Quilting the New Classics–Modern Bear Paw

Have you heard?


Quilting the New Classics by Michele Muska is #1 quilt book at Amazon. BOOM!

Michele and I have known each other for years, back from the days in my former life as an editor. I was really excited and intrigued when she pitched to me her idea of a book based upon favorite classic quilt motifs and pairing modern and traditional quilters together to interpret those motifs. More than a pattern book, it would incorporate a historical reference for each quilt type. Would I be interesting in participating? Absolutely. Would I work with Darlene Zimmerman on the Bear Paw block? Are you kidding me (duh—#fangirl).



Baby bear paws finish at 3″. Adorable.

I knew from the beginning I wanted to “deconstruct” the bear paw block. I presented Michele with a handful of design options and a list of notes on fabrics including:

Navy, (off) white, mustard, yellow, red, black. Finlandia/Asian (“Japanavian” aesthetic) [CHECK, minus the red, and the Finlandia]


I would likely incorporate items which are becoming my signature elements: big stitch quilting, textured fabric (linen), off-white/black prints. [CHECK, CHECK]

IMG_1590We settled on my “momma bear, baby bear” design. For the fabric palette (am I the only one that calls it this? I feel like it is a palette—I paint with fabric) I thought of current trends (not necessarily in fabric), my own design aesthetic, and what inspires me. Lately I can’t squeeze enough neutral, navy, grey, stripes and denim into my wardrobe and home. I strive to live minimally. My home colors of choice are white, white, white, and white, with wood, grey, navy, black and small pops of color—I AM a quilter after all.

My goal was to create a gender neutral, hip and modern quilt; one that any young urban mother would want for her babe. I selected my fabrics (thank you Robert Kaufman Fabrics) and dug in. As is often the case when I am working on a quilt the name came to me—“Blueberries for Sal,” based upon a favorite childhood book by Robert McCloskey (although the quilt name in the book was changed—I am assuming for copyright issues).

BBFSEnough about the design and inspiration. Let me be honest with you—the cutting, piecing, and instructions on this quilt are tricky. I used multiple fabrics, many of which you can get here (you’ll need this too if you want to make one like mine–P.S. they don’t know me, they only know my credit card) in an attempt to add subtle texture and pattern. Those who have taken a class with me know that these are two elements I can’t live without, even in a neutral quilt (especially in a neutral quilt). But here is the thing—you don’t have to use as many fabrics, with the crazy measuring and piecing. Make your bear paw blocks and select a background fabric, or two. I give you permission to change this design to make it work for you.

DSC_0056This quilt is easily assembled on the diagonal. Let me also say (as a liberated quilter) this design is forgiving. The seams don’t have to match up—who cares, and no one will be measuring and comparing against the pattern. Now as for making it work for you—let’s just say my husband says it is his favorite thing I’ve ever made (as if) and that we need one in “grown up” size. Don’t we all. (hint, hint, it’s not just for babies)


Binding details.


Hand stitched details. Linear negative space quilting.

Now, if I have kept your attention until this point (sorry, you know I am all about the process) lucky you! Here is your chance to win a copy of this beautiful book Quilting the New Classics. And since unfortunately I can’t give one to everyone, there is Amazon for the rest of us. Please go order it. You won’t be sorry. Promise. (I’ll pick a random winner the first week in November so we all have time to get through Halloween.) You know the drill. Leave a comment—random winner, yada, yada. (UPDATE: We have a winner–selected by the husband random number generator “pick a number between 1 and 76; 73.” Cathy.)

Be sure to check out what the other designers are saying about their quilts and this lovely book, plus there other chances to win.

Blog Hop Schedule


20–Michele Muska http://www.lolarae.com/blog.html

21–Leslie Tucker Jenison http://leslietuckerjenison.blogspot.com

22– Marie Bostwick http://www.mariebostwick.com/

22–Jannken Smucker http://www.janneken.org/category/blog/

23–Valerie Bothell http://pinkbunnykansas.blogspot.com

24–Kaari (French General) www.frenchgeneral.blogspot.com

25–Elisa Sims Albury www.stitchoutsidetheditch.com (*YOU ARE HERE)

26–Heather Jones www.oliveandollie.com

26–Marci Warren-Elmer Instagram giveaway

27–Victoria Findlay Wolfe​ http://www.bumblebeansinc.blogspot.com

27–Megan Frock Megan Frock www.downtownhousewife.com/

28–Amy Smart http://www.diaryofaquilter.com

29–Jackie Kunkel http://cvquiltworks.com/blogs/blog

30–Pat Sloan http://blog.patsloan.com/

31– Shelly Pagliai http://prairiemoonquilts.com/?page_id=62


1–Allie Aller www.alliesinstitches.blogspot.com

2–Kristin Omdahl   www.styledbykristin.com

3– Jaquie Gering http://tallgrassprairiestudio.blogspot.com/

3–Pat Sloan, “The Voice of Quilting” for American Patchwork and Quilting radio show , 4:00 pm eastern

Quilt Details: “Blueberries for Sal”–Dimensions: 42.5″ W x 56.5″ L. Materials: Robert Kaufman railroad denim and chambray (cotton), Essex yarn dyed linen, linen. Cotton batting. Cotton thread. Wool thread. Finished–October 2013.

78 thoughts on “Quilting the New Classics–Modern Bear Paw

  1. Of course I want to win a copy of this book. Exciting that it’s #1 on amazon now! I truly want to make my own version of this quilt.

  2. I love everything about your quilt–design, fabrics, stitching–it’s all awesome! The book looks pretty interesting too!

  3. I really like the Mama Bear – Baby Bear look of this quilt, and I agree that it is not just for babies and is also gender neutral. Plus and plus!

  4. Oh!!! I just LOVE this! What a soft, warm, and inviting quilt and so lovely with the mama and baby bear paws! I’m from Michigan and visited Sleeping Bear Dunes as a child where the legend is that a Momma Bear and her 2 cubs fled a forest fire in WI and tried to swim across Lake Michigan. The baby bears didn’t make it and the Momma Bear is the large dune that waits at the shore for her babies. The great spirit took pity on the Momma Bear and raised her two cubs as islands off-shore where she is able to watch over them. It’s such a sad story. I dreamt about those baby bears for years. So appropriate that you made a baby quilt with this – such maternal love there! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Oh my – you have my heart on this one! I love your quilt and Blueberries for Sal is one of my favorite books that I read countless times to my kids (many many years ago)!

  6. This is a wonderful new look for a quilt using the Bear Paw block. So good to see a gender neutral quilt. Thanks for the inspiration and the chance to win the book.

  7. Your quilt is awesome. I’ve never used Essex Yarn Dyed fabric, but I want to! It looks great. And your modern bear paw quilt is just what you aimed for — Modern, Gender Neutral, and very cool!

  8. I enjoyed going through your thought process with you, and appreciated that you are “liberated” from seam matching and exact fabric matching – at least for this quilt! Very refreshing – thank you!

    • This quilt is actually precise because I had to write the pattern for publication. The quilts I make for my own use are made without patterns and are very liberated.

  9. Oh. My. Gosh! This design and the title and description made me even get a little teary because I love my babies so! I must make this and I love your style- glad you are part of the blog hop so I could find your page.

  10. I love love love your bearpaw. Such a great idea, I think I will have to make one like it so I really am going to need this book.

  11. I love the concept of this book. I love to see the modern interpretations of the traditional quilt designs. Thanks for the giveaway!

  12. I absolutely love your Mama Bear Baby Bear quilt – what a lovely concept. Love the colours and fabrics you chose too – and I have to say that I too refer to my colour palette so you are not alone there after all.
    Thanks for the chance to win a copy of this wonderful book which I will buy if I am not lucky enough to win.

    contact preferred: perry94022 at hotmail dot com

  13. Know wonder he loves it! It is amazing, color, texture and design! This is my favourite of your quilts too!
    Thank you for sharing.
    Miss you a bunch!

  14. Alrighty… I’ve always wanted to make the Bear Paw block and now I can step outside the traditional and give it a modern twist thanks to your great idea!! Love your quilt!!!

  15. Love the book. Congrats on being in it. I love the Bear Paw. The colors are wonderful too. It is hard for me to like modern quilts, I am more of a traditional kind of girl, but I love your modern Bear Paw.

  16. Fabulous quilt! After seeing such a wonderful interpretation of Bear Paw, I wondered how come no one thought of THAT before! Genius! Bear prints! We co exist with a brown bear and see his prints every where. This quilt is in my future. Thank you!

  17. I would love to win this book if I’m not too late! I just stumbled upon this. I love the idea of taking conventional designs and making them modern. Love you bear paw quilt!

  18. The first quilt block I made was the Bear Paw……I wanted it to look like Fall leaves on the forest floor. I had to unsew and redo them all for size before I could use them in the quilt. They are among my favorite blocks that I have made. Your version blew me away……..what a great quilt! I plan to try to make this one as will many others. Blueberries for Sal is still a favorite book in my 70th decade.

  19. Such a great idea for a book. It makes me a bit crazed when “modern” designers take a traditional block, use new fabrics in it and try to copyright the goodness out of it, or claim it as a “new” pattern. There is such a rich history of pattern, design, fabric and dye colors that we can all pull from for ideas. One of the best things about this book so far is being introduced to many new to me blogs like yours. Love this quilt and the palette and visual texture. What is that beautiful indigo fabric on the baby claws?

    • The “patterning” of traditional/historical blocks irks me to no avail as well. How does one pattern a churn dash? Ridiculous.

      Thanks for the compliments. Yay to new quilt friends!

      I think the luscious indigo you are referring to are the brilliant Quilter’s Linen Dots in indigo by Robert Kaufman.

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