Friday, December 07, 2007

My Sunbonnet Sue Christmas Stockings


Sunbonnet Sue, her brother Sam, and all of their variations, live on and on.... in sewing as well as in quilting and craft. I made these Christmas stockings 21 years ago. Making the first two for DD#1 and DS#1 and then 10 years later, creating and adding the third stocking after the birth of DD#2.

I remember how I frantically searched through all of my old stash remnants, hoping to find leftover pieces from the original fabrics and prints. Oh, how happy I was (I can still remember it) when I found the original muslin, most of the early prints, and even the old patterns I had drawn on newsprint.

Applique was my craft of love back then. I used to applique anything and everything in sight. One Christmas I appliqued my entire extended family's names on a sweatshirt each. I remember mailing 21 of them up to Alaska....all made within two weeks of frantic sewing and applique. My brothers and SIL's and all of my little nieces and nephews proudly posed for a group photo after receiving them, and I still have and still love that photo today. That old photo has aged, yellow-oranging like most old photos from that era, as bit by bit they begin to disappear. But the memories of them and those wonderful times live on.

Like those photos, my early decorations had lots of yellow and even orange amidst all of the other bright colors. My children's early Christmas's were all bright red, bright grass green, a dark true blue, and vibrant sunshine yellow. My early Christmas trees all had a gigantic yoyo garland strung round and round. All of my scraps saved and put to good use in creating something new to love and to use. Every other bit of Christmas was home made. I used those colors and those decorations for almost two decades.

We'd moved to the "country" 30 years ago and I can still remember as I made these how I created the designs so all of the 'sunbonnets' could be working on kind of a "Christmas down at the farm" kind of theme. DD#1 watered holly, *DS in *2, drove a tractor through the Christmas tree growing farm and finally, DD*3, in her fancy hat, carried a little basket of the holly with all of her brother's trees around her.

I have new colors now, new decorations and an expanded family with the addition of a DIL. These stockings are no longer hung by the fireplace with care, but now hang from garlands looped across our loft railings. It was never "out with the old and in with the new"...but it was a new way to create a set of combined traditions as we merged one family's traditions with an other's. Like the fabric in these stockings, I had to hunt to remember and find, patch together to create, and then merge and blend to create anew.

The three little "Sunbonnet Sues" stockings look down into the living room now. They greet everyone who enters and they give them a place to rest their eyes and reclaim their memories of Christmases, past. They are a reminder to all of us, how much we have always loved Christmas, working and playing together, and how all of those memories of distant times are still carried in our hearts. They remind me with every single glance, of just how much I used to love and still love, through better and worse, Christmas and sewing gifts at Christmas time.

And they remind my children and fill them....just as these stockings used to be filled...with all of the wonderful memories, through years and now even decades of years, of Christmases past, Christmas now, and Christmases still to come. We still have stockings, we still have stocking stuffers, but the why's and the how's are just blended together now.

All that we make, and all that we do, lives on. Those wonderful times, and places, and people and yes, even things, make up the true fabric of our lives. And like these appliqued patchwork stockings, even the broken places can be mended. We can create a new and even stronger memory of where we have been, what we have accomplished and what we still hope to do. We never truly ever lose anything or anybody. We were always a part of them, and they of us, in the patchwork quilt of our lives.

In bits and in pieces, through good times and even bad, the scraps and the trimmings, the pieces and the patches, are all part of who we have been, are now, and perhaps even show us who we are yet to become.

Sunbonnet Sue: Free Quilt Patterns

3 comments:

  1. Great stockings and wonderful memories. Each of my DD's have the stockings I made them for their first Christmas over 30 yers ago.

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  2. These are wonderful stockings and memories you have shared. Your writing is very good and I enjoyed the whole post.

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  3. Isn't it interesting how Christmas decorations induce memories. They can be cheapy plastic things or intricate handmade things but seeing them only once a year for some reason brings a rush of nostalgia. And I guess age does it too. I doubt that when I was 18 or 20 I thought twice about the decorations.

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Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.