Friday, March 22, 2019

Vintage Reimagined: Oklahoma Dogwood

When I saw that the March theme for the Island Batik Ambassadors was Vintage Reimagined, I knew exactly what pattern inspiration I wanted to use.  My paternal grandmother, Mildred, was a quilter.  Unfortunately, our quilting years never overlapped.  About two years ago my dad brought me a box of quilting related stuff that his sister had put together for me.  In that box were three patterns that Mildred saved from Mountain Mist batting when they included a pattern on the backside of the wrapper.  One of those patterns was Oklahoma Dogwood with a copyright date of 1949.

Oklahoma Dogwood
Well, if that isn't the perfect pattern name for me, I don't know what is.  Obviously, with a blog named The Darling Dogwood, I have a love for dogwoods.  They have always been among my favorite signs of spring and have the distinction of being the state flower of both the state where I was born (Virginia) and the state where I live (North Carolina).  And though I've never lived in Oklahoma, I have roots there.  Grandma Mildred was born in Oklahoma Territory in 1905.  My grandfather Oakley was born in Oklahoma Territory in 1902; both are buried in Oklahoma.  My dad and his sister were both born in Oklahoma. 

Here's what is included about the origin of this pattern:  The "Oklahoma Dogwood" quilt is an original and conventional design by Harriet Smith.  A Blue Ribbon Winner at the Long Island Fair, this quilt has had recognition at the Women's International Exposition of Arts and Industries at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

My Grandmother's Handwriting
 Being a pattern from 1949, the pieces were intended to be cut from a template and weren't what would today be considered a standard size. One part of my re-imagining was to use more modern construction methods like strip-piecing.  I photo-copied the pattern and made myself templates from the basic shapes.
templates made from poster board
Then I used strip piecing to create checkerboard blocks.  For the smaller blossoms, I made five 4-patch units and sewed them together in a cross.  Then I centered the template on top, traced with a frixion pen, and cut out the blossom shape.

I knew I didn't want the weight of a fusible web on the entire shape, so I used a new-to-me product, Wonder Tape by Dritz.  It's a wash-away double-sided fusible tape that is 1/4" wide.  I cut a few strips and places them around the perimeter of the blossom.  I just needed it to stay adhered to the background for long enough to stitch around the edges. 

Yes, I label my paper scissors "paper ok"
Here it is with the paper back peeled off the Wonder Tape.  The background fabric is Swirl in Opal. I love the subtle color changes in the swirl patterns.  Each of the small blossoms in the corner of the finished quilt is a 12" finished square.

For the large center dogwood blossom, I made a 16-patch block for each petal.  Since dogwoods have four petals on each blossom, I made four 16-patch blocks.  Then I used my petal template to trace and cut the shape.  When appliqueing to the background, I fused and stitched two petals opposite each other first, then I added the other two petals.  It appears I forgot to take pictures of this step.  The center block with the large dogwood blossom is 24" square.

The fabrics were provided to me by Island Batik.  Hobbs also provided materials that I used in this project. I went through everything sent to me by Island Batik and picked out all the pink.  Most dogwood tress in my area have white blossoms but I do occasionally see a pink dogwood.  I had surprisingly little pink.  Remember the pink Island Batik fabrics I bought on Local Quilt Shop Day?  I bought those to supplement my pinks for this project.

I did not use the bottom fabric, it was too purple when combined with the other fabrics
fabrics from my stash builder bundles
I used a pink variegated thread from King Tut that I've had forever to blanket stitch around all of the dogwood blossoms.

I used a silk blend batting from Hobbs Tuscany Collection.  This was my first time using silk batting and I loved how it stitched. 

I quilted Oklahoma Dogwood with a large continuous spiral.  I set my stitch guide at just under an inch. That's much more dense than I normally quilt but I absolutely love the texture it has now. I used another King Tut variegated thread, Mummy's Dearest.  It has a subtle change of pastel colors.  I love how the soft color changes mimic the color variations in the Island Batik background fabric.
spiral quilting
It's worth noting that my version uses far fewer dogwood blossoms than the original.  I found an image from the International Quilt Study Center & Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska of an Oklahoma Dogwood quilt circa 1949. You can see it here.  Be sure to hover over the photo to see close-ups of the hand quilting.

My Oklahoma Dogwood finishes at 48" square.  I love this quilt so much!  I'm so glad that I found the quilt pattern that my Grandmother set aside all those years ago.  Thanks, Island Batik, for giving me the opportunity to recreate a vintage quilt!


  1. I think your grandmother would be delighted that you are carrying on the quilting legacy and would love this little quilt! I like the modern simplicity of the design, and that spiral quilting is so cool. Nice finish, Emily!

  2. Great minds think alike except you pieced your pink checkerboard! I love it. Its a great quilt and I really want to do that circular quilting soon!! I may have to design one of the next IB projects for that....otherwise it will never happen!

  3. This is so pretty! I’m sure your grandmother would be so proud of you 💕 I was born and raised in SC so am very familiar with the bequity of the dogwood :)

  4. A very pretty quilt! Thanks for the heads-up on the Wonder Tape, I will keep an eye out for that!

  5. So pretty, and so appropriate for you! Ah, and it makes me wish spring was in full bloom here...soon.

  6. A beautiful quilt to welcome Spring as well as to honor your grandma.

  7. Wow, love your quilt story, Emily!, including your grandmother and dogwoods! And I love how you have the link to see the original quilt. Really interesting!

  8. Turned out wonderfully, and what a legacy your grandmother left you.

  9. wonderful quilt, with an even more wonderful story.