Learn how to piece a bear paw quilt block and get inspired by these cute and colorful bear claw quilt patterns.
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For me, there’s always been something intriguing about the bear claw quilt block. Even when we first started discovering the world of quilt blocks, the bear paw always managed to catch my attention.
I don’t know if it’s the catchy bear paw name that you don’t expect for a quilt block or the fact that you can make a cute little (or scary big) paw just of half square triangles and squares. Either way, I knew I wanted to write a blog post about it and here we are.
I’ll take you through different bear paw block variations and show you some playful bear paw quilts. And by the time we’re done, hopefully, you’ll feel inspired to make a bear paw quilt of your own!
What is a Bear Paw Quilt Block?
A bear paw quilt block (sometimes also called a bear claw quilt block) is an old classic quilt block that resembles a bear paw.
There seem to be two versions of the block that are generally acknowledged as the basic bear paw block. Sometimes you’ll see a single paw as the basic block, while other times, a layout of four paws is considered one block.
Since the name is paw in singular I consider a single one-paw block to be the basic bear paw block. But there are indeed many interesting variations that I will get to in a bit.
As you can see in the diagrams, the bear paw quilt block is made just of half square triangles and squares. This gives a quilter (that’s you!) so many possibilities: make it look classic or modern, fresh and bold or light and gentle…
When you see all the bear claw quilt block pattern examples at the end of the article, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
How to Make a Bear Claw Quilt Block?
To make a bear claw quilt block you will need:
4x half-square triangles (HSTs) for claws ) (read our tutorial on how to make half square triangles)
1x small square for the background between the claws,
1x large square for the paw.
Sew the pieces together as shown in the diagram. You will get a square basic bear claw block, that can be combined into different compositions.
Bear Paw Quilt Block Variations
Beside choosing different colors and prints, there are different ways to play with the piecing and layout of the blocks to create new and exciting combinations.
Playing with the Large Square
A great way to achieve an interesting variation of the basic block is by playing with the large square piece.
Instead of using just one large square, piece it from smaller squares and/or rectangles. Or maybe use a large HST. The possibilities are endless. See some examples in the illustration below.
Double Bear Paw Block
The double bear paw block is another variation of the bear claw block that is commonly used. It is made of a classic bear paw block, where the outer rows of HST claws are multiplied, as shown in the illustration.
Bigger Quilt Blocks Made of Bear Paw Quilt Block
Of course, the real fun begins once you start laying multiple bear paw blocks together. I just love the huge field of possibilities the block gives you. Below are just a few ideas on how to form new shapes using the same bear paw block. Sometimes it is even hard to notice that the bear claw block is used, right?
Bear Paw Quilt Block with Sashing
As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes you will find a bear paw quilt block name used for a block pieced with four basic bear claw quilt blocks with a cross (which is basically just sashing with a cornerstone) in the middle. As shown in the illustration below, they still form a squared block. This central block composition reminds me of a flower where paws become leaves. There are some nice examples of patterns using these blocks at the end of the article.
Bear Paw Quilt Patterns
Now that you know everything about the bear paw quilt block in theory, let’s take a look at this block in action. Below are some of my favorite projects and patterns making use of this versatile block. Let’s dive right in!
This lovely Bear Hugs by Meadow Mist Designs is a simple pattern and a perfect quilting project for beginners. I like the impression of an endless bear paw texture, which makes it seem as if the quilt is just a little part of an endless bear paw design. This is a fat quarter and scrap-friendly quilt pattern.
This colorful Bear Tracks quilt was inspired by Rachel Hauser’s book The Quilter’s Field Guide to Color where the quilting color theory is taught through bear paw quilt blocks. Juliane made this colorful Bear Tracks quilt with the same-sized bear claw blocks and versatile colors and prints choices. It is a perfect pattern to put on the scrap quilt patterns to-do list.
Cath from Wombat Quilts also followed Rachel’s book tutorial and made this lively bear paw quilt, made of different block sizes. She chose one color for each block and then played with different color values, tints, and shades … I love the bright, colorful quilt that reminds me of a bouquet of tulips.
P. S. Wondering, what all these color expressions mean? Read about colors in quilting in learn how to choose colors that always work in Ula’s Color Wheel Post).
Would you say this is a bear claw pattern? To me, the central composition and the colorway make the pattern look so floral. I love how the edges of the blocks blend with the background and s create the impression of leaves.
Oh, these spring colors just got me. s, It’s not surprising that this pattern was inspired by spring tulips and bears. You might not see the bear paws at first sight but if you look closely, you’ll see it really just multiple variations of the bear paw quilt block! The right color choice makes you see bear paws and tulips at the same time.
I just looooooove these bright, vivid colors and the way Meghan from Then Came June turned the bear paw quilt block into a super modern pattern. She made an in-depth post, explaining how she designed the pattern block by block, showing the process of choosing colors, and piecing the quilt step-by-step. And you don’t even have to read about it – she made an awesome photo-visual story.
This modern quilt pattern was designed as a sew-along project and published in Love Patchwork & Quilting, block by block with tutorials and colorway suggestions. I love the freshness of chosen colors and the modern geometric look all variations of the bear paw blocks create.
The Three Bears pattern is actually just one big bear paw block with a sashing. The surprise here is that a second and third paw come up inside the large one making it look like a growing paw or a cute bear family. A great example of a traditional quilt block turned modern, especially when bright solids are used.
This is actually not a pattern with instructions on how to make it, but proof that quilts and quilt designs really are timeless. Would you guess this is 100 years old? Sure, there are some signs of use (thankfully so!), but the design is truly evergreen. It got my attention with its simplicity and monochromatic color choice. And look how the hand stitching is done, so beautiful.
Hope this wildlife got you inspired! We would love to see your wild side, so if you ever make a bear paw quilt of your own let us know in the comments below.