Faceless things have this sort of unsettling effect on me, and always have. In fact, when embroidering, I usually feel distinctly edgy until I have done the subject’s face, particularly the eyes. It is as if, until that moment, I am not sure whether they will be friendly or not. I am sure that if it were part of my shared culture I would feel more reassured about sunbonnet sue, but she wasn’t a feature of my youth!

  8. Like a lot of people, Redwork was my first foray into surface Embroidery.

    It’s still my project of choice for travel. What could be easier?

    While I love the bright turkey red look, my color of choice for vintage is DMC #3328. It’s a soft faded rosy color. It looks very old.

  9. Dear Mary,

    You are a women after my own heart. I love Sunbonnet Sue,such a classic and one of my favourite colours is…Red.I use to decoupage her all the time. Just before Christmas I was looking for some designs, as Anita said, cause I asked around no one in Australia was familiar with her, such a shame..and why did I not think about looking on Needle ‘n Thread first?. I am now off to order the book.
    God Bless,

  10. I love your Sunbonnet Sue! I am so happy to have found your site. Last year I decided to get back into embroidery, after a 20 year lapse, but to my dismay it seemed everything was cross stitch. And on that, I am one and done — made my sister a wedding piece, and it is gorgeous… but wow — an X…and another X, and another and another…. and with my hand and wrist issues.. I switched to quilting, which gave me an outlet for experimentation and learning and challenge.

    But I still had the needle and thread itch. I love STITCHES, and stitching. Aside from crewel, there’s not much out there…

    Until here! So Thank You!!! Now my trigger thumb has to ease…

  11. So nice to see “Sunbonnet Sue” patterns based directly on 1902’sThe Sunbonnet Babies Primer and later Sunbonnet Babies ABC[followed by other books] illustrated by Bertha L. Corbett and written by Eulalie Grover. The books were intended for earliest primary students. They were so popular that the mothers of boys requested similar male oriented material thus The Overall Boys, Jack, Joe, Tim and Ted. though drawn by the same artist, Bertha L. Corbett, unlike their little girl counterparts, their faces are shown.

    By the way, the Sunbonnet babies are named May and Molly, which I think charming and appropriate for such sweethearts.

  12. I’m thrilled you liked my book. I had a lot of fun making it but never dreamed it would be reviewed by an expert such as yourself. Seriously I was so excited I did a little happy dance. Thanks for making my day!

  13. I love your embroidered Sunbonnet Sue on flannel. I fell in love with SS and Overall Sam as I knew him back in the 70’s. I made an appliqued cotton quilt with red and white gingham sashing in high school. I bought the same book as your showing but the red ink has smudged. Not that I planned on ironing it, I prefer to trace with micro permanent pens now. I read that the Japanese are crazy about her and that’s why she’s having a revival in the States. They are so adorable though.

  14. Oh my, this book is just too cute! I love sunbonnet sue and the seasonal themes are just perfect. I added it to my Amazon wishlist and will order it soon, thanks for the information and great photos of it!

  15. Mary, thank you so very much for bringing the Sun Bonnet Sue book to our attention. Sue is my favorite! I just purchased the book and can not wait for it to arrive. Love your site.

  16. Mary how adorable. i love SS but have never done redwork. went to amazon to order but they’re currently out of stock. do you have any idea when they’ll receive a shipment?


  17. I’ve seen descriptions of this book, and it looks wonderful; I’ve always liked Sunbonnet Sue. I’d like to ask, though, is how difficult are the patterns? I do not want anything elaborate; just a book with some easy patterns. Can you recommend one?

    1. The patterns are really just as easy or complex as you want to make them, Melissa. You can stitch them very simply, by covering just the design lines, or you can go all out with stitches. You can also just transfer part of the design if you’re tracing. So there’s lots of leeway in how complex or simple you want to make them!

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