Some quilt blocks just exude cozy feelings, and they are so fun to use to make comfy, cuddly quilts.
One of those blocks is the bear paw quilt block.
This post will teach you the history and meaning behind this versatile quilt block.
We’ll also show you a simple beginner-friendly tutorial on making a bear paw block, and then we’ll check out 17 gorgeous examples of quilts that feature our focal block.
- What Does the Bear Claw Quilt Pattern Mean?
- How to Make a Bear Claw Quilt Block
- 17 Beautiful Bear Paw Quilt Patterns You’ll Want To Try
- 1. Wash Your Paws
- 2. The Bear Pack
- 3. Scrappy Bear Paw Quilt
- 4. Big Bear Cabin Quilt
- 5. Giant Bear Paw Baby Quilt
- 6. A Year of Bear Paws
- 7. Bear Tracks
- 8. Scrappin’ Up a Bear Paw Star
- 9. Beary Happy
- 10. Archie
- 11. So Beary in Love
- 12. Paw Tracks
- 13. Bear and Bear Paw
- 14. Wild Tracks
- 15. Bearly
- 16. Waltzing with Bears
- 17. Double Bear Paw
What Does the Bear Claw Quilt Pattern Mean?
You may be able to guess, but the bear paw quilt got its name from the resemblance the design has to a large bear’s paw.
The pattern has several other names, such as cat’s paw and duck’s foot in the mud. We don’t know when and who created the first bear paw quilt block, but it gained popularity around the end of the 19th century.
Some quilt historians believe the bear paw may have been one of the many quilt blocks used during the Underground Railroad to help those escaping slavery.
The bear claw told them to follow bear tracks to find food and water on their arduous journey. Pretty impressive, right?
How to Make a Bear Claw Quilt Block
Now, let’s make a simple version of the bear paw block. What size is a bear paw block? You can make this block in any size block you need for your quilt design. This tutorial will show you how to make a finished 12” quilt block.
- Cut all the fabric
For these blocks, you will need to cut the following pieces:
- 4- 4 ½” squares (blue)
- 1- 2 ¼” square (blue)
- 8- 2 ⅜” squares (blue
- 8- 2 ⅜” squares (purple)
- 8- 2 ¼” squares (purple)
- 4- 2 ¼” x 4 ½” rectangles (purple)
- Create 16 HSTs
You can follow our tutorial here on how to make two half-square triangles at a time. Trim each HST to 2 ¼” square.
- Sew the pieces together to create rows.
- Sew the rows together to complete the block.
17 Beautiful Bear Paw Quilt Patterns You’ll Want To Try
Is the Bear Paw quilt pattern easy? As you can see from the tutorial, it is a great beginner quilt pattern. Let’s check out some examples of what’s possible with this fun quilt block.
1. Wash Your Paws
This beautiful free pattern creates an extra-large bear paw design over the entire quilt top. This is a great pattern to use if you have a fat quarter bundle with beautiful patterns that you want to use for a quilt. The finished quilt measures 63” square.
2. The Bear Pack
Here is another free pattern that features a simple yet beautiful bear paw. The blocks are pieced on point and are arranged in a unique modern pattern. The instructions will help you make a 47” x 47” quilt top.
3. Scrappy Bear Paw Quilt
Here’s a fantastic example of a scrappy-style bear claw quilt pattern. The maker of this quilt used brightly colored Kaffe Fasset fabrics for the bear paw blocks and low-volume cream and white fabrics for the background. She includes some simple instructions on how to make a quilt like this.
4. Big Bear Cabin Quilt
Wow, look how gorgeous this quilt is! This quilt utilizes a quarter log cabin block and bear paw block in a fabulous scrappy design. This is a perfect example of how you can combine two traditional blocks to make a modern quilt pattern.
5. Giant Bear Paw Baby Quilt
This is a free pattern from The Polka Dot Chair. If you are a beginner quilter, this is an excellent choice. This quilt will come together quickly and works great with a layer cake precut bundle.
6. A Year of Bear Paws
This quilt features four sizes of bear paw blocks. This is a great way to use scraps from other projects. The maker made these blocks throughout the year and created a gorgeous quilt by the end of the year.
7. Bear Tracks
This rainbow-themed bear paw quilt has a unique layout with all the “paws” facing up. It almost looks like actual bear tracks! This layout would be a fun design for a kid’s quilt.
8. Scrappin’ Up a Bear Paw Star
The construction of this block is a bit different from our simple tutorial and creates some fun angles on the classic bear paw block. It looks gorgeous in these autumn colors. This block is from a sampler quilt pattern by Fig Tree and Co.
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9. Beary Happy
This is another fun scrappy bear claw quilt perfect for all those leftover scraps you have from other projects. This pattern will help you make an 81” x 81” quilt. You can easily add or subtract blocks to make a different size quilt.
This is a beautiful modern twist on the bear paw pattern. The blocks are separated by bold chain blocks that give this quilt a cozy vibe. The pattern includes four sizes and is fat-quarter-friendly.
11. So Beary in Love
How cute is this sweet pattern? You can use this block pattern to make any size quilt. The block measures 17” x 17”, but you combine it with other blocks, or you could make several to make an entire quilt top.
12. Paw Tracks
Here’s another fantastic modern quilt with a classic bear claw block. For this beginner-friendly pattern, you can use charm packs, layer cakes, or fat-quarters. The pattern includes three sizes to choose from.
13. Bear and Bear Paw
I could not resist including this adorable pattern since it has bear paw blocks AND actual bear blocks! With this pattern, you can make a 50” x 62” or a 78” x 78” quilt. This is the perfect cozy quilt pattern for winter.
14. Wild Tracks
This beginner-friendly pattern features two bear paw block sizes. You can use yardage or scraps for this lovely quilt design. The finished quilt measures 72” x 84”.
Robin Pickens is known for her modern quilt patterns, and “Bearly” is a fantastic addition to her collection. You only need four solid fabrics to make these beautiful bear paw blocks. The pattern sizes include lap, twin, and queen.
16. Waltzing with Bears
This quilt uses blank space in a fun way by making it look like the bear paw blocks are tracks around the larger centerpiece. The finished quilt size is 56 ½” x 56 ½”. It may appear more complex than other patterns in this compilation, but it’s an excellent beginner quilting project.
17. Double Bear Paw
You can use this pattern to make a 17 ½” square mini quilt or several of these blocks to make a larger quilt. The block features four mini bear paw blocks in each larger bear paw block. I would love to see this design in a scrappy version.
I hope this collection of bear paw quilt patterns has inspired you to make a cozy quilt for your next quilt project. This block is so versatile and looks great in traditional and modern patterns.
About the author: Miriam Ronne is a lover of all things quilting and sewing. She is a self-taught quilter and is constantly learning and broadening her skill set to create one-of-a-kind quilts! When she’s not behind her sewing machine you can find her playing with her fur babies or trying her hand at other crafty things.