Friday, September 18, 2020

Bear Paw Quilt Block

The bear paw quilt block is a combination of half square triangles, squares and rectangles. It's a classic block that has been around since the civil war era. 

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know to make a 12 inch bear paw block. I've included step-by-step instructions with pictures as well as a video tutorial.

Bear Paw Quilt Block

It's a fairly easy block to make. It's basically four smaller blocks (the bear paws) separated by a bit of sashing. 

If you're new to piece quilting, I've got several easy quilt block tutorials like the churn dash block, the shoo fly block and the birds in the air block to name just a few.

Click on the quilting tab in my header for all of my quilting tutorials.


↓ ↓ ↓ PIN IT ↓ ↓ ↓ 
bear paw quilt block
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Below are some of my favorite quilting tools. I always say make do with what you have, but if I had to pick a few things that are critical to quilting it would be getting a rotary cutter, mat and straight edge. Your pieces will be so much more precise, lending to a better result.


Fabric color choices are unlimited. I made two blocks, each with a different color scheme. The pictures for this tutorial include three "main" colors and a background color. 

The block I made in the video was one "main" color and the background color. I have seen it switched where the paw was white and the surrounding area was colorful. Play around with it. 

Main Color(s)

  • 2) 6" squares
  • 4) 4" squares
  • 1) 2" square


  • 2) 6" squares
  • 4) 2 1/4" squares
  • 4) 5 3/4" X 2" strips
fabric requirements for bear paw quilt block


Let's get to it. Remember this is for a 12 inch block. All seams are 1/4 inch. There is a video tutorial at the end of the article.


To start with we need to make 16 half square triangles. We'll use the 8-at-a-time method (I'll explain here, but head over to that post for more detailed instructions.)
making half square triangles

Grab two of your six inch blocks (one of each color). Line them up right sides together. 

Draw a line from corner to corner with a pencil. Draw two more lines, each 1/4 inch away from the center line. Repeat on the opposite diagonal.

Sew along all of the outer drawn lines, but not the center lines.  

Cut down the center vertically and horizontally. Without moving any pieces, cut along those center lines that go from corner to corner. Repeat with other square.

Press open the half square triangles and then trim to 2 1/4 inches square.


Lay out the pieces for one of the paws. 

assembling the bear paw block

A 4 inch square should go in the bottom left corner. On top of that are two HST's with the darker half pointing to the bottom right. 

To the right of the 4 inch block are another two HST's with the darker half pointing toward the top left. 
In the top right corner should be the two inch square.

You can sew each paw individually (which I'll show below), or you can lay them all out and do a sort of assembly line system, like I do in the video. 

sewing together the half square triangles

Now sew together the top two half square triangles and the two on the right. Press seams to one side.

sewing together the bear paw quilt block

Next, sew the top HST's to the 2 inch block. Then sew the HST's on the right to the 4 inch block as indicated in the above picture.  

Press the seams away from the "claws".

Bear Paw

Lastly, sew the top row to the bottom and you have a bear paw!  Repeat the process to make three more paws.

bear paw quilt block

Now line up all the pieces for the block. Each bear paw should go in a corner with the claws pointing outward. Add a background strip between each paw and the 2 inch square in the center. 

sewing each row together

Sew the block together row by row. Press the seams toward the background strips.

rows of the bear paw quilt block

Once each row is sewn, sew them all together. Press seams toward the middle.

bear paw quilt block tutorial

Want to watch the video?  ↓↓Click the link ↓↓


 Don't forget to pin it!!
bear pawbear paw quilt block


  1. Replies
    1. This tutorial is just to learn how to make a bear paw quilt block. I have not calculated the yardage to make a quilt top.

    2. When the block is made is it 12" or is it 12.5" ?

    3. The completed block measures 12.5", but once it's sewn into a quilt it will be 12"