Thursday, November 27, 2014

HUMOROUS QUILTS: Keeping Us In Stitches

Sunbonnet Soup by Bette Kelley

HUMOROUS QUILTS: Keeping Us In Stitches is currently on display at the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts through December 27, 2014


I noticed  a familiar face in their show description---well a familiar hat. Bette Kelley's
"Sunbonnet Soup" is from the Seamsters' Union's 1979 quilt.

The Sun Sets on Sunbonnet Sue, The Seamster's Union (Local #500), 
Lawrence, Kansas

A few details:

The quilt, which I worked on, is now in the Kitty Cole Clark collection at the Museum at Michigan State University. MSU must have loaned it to the New England Quilt Museum.

See more details here:

The Humorous Quilt show features other satirical Sunbonnet quilts.

Barbara Barber and Friends
Sam & Sue Do It Better in the Nude

Teddy McMahon Pruett
The Salacious Secrets of Sam and Sue

Sue represents a well-mannered pillar of the community who just begs for needling. Read a 1979 a newspaper article about our quilt when it was denied display space at a regional fair. If our job as artists is to Ă‰pater la bourgeoisie (Shock the middle class) we did a fine job in 1979.

Sue Breaks Bad by the City Sewers

And we continue to do so today. Last spring the City Sewers displayed an altered Sunbonnet Sue quilt at our local guild show. Some people were gravely offended by Anarchist Sue, Tagger Sue, Meth-Making Sue, etc.

Tattoo Sue

Pole Dancer Sue

Hate-filled Sue
See more photos at this post by Deb:

We have dropped the ball, however, in the metaphorical game. Urban Threads offers machine embroidery patterns for the Seven Deadly Sinbonnet Sues. Above: Sloth.


See more of their Sinbonnet Sue designs:

The perfect holiday gift for someone on your list.

Read about our motive for creating the 1979 Sun Sets on Sunbonnet Sue at this post:


  1. i was lucky enough to see The Sun Sets on Sunbonnet Sue at MSU. I appreciated the humor and especially loved all the references to events from that period of time, like Skylab falling and 3-mile Island.

  2. I'd love to see these in person. I like the altered Sue and of course your Sun Sets on Sue is funny. I'm a journalist and what's even funnier is reading that 1979 article where the reporter treats a "controversial" quilt as serious news. How big was the kerfuffle about the quilt in 1979?

  3. That would be an interesting exhibit to see, love the satire.


  4. Brenda---it was an enormous kerfluffle.
    A schism in the guild between the sentimentalists and the sarcastic.

  5. Thank you for this great post! Being a closet-hater of sunbonnet sue for years, it was fun to learn I'm not alone. I laughed and laughed over the quilt and read the newspaper article with glee!

  6. I saw a photo of the 1979 Sue at a trunk show back in the 1990's....have always remembered it.

  7. Where can i purchase a set of all these outrageously cute and funny patterns for my sister who has a lot of the sunbonnet sue patterns

  8. Barbara, did you make one of the blocks? I saw featured on a quilting documentary the other day and they mentioned that it was made by a group in Lawrence. KS.