By Henya Rachmiel, Annette Tolley and Susan Schwandt

NOTE:  The Sunbonnet Sue COVID quilt and many, many beautiful quilts will be available for public viewing during the GAAQG Quilt Show, July 30-31at Washtenaw Community College.

The idea for making a Sunbonnet Sue COVID-19  quilt evolved from the Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild online Book Club activities. We discussed the history of Sunbonnet Sue: she was around in the late 1800s… became a popular quilt pattern during the 1920s,… and this enduring quilting and cultural icon is still popular today, whether revered or the object of satire.

The most noteworthy thing about Sunbonnet Sue may be that she is usually faceless and handless…and that we read into her, project onto her, our hopes and fears.

Our Zoom discussions about the effects of COVID-19…on nursing home inhabitants, on funerals, on people’s belief systems about the vaccines…turned into therapy sessions for participants.

We were both hopeful and fearful, as people got vaccinated, and yet the new variants created so much ongoing uncertainty. Few anticipated this Sunbonnet Sue online activity would bring comfort and help us successfully navigate the pandemic as we shared our stories with a new group of quilting friends.

As we shared our pandemic experiences, we wondered, how did Sunbonnet Sue manage to survive the pandemic? The answer to this question is revealed! Our “research” resulted in 20 quilt blocks (each 12.5”), showing “How Sunbonnet Sue Survived the Pandemic.” The blocks reflect our members’ quirky humor, sadness, poignant stories, and thoughtful reactions to a difficult time in our lives.

What else did our discussions reveal? Some may think Sunbonnet Sue is an old-fashioned, innocent farm girl, but GAAQG members applied their irreverent, subservice wit and roughly modern attitudes to discover that Sunbonnet Sue isn’t as sweet and innocent as she seems!

Thank you to the Ann Arbor Sewing Center for recommending the toilet paper sashing fabric (see quilt photo).The COVID-themed fabric printed by Spoonflower provided the perfect backing.

Laura Jarvis’,, longarm quilting design provided the finishing touch for the 60.5″ x 75″ Sunbonnet Sue quilt. Thank you, Laura for successfully navigating around our embellishments!



Block contributors and topics (please see the full quilt photo for block placement reference):

Row 1: Annette Tolley — Mad Dog, Henya Rachmiel — Drowning Our Sorrows, Barbara Gearin –Working from Home, Janice Racinos — Gone Fishing

Row 2: Lynne Bryant — Sam and Sue Take Up New Hobbies, Annette Tolley– Catching Up on Reading, Henya Rachmiel — Under A Cloud, Elizabeth Walther–Spanking the Tomatoes.

Row 3: Henya Rachmiel — Bad Hair Day, Lynne Bryant — No Visitors (at skilled care facilities), Susan Schwandt — Lying about being out of toilet paper and toilet paper hoarding

Row 4: Meena Schaldenbrand — Make It Work, Henya Rachmiel–Honey, Check the Porch Again, Janice Racinos — Zoom Meetings, Henya Rachmiel — The Sky is Falling

Row 5: Annette Tolley — Sewing Face Masks, Henya Rachmiel — Lost in Her Stash, Barbara Gearin — Binge Watching, Henya Rachmiel — Love in the Time of COVID




2 Responses

  1. Thank you for putting this blog post together – as well as the quilt! It is just wonderful!