Thursday, August 2, 2012

Little Boy Blue Appliques by Kathy Grimm

The pattern above is my version of a "Little Boy Blue" figure I found on an early 20th Century crib quilt. Remember to add an additional 1/8 inch seam allowance to the pattern above after tracing each shape separately. This is a early nursery rhyme figure that predates the farmer boy patterns designed to compliment Sunbonnet Sue. His shoes and skirt-like shirt are from the 1800s fashions of peasant children. By the time the farmer boy designs were being drafted, overalls, cowboy inspired straw hats, and square toed boots were the common attire of boys working on Midwestern farms. Click here to also download the Little Bo Peep pattern drafted from the same crib quilt. I have made a few necessary changes in both patterns to the shoes, shirts, hooks and horns.

Perhaps Gainsborough's
most famous work, it is
thought to be a portrait of
Jonathan Buttall,
the son of a wealthy
hardware merchant.
Origins of The Pattern's Name: "Little Boy Blue" is an English language nursery rhyme, often used in popular culture. The earliest printed version of the rhyme is in Tommy Thumb's Little Song Book (c. 1744), but the rhyme may be much older. It may be alluded to in Shakespeare's King Lear (III, vi) when Edgar, masquerading as Mad Tom, says:

"Sleepest or wakest thou, jolly shepheard? 
Thy sheepe be in the corne; 
And for one blast of thy minikin mouth 
 Thy sheepe shall take no harme." 

 It has been argued that Little Boy Blue was intended to represent Cardinal Wolsey, who was the son of an Ipswich butcher, who may have acted as a hayward to his father's livestock, but there is no corroborative evidence to support this assertion. The most common version of the rhyme is:

 Little Boy Blue, 
Come blow your horn, 
The sheep's in the meadow, 
The cow's in the corn; 
Where is that boy 
Who looks after the sheep? 
Under the haystack 
Fast asleep. 
Will you wake him? 
Oh no, not I, 
 For if I do 
He will surely cry. 

1901 illustration by William Wallace Denslow.
"Little Boy Blue" by Denslow for your next baby blanket.

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