Monday 29 February 2016

Design Wall Monday - Big Bear, Little Bear

Have you ever just had an idea for a quilt, dropped everything and spent a whole weekend making it, just to see what it looks like in fabric form?

Well this weekend that's what happened to me.  Two things seemed to coalesce on Friday evening for me.  I am working on a project for one of the IPS groups (Irish Patchwork Society) on traditional blocks made modern and I have been playing with the some traditional blocks like the Bear Paw block.  I'm not a big lover of pointy blocks (New York Beauty has never been on my wish list!) but for some reason I've been drawn to the bear paw to see what I could do with it.
One of the things I like about about Modern Quilting is the increased use of negative space so I removed some elements of the traditional block (centre square and rounded the paws), then I thought why not really go for it and removed two of the paws, played with colour and changed the rotation a bit.  I like this effect of a bear walking so I played with scale and came up with this design which I'm calling Big Bear, Little Bear.
Then I opened a bundle of fabric I received from with two gorgeous blue prints made by Westfalenstoffe and I thought, they'd be really nice to work with in a bear inspired project. And that was it - my weekend was consumed and the housework went out the window!
I had a little rummage and came up with this brown print I had bought from Slaney Handcraft and this grey/cream print left over from my Flower Power Hexagon Quilt.  They looked like they would co-ordinate well so I worked out the dimensions and set about chopping them up!

Unfortunately they co-ordinated too well and my bear paw has gotten a little bit lost in the forest!

So I made some colour changes, modified my design a bit and came up with this high contrast option!  I moved the centre colour so the paws go over the edges  and got out my Kona Colour card.  I picked Kiwi and Mango as the green and orange colours and thought they'd go well with the celestial blue I had on hand (4 yards if it!)

On Saturday afternoon, I took a quick trip to the Limerick Quilt Centre to buy some fabric.  They had Mango but no Kiwi.  The closest I could find was a leaf colour which didn't quite go with the Mango, so I changed to a carrot coloured orange instead.  It really makes a difference to be able to pull bolts of fabrics from the walls when you need to match tones!
So, second round saw a Kona  grey and some Essex linen for the paws and I was off again - working out dimensions for a bigger quilt and cutting away to my hearts content.

I think this on its own would make  sweet baby quilt but I had all that beautiful blue on hand so it got chopped up and added on too to make a bed quilt! 
Absolutely no idea how I am going to quilt this one - lots of space to be filled in!  Any suggestions?

Very happy with the design now but still loving that Westfalenstoffe Woodland scene and being a tiny bit stubborn, I went back to my test block and carried on, regardless of the disappearing bear paws.   I framed my 28" square blocks with some Dashwood studios woodland forest fabric to lift it a little bit.  It now measures 50" square and could be nice a baby quilt, but I think I'm going to add a blue border and bring it up to 60" to use for the sofa when we sit with the dogs by the fire.
Design wall is full so hanging blocks off fences and picture rails!

Has it stopped me playing with the bear paw block?  Not yet.  Came up with these too and am very tempted!

Especially this one which looks like dog bones to me.

None of these are on my to do list of course!  I do seem to be loving that light shade of blue though which I think is Kona Breakers. That's going on my wish list but not my shopping cart until I finish some quilts first!


  1. Hi Ruth! I love all your designs! I'm not fan of the traditional Bear Paw block but I really like these where you have used only part of it. Also the bones are super fun. Is there also bear paw? I can't see that. x Teje

  2. I love your take on the bear paws! It accentuates the paw-ness o the block, and it really does modernize them.

  3. What an inspired, and inspiring weekend you had, Ruth. I found it very interesting to read how your ideas developed; thanks for sharing the process.

  4. I can definitely see the dog bone in your last design. Isn't it so fun to get caught up and lost in creation? It looks like you had a fabulous weekend. I would need some time to ponder quilting all the negative space in your big bear, little bear design. I am initially leaning toward a bit of a wood grain pattern to keep the outdoor theme going.

  5. Love it!! I wasn't a fan of this block, but I love how you modified it. I might need to give your version a try. Congrats on finishing two this weekend.

  6. Looks like you had a fun! I like the night sky fabric but forest one may be bit busy. Thanks for the mention!!

  7. This looks like so much fun. Is it done on Electric quilt company's program?

  8. What fun blocks and quilts tops with the bear claw block. Congrats on your finishes.

  9. I love bear paw blocks and baby paw blocks! One day I will make a proper bedsized...And I love your variations. The night sky and forest version looks great and the kona one is fab too. Surprising how fabrics can make so much difference. The dog bones made me smile :)

  10. I have never been a fan of the traditional bear paw block but I love your adaptations and how it really looks like big and little bears' pawprints. Have to say that I am glad you continued with the woodland fabric because it is gorgeous!

  11. What a darling design. I think I like the disappearing prints best. It's camouflage, right?

  12. Different fabrics can make the same quilt design look so different. Looks like you had fun! I am in love with that blue and brown fabric set you used.



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