To Cut or Not To Cut

sunbonnet sue 1Cutter quilts they call them, quilts too worn and tattered to display or use. Cut ‘em up; that seems to be the popular theme.

I can’t deny that I’ve purchased a few items embellished with these cut up old quilts. A few cards, a hanging sign proclaiming “Quilt Collector” with a scrap of old quilt attached, and my favorite – a framed Sunbonnet Sue from a local antique/collectible store.

Sunbonnet Sue’s wormed their way into my life and my heart. They weren’t particularly my favorite applique pattern. I didn’t dislike them; they just weren’t one of my favored designs. Then, one fateful day at an unplanned stop at a yard sale, I discovered a stack of thirty Sunbonnet Sue and Overall Bill quilt blocks, each signed with a name, and one dated 1934.

sunbonnet sue 2The past few years, as I’ve located the origin of these squares, and the people that created them in Athelstan, Iowa almost eighty years ago, I’ve become attached. As I find out more about the people behind the squares, and have met a few descendants of the squares (via email and Facebook), Sunbonnet Sues become more deeply entrenched in my heart.

So when I came across an entire quilt, covered with 48 Sunbonnet Sues, in one vendor booth at a nearby vintage shop, I had to snatch it up. Mine! All mine! Most of the squares are ripped and torn and the quilt is too shabby for any useful function. It’s one that most would call a ‘Cutter Quilt’.  But I can’t do it. I look at all the stitching, some still in relatively good condition, and think of the hours of loving attention that went into creating the tattered, holey quilt that I hold in my hands.

I’m not sure what I’ll do with it. It may simply sit in my closet, keeping company with my other antique quilts, doing nothing but being loved.  Cut it up? No, I just can’t bring myself to do it. For now, I’ll share it with you and celebrate its creation and existence.

sunbonnet sue 3



  1. I wouldn’t be able to cut it either. I have to agree with you that the time that was spent creating this piece is more important to its history that what could be made from it now. I also have a crazy quilt that needs work but I won’t cut it up either.

  2. I’m glad to hear I’m not alone in this Ann.
    I love crazy quilts! I started a crazy quilt square …. about 8 years ago lol. It’s still sitting in one of my craft drawers waiting for me to finish embellishing it. Guess I’m too lazy, it’s easier to buy old quilts and cherish them.

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