BLOCK Friday: Bear’s Paw Quilt Block, Pt. 2

The Bear’s Paw quilt block is a multi-faceted block, both in its history and in its application. Is there bias surrounding the name of this quilt block? You bet.

Metal Barn Quilt Bear's Paw Block
This quilt block is known by various names. We call it the Bear’s Paw quilt block, but according to what I’ve read, how you refer to this block might be dictated by the region in which you live. For example, if you’re from Long Island, you might call it Duck’s Foot in the Mud, since ducks outnumber bears in that area. If you’re a Quaker living in Philadelphia, you might know it as the Hand of Friendship quilt block.


Speaking of variability, the Prairie Blossoms quilt below uses a Bear’s Paw variation with fewer points and shorter sashing to create little flowers across the white quilt. This is a great example of how adaptable the Bear’s Paw design can be.

Prairie Blossoms

Blooming Feathered Star Quilt
You can see the origins of the Bear’s Paw quilt block in Saw Tooth designs found primarily in the borders of early American quilts. The Saw Tooth is the basis for many quilt patterns, not just Bear’s Paw quilts. You can see the Saw Tooth used inDelectable Mountain and Feathered Star quilts, like this quilt called Blooming Feathered Star.

There’s a lot to this quilt block! If you’d like to see more quilts featuring the Bear’s Paw quilt block and read more about its history during times of slavery, take a look at BLOCK Friday: Bear’s Paw Quilt Block, Pt. 1.

Have you ever made a quilt using the Bear’s Paw quilt block or a variation? Tell me about it in the comments below.

Carrie Sisk, Online Editor, Fons & Porter


Happy Quilting!
Carrie Sisk, Fons & Porter Online Editor

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Carrie Sisk

About Carrie Sisk

Carrie's first sewing machine was a gift from her dad—a better gift was never given. A crafter, trained pianist and experienced paintballer, when the opportunity arises, she's hiking in Yosemite or Rocky Mountain National Park.

4 thoughts on “BLOCK Friday: Bear’s Paw Quilt Block, Pt. 2

  1. Bear’s Paw is one of my favorite blocks. The first quilt I designed myself was four bear’s paw blocks assembled into a larger block. The quilt is queen-sized, with 6 of the larger blocks set by 7 blocks, all done in scrappy blacks and creamy whites, with a sawtooth border–turned out stunning. All because Bear’s Paw is easy to do, even for a beginner, yet yields awesome results!

  2. Our older son was married at Bear Paw Lodge–so I made 20 bear paw blocks for the tables at the reception. After the wedding, I put sashing between the blocks, added two borders, and made a queen size quilt. Our next son is being married at “The Barn at Ridgeland” in Philadelphia. Any suggestions on an appropriate block for this wedding?