As the needle bends

A world view thru my hobbit hole door

Sunbonnet Sue De-construction Continues

I thought it time for an update concerning “Project Adele,” otherwise known as the SunBonnet Sue/Dutch Doll quilt resuscitation project, that I had promised to document the process here at “As the Needle Bends.”

It seems rather lame to say “Progress is slow,” so I will share some of the things that I have learned during the project.

The first is, before you begin such a project, make sure that you thoroughly document the project as it was before you began. I can’t begin to imagine what I nightmare it would be to start putting the quilt back together with new sashing without good pictures to show which “Sue” goes where. I will likely also make a graph that numbers the blocks with a row-number method (ie A-4, D-3, etc). Using this method, block A-5 is the one where “Sue” needs a new dress.

Timing is everything. In other words, unless you have a large table on which to spread such a quilt to work on removing the old quilting stitches, I might not advocate beginning in June in Southeast Texas, unless you are really good friends with your air conditioner.

I initially began disconnecting the backing from the quilt top by using a tiny pair of scissors, and a seam ripper. Along the way, someone (and I ask your forgiveness if it was YOUR suggestion – but I can remember who/where I got this hint) suggested that I use a small rotary cutter to cut the stitches. My initial reaction was that I am not coordinated enough to do this without fear of cutting holes in the top which I am trying to salvage. But as the destruction progressed at a snail’s pace, and my sinuses started getting more and more stirred up by the dust from the 60 year old quilt batting (that was determined not to leave without a struggle), I decided that the places where there was a great deal of quilting stitches to remove (i.e. right around the SBS’s), there was also enough batting left to protect the quilt top from the blade. This has been the best advice I could have received and therefore I wanted to make sure and share it with any of you considering such a project for yourself. Over this weekend I have made much more progress than I could have imagined – at least based on the glacial progress I’d made up to that point. There are only three blocks left to unquilt, then I’ll be done with messing with the old batting, and down to removing the blocks from the sashing. More importantly, it will be my first chance to truly assess the condition of the individual blocks. It feels like progress!

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July 9, 2007 - Posted by | Quilting and Hobbies (wishing I had 'spare' time)


  1. It is good to hear of the progress you are making. Slow, but sure will get you there 🙂

    Comment by Helen in the UK | July 9, 2007 | Reply

  2. I’m glad the rotary cutter is working for you. I hope the edges of the blocks don’t fall apart when you do the next part. What a labor of love – it must be a really, really good friend. Becky in KCMO

    BSue said: I was surprised at how fresh looking the seam allowances on the back of the blocks look. Of course, that may change when I start unsewing them – but there is actually almost no raveling on the back of the top. Thanks for the hint about the rotary cutter – I couldn’t remember who it was but it sure helped speed things up.
    And I feel blessed to have a friend who would entrust a quilt this special to my hands, and pray that God will continue to guide my ripping, and restitching.

    Comment by rball | July 13, 2007 | Reply

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