Accuracy equals success. Not perfection but being aware and taking steps to prevent problems before they happen.
1 Straight seams (use a drawn line to sew on if straight is hard for you).
2 Cut accurately (Trim where needed for a square square)
3 Measure constantly
4 Check each step and if it needs redone do it now not later.
5 Look at seams as you join pieces together and make sure your overall look is straight with the other seams
If you are accurate when you cut and if you are accurate in piecing the squares together you will have a good Bear’s Paw. But you have to be able to have all 4 Bear’s Paws the exact same size to make them fit together so the lines are all in line. I don’t like to see a Bear’s Paw quilt block where the Paws don’t line up across the sashings. Maybe this is a bit picky of me but I think it breaks the picture up like a cracked mirror when lines aren’t across from each other. So I am going to show you how I use my cut down method to make this happen to create a good picture.
Now there will be some waste but to get a good accurate Bear’s Paw I think it is worth it.
The second reason to use my cut down method is really probably the main reason I started using this process. It is hard to work with small pieces and this way you have more to hang onto and still get the size you want. You can use this method for larger quilt blocks or smaller quilt blocks.
You will need:
1 strip of light 1 ½” x 6 ½”
2 strip of light 1 ½” x 9 ½”
1 strip of light 1 ¼’ x 10”
2 strips of dark 1 ½” x 9 ½”
1 dark square 1 ½” doesn’t have to be exact as you will be cutting it down
Ruler and a 1 ¼” template. I like to use a 2”( or whatever size is required for the size of quilt block you are making) template to cut the paws but you can do it with a ruler. A template is just a smidge more accurate and less trouble to do.
1 sew strips
2 cut out HSTs
3 trim HSTS
4 sew pairs of HSTs together
5 sew one pair HSTs to corner light
6 sew second pair HSTs to center dark
7 trim each set of joined fabrics
8 sew center set to corner set
9 Trim both sides of HSTs to 1/4" seam allowance
10 Trim the center to square it.
Your measurement should be based on having a good ¼” between the point and the edge. If you don’t have that then you need to fix it now. This is the place most people have trouble because they just do the steps without paying any attention to whether the fabric pieces are where they should be.
You need the HSTs to be in the same place on the center in all 4 paws. I use to just put them together and then I would find some paws would be right and some paws would be off a bit here and there. You need to measure and you need to compare the paws as you go along so they are all the same size.
So here we go!!
All the strips and square you need
Sew 2 strips together
Lay your 1 1/4" template on the seam on point. Make sure the corners are on the seam and that they don't move off of the seam as you cut
Continue to cut out the squares. When you get to the end you can pull the leftovers apart and sew along the other side to have another set of joined strips. You can continue to cut out the squares
After you get all the HSTs cut out then you need to trim them all to 1" But half of them are cut from the left side
The other half are cut from the right side. This is easier to do if you turn them upside down.
Here are two of the claws. A left and a right. This method is designed to allow you to cut smaller but because the length is still 1 1/4" you aren't handling a 1" square. More to hang on to and this will allow us to cut down later for better accuracy.
Place two HSTs together and tack a stitch on the ends where the seam will go through
Here are the pieces of the first paw laid out. I cut the 1 1/2" x 6 light strip into 4 pieces. And the dark strip was also cut into 4 pieces The traditional way is to cut out each piece accurately with a template. That is fine but I found it hard to get everything to line up. If I cut it too small then I had to start over. This way you will cut down and have better accuracy and no starting over if something didn't fit
Sew both sets of HSTs together and then sew the white swatch to the left set of HSTs and the right set of HSTs to the dark swatch
Trim both sets on the sides that will be sewn together. The right side of the set with the white swatch and the left side of the set with the dark swatch. Again I turned it upside down to trim it as it was easier.
Now you are ready to sew the two sets together. Place the two seams in the center together. I like to tack them together to keep them from shifting. You can bend the fabric down to make sure they are lined up right
Ok here is the first paw untrimmed
Using a ruler or a template trim the claws to within a 1 1/4" for the seam allowance. If you like you can add a 1/8' to that or so for when you trim the whole quilt block you can get a more accurate square quilt block. One of my paws wasn't quite square. so leaving just a bit more at this step might help later on.
Here is the first paw. Measure the dark center to determine the exact size it ended up. Mine was 2 1/8" . So when you do the other 3 they need to be the same size. You don't want them to vary more than a hair as it will make it impossible to get them to square up in the whole quilt block.
Continue to make the other 3 paws. Keeping in mind that they need to be the same size as the first one. I turn each one over and place it on the first one to make sure it is the same. Now is the time to trim if you need to so they match. Now you need to cut the 1 1/4' x 10" strip into 3 pieces. This is the sashing that goes in between the paws
Sew the sashing strip to the left hand paw. Don't start the strip even with the top of the paw because you will get a more accurate cut if you trim it instead.
Trim the top even and then trim the sashing to 3/4" from the seam. When we do the check book cover we will trim it to 5/8" instead. So if you want to use this for the checkbook cover next week you should trim to 5/8" now.
Sew the dark center to one of the sashing strips.
Sew the other paw to the sashing strip. Make sure your lines of the top of the dark center are in line with each other. I didn't show it here but you will need to trim the bottom of the joined paws too.
Trim the dark center to 3/4" or the 5/8" whichever you are using.
Trim one straight side
Sew the sashing to the first two paws
Sew the second half to the sashing. Make sure you line up the seams on each side of the center dark square with the seams on the second half. Also make sure your dark centers line up with the first half of the paws
Tack where all the seams connect with the sashing, this will help to keep your lines in place as you sew
With using tacks in stead of pins you can open the pieces and see whether the lines of the dark centers are going to line up with each other. As you can see I didn't have it quite right so I had to fix it.
Here the dark squares line up much better. The blues are all the same fabric. I have no idea why they look differant.
Here is the quilt block all sewn together. As most quilters I can point out the things that aren't right. In the center the top left and the bottom right seams don't meet up right. They are overlapping just a tad. But oh well! It's by no means perfect.
Yeah!!!! We are at the end!!! Here is my Bear's Paw Quilt Block hanging from one of my nails on my shelves. Now I need to decide what to do with it.