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Thread: Rhondas Bear's Paw Class - Quilt Block Lesson

  1. #1
    Power Poster Rhonda's Avatar
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    Welcome to my Bear’s Paw Class

    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.
    11 measure

    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
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    Sew 2 strips together
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    The other half are cut from the right side. This is easier to do if you turn them upside down.
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    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.
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    Place two HSTs together and tack a stitch on the ends where the seam will go through
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    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
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    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
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    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.
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    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
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    Ok here is the first paw untrimmed
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    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.
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    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.
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    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
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    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.
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    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.
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    Sew the dark center to one of the sashing strips.
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    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.
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    Trim the dark center to 3/4" or the 5/8" whichever you are using.
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    Trim one straight side
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    Sew the sashing to the first two paws
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  2. #2
    Power Poster Rhonda's Avatar
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    Continuing on....

    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
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    Tack where all the seams connect with the sashing, this will help to keep your lines in place as you sew
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    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.
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    Here the dark squares line up much better. The blues are all the same fabric. I have no idea why they look differant.
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    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.
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    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.
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  3. #3
    Power Poster Rhonda's Avatar
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    Next week we will work on the checkbook cover. It will need a full quilt block for the center. There are options you can do with this. You can make 2 more halves and put one half on each side of the center quilt block for the top of your checkbook cover. You can use strips to see on each end of the top with the one Bear's Paw quilt block in the center. Or you can put a row of HSTs on each side of the center Bear's Paw Quilt Block. You are welcome to come up with any way you like to finish out the top of the checkbook cover. The center will be the Bear's Paw. The top will measure appox. 8" x 4 1/2"to5"

    Hope you enjoy these lessons!!! I will post the checkbook lesson next Friday and then the bookmark the next Friday. I think I offered a coin purse also and I will show that one the following Friday.

    Thanks everyone!! I hope you have fun!! Don't stress out and if you need any help just let me know!!!

  4. #4
    Power Poster Rhonda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smitty
    sorry, but I would hate to see a beginner quilter think this
    is the way to construct a Bear Paw block. use a HST method that does not have bias edges, make them a little big so you can trim to accurate size. sew all pieces together with accurate 1/4" seams and be done with it. establish good sewing habits & they will always serve you well.
    now I will get off my soap box !
    But that won't work for a miniature. The projects I am teaching requires a smaller size than 1 1/4" So if you want to cut out a 1" HST then go for it. I do use 1" but not many are able to do that. To make a 4" Bear's paw won't work with a 1 1/4" HST. I do it this way because it makes the tiny piecing possible. This is to make it easier for accuracy. I have never had any problem with bias in any size quilt block I have made. I have used this method for almost 10 years and have made dozens of hot pads and coin purses and mini quilts with this method. This makes the tiny piecing not so scary.

    Sometimes a few extra steps are worth it. But that is up to each quilter. What works for me may not work for others. I just provide my methods and if anyone wants to use them the fine and if it doesn't work for you that is fine too. Each to their own.

  5. #5
    Super Member klgreene's Avatar
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    Jun 2010
    Clovis, NM
    Thanks Rhonda.... I will start cutting the strips tonight, but going any further has to wait until morning. I'm better in the mornings. And I want to do you justice......

  6. #6
    Super Member dream56's Avatar
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    Thanks Rhonda - I love miniatures.

  7. #7
    Super Member OmaForFour's Avatar
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    Thanks Rhonda. This is wonderful. Works beautifully!

  8. #8
    Super Member sawsan's Avatar
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    What to do ? I do not have this tiny ruler so it makes my work easier and quiker?can i trim with 6"*12"
    rorrr what is your sugestions ?
    What is HSTS

  9. #9
    Power Poster Rhonda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sawsan
    What to do ? I do not have this tiny ruler so it makes my work easier and quiker?can i trim with 6"*12"
    rorrr what is your sugestions ?
    What is HSTS
    the 1/4" template is to cut out the half square triangles or HSTs blocks. I can send you one or you can use a ruler. If you know how to make a half square triangle block you can make them however you are used to making them. After you make one then you will need to cut it down to the 1" size. Does this make sense to you?

    If you need the template send me your postal address in a pm. Just click on my name and then click on pm and leave me your message and I will get one in the mail to you! Thanks!!

  10. #10
    Super Member Evie's Avatar
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    This look like something I can do! I'm working on a postage stamp quilt, so maybe this size won't be TOO intimidating. :) Thanks for the lesson, Rhonda.

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