Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Bear Paw Progress

With seven days left in the month, I thought I should give you an update on my Island Batik challenge quilt for September. We are to create a juvenile-inspired quilt, minimum 45X60" using the die we were sent in Box #2. I got the Bear Paw die, which, you may recall from my box opening video, was the very first quilt block I ever made, and which is responsible for the utter obsession with all things quilts!

So why have I been stalling on this month's project? Two reasons: one is that I couldn't come up with a design that grabbed me, and two is that I was nervous about the die. I know! I've used the AccuQuilt dies several times, and they are slick, but this one made me 'concerned' because I knew I wanted to do multi-coloured bear paw blocks and the die is such that you cut one block at a pass...or two... or three! Took me a bit but a little reading of instructions (I'm good at that, always have been) and then thinking about said instructions, and then putting them into practice, with my own spin on things, and we are off!
Parts cut for four blocks
Here is the Bear Paw block in EQ8:
Already it's three colours. Here is my colouring of it for my quilt:

One of the purposes, I believe, to completing these challenges, is to showcase as many fabrics as possible, and I have a lovely green in my sets of Basics and Blenders that I intended to use for this quilt:
The green I planned to use is the one on the bottom lower left. Blue and green is my favourite colour combination, so choosing fabrics was never an issue for this quilt.


I didn't want to just do a traditional quilt setting; I wanted it to have a modern flair, so in EQ8 I played around... There are lots of pics to follow, but this is to show you just how quickly (time can go in EQ lol) but how quickly you can change up quilt layouts and colours. I've recently learned about the 'Swap Colour' button - love!
Layout 1 taking some elements away - oh my...
 And that was when it happened... I saw a star up there; do you?

Layout 2 accentuating the star effect.
 Now swapping colours to be more in line with my batik colours. Thinking ooh, maybe black and white with just two colours?

What about a rainbow idea?

Maybe 4-patches instead of a single colour centre in those star areas?

Then I looked at the size requirements again. Oops. The quilt has to be a minimum 45 X 60". The blocks are 14" finished, so the above layouts only yield 44" square quilts.

Let's try a 4X4 grid, with no borders, which is non-traditional, and would yield a 56" square quilt. I put in more of the single paw blocks and real life called so I had to walk away from EQ. Then, when I went to reopen the project, I saw in the thumbnail, with a little tweaking, the possibility of the paws walking around the four centre blocks in a diamond shape:
However, I wondered if it was too minimalist, with only four complete bear paw blocks? So I put full bear paw blocks in the corners:

Maybe. I let things percolate over the weekend while I made some smaller projects (makeup pouches and two more placemats for Dayna). I've now settled on the second last design; negative space is one of the components of a modern quilt, and the last one feels a bit too busy to me.


I decided to run some fabric from my stash as a test for how to get multiple colours from this one die. They show you how to place the fabric to get a two-colour block, so I used some brain power, so good for the aging brain, and I mean that seriously, not facetiously. After the first pass to get the 'paw' and the 'claws' I remembered a tip from using the Go! Qube HST dies: layer your background and main fabric on the die RST and your pairs are all set ready to feed into your machine. It's really slick.

I then set to work with the Island Batik fabric.
Fabric RST; six layers
You can feed six layers through the cutter at a time, so three pairs, which will yield 12 sets of HSTs. I need 16 per block for the 'claws.'

Note how I am covering just the HST section of the die.

Now for the background 2.5 X 6.5" rectangles and the 2.5" squares that go in the four corners.

Pretty slick, yes? I elected to cut the four green and four purple 2.5" squares by hand. In no time at all I had enough for four no, two blocks of HST pairs, enough of the rest of the block parts for four! I didn't realize there are 16, not 8, pairs per block.😖

The blocks came together in no time at all. I can't tell you how much I love the HST dies. Yes, there is some wasted fabric, but the ears are cut off, which actually saves fabric since you only need a 2.5" wide strip, not a 2 7/8" or 3" strip to make these the full triangle (points left on) way. And, there's no squaring up needed. Feed 'em through chain sewing style, snip apart, press, done.

Excuse the bit of the front door mat; the front step had the best light after supper!
Look at those points!! And isn't that cloud-style blue batik fantastic? I hadn't realized just how fantastic until I cut it up and started piecing the blocks. Wow! Thank you so much to Island Batik for providing the luscious fabrics with which I get to work, and to AccuQuilt for pushing me out of my comfort zone!

Okay, back to some more cutting with the die (yup, I quite often don't cut out an entire quilt but just have to sew up a block or two!) and hopefully on Friday I'll be back with the finished quilt! And yes, I will write up the instructions in case anyone wants to make one, and have them here on the blog.

Upcoming posts
DrEAMi! this Saturday
Dayna's placemats
Makeup pouches
Bear Paw finished quilt


  1. I have always loved Bear Paw blocks. So many ideas, so little time! Sigh

  2. You are such a master at finding the wonderful secondary pattern that emerges when you play with color! I love your beginning here looking forward to seeing what happens when you have all your blocks together!

  3. Purple, blues and a teal, fab colours and a great design. So often the way to lay them out comes after a time of hibernation!!!

  4. I can't wait to learn more about EQ8 so I can fall down the rabbit hole like you did. LOL Happy sewing. I put the binding on my quilt tonight. Now to get some photos. You can do it.

  5. So fun to see a glimpse into your process. Since I love blue and green, I can hardly wait to see the quilt.

  6. I like the second last layout best myself the last one as you say is a little too busy. Those blues are sure pretty.

  7. Thanks for sharing your thought process. I really like how you're making the Bear Paw modern with negative space. Love the layout you chose! And those fabrics are gorgeous.

  8. I really like the layout that you chose (if I understood it correctly.) The bear paws walking around the quilt is a neat idea.
    I can get lost for way to long in EQ8.

  9. So fun seeing your thought processes as you work through different ideas and thank you for the RST tip on the Accuquilt! You are a a great teacher, Sandra. No surprise there. :)

  10. Love the colour combo. I see flying geese as well as bear paw blocks. Going to be a great design.

  11. Well done, this is fantastic. Thanks for sharing your different EQ8 arrangements with us!

  12. I love the way the quilt is coming together. You are right on about using the brain. Quilting is what keeps me "young"! It is true that Island Batik has beautiful fabric. Bear Paw has always been one of my favorite patterns....that and any star!!

  13. Hi Sandra! I forgot that you got the Bear Paw die for your block, and that you were making it for September. I have been thinking about a BP design for a few weeks now and suspect that you are the reason. I am really looking forward to seeing this finished. It is great seeing all the different variations from EQ8 - I am getting on board with using that software. Those fabrics are just the perfect choice for this project! ~smile~ Roseanne

  14. Well, you know I love Bear Paw blocks, and this design is so fun. I especially like the dancing paws. That adds so much childlike fun to the quilt. Nice design, Sandra!

  15. Well that is such fun seeing your playing in EQ8. I love what I see happening and wish you luck crossing the finish line. We had a travel day which seems to mean mostly computer work for me. Projects for Friday's TGIFF (oh Yuk...just realized I am supposed to have it up by 6 pm. Well, we are all rushing aren't we?

  16. I love the modern interpretations of this block! My favorite layout is the one that looks like the footprints left after a bear line dancing shindig :)

  17. Absolutely one of my favorite quilt blocks. Yours will be beautiful!