<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Bear Paw cloverleaf block info
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Bear Paw Cloverleaf

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Bear's Foot

Bear's Foot
Bear's Track/ Bear's Paw/ Big Bear Paw/ The Big Bear's Paw/ Pieced Bear Paw/Cat's Paw/Duck's Foot/Duck's Foot in the Mud/ Illinois Turkey Track/ Tea Leaf Design/Batsche/ The Best Friend/ Small Hand/ Hand of Friendship

The more names a design has, the older it usually is. The regionalism that made this block Turkey Track in Illinois made it Duck's Foot in the Mud in Long Island and Big Bear Paw elsewhere. The block was first published with the name Bear's Foot by the Ladies Art Company in 1897 (#357).

The example we show is on a 7x7 grid, like the LAC's. Other blocks with this name differ in the location and number of seams and patches, in the number of colors, and so forth. Quilters today recognize them all as Bear Paws regardless. We've shown a few variations on this page.


Bear's Paw

Bear's Paw

In this 3-color variation of Bear's Foot, the center square is the same color as the background. It's still a great design, but the contrasting center gets thumbs up over this Bear's Paw every time. It was published in the Chicago Tribune in 1933.

For the Ladies Art Company block named Bear's Paw (#162), see the section on Irish Puzzles:
For the Ladies Art Company block named Hen & Chickens (#385), see the cross section:


Bear's Paw

Bear's Paw
American Rose Bud/The Best Friend/Dove in the Window/Duck's Foot in the Mud/Rosebud/Tea Rose

From a Grandmother Clark booklet published in 1932 comes this variation on a bear paw cloverleaf: each paw is a 2x2 checkerboard.

We're not sure of the colors used in the original block, but every last one of these was published by the end of 1935. Our information for this block is from Jinny Beyer's Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns.


Premium Star

Premium Star
Path of Thorns

Nancy Cabot designed this block for the Chicago Tribune, which published it in 1935, almost 40 years after a similar and eponymous block was published in the Ladies Art Company catalog of 1897, shown below. The LAC's version is the most popular today.

Only three months after Cabot's block appeared, it resurfaced in Nancy Page's column in the Birmingham News as Path of Thorns. The name Path of Thorns (as opposed to Thorny Path) was probably meant to evoke a Christian image—the crown of thorns, the path of the cross.

Our information on the block name comes from Jinny Beyer's Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns.


Premium Star

Premium Star

The LAC's block #26, published in 1897, is a more-complex forerunner of Nancy Cabot's Premium Star. Unlike Cabot's 8x8-grid block, which has just four sawtooth points per quarter block, the LAC's Premium Star is based on a 12x12 grid and has six points per quarter block.


The World's Fair

The World's Fair

The Ladies Art Company published The World's Fair in 1897. Catalog number #134 combines two each of nearly identical blocks — the difference is only in whether the rectangles butt up against either the edge of the block or the edge of the other rectangle in the same block.

The quarter-circles, meanwhile, make things interesting. We traced the original block to add them to our graphic.

More interesting still is The World's Fair's eight points per quarter block. Not many sawtooth blocks are that complex. One exception is a 1970 block called Kansas Troubles, which we've included in the section on Irish Puzzle blocks:

Click on the graphic to see a whole-quilt mockup.

How the Bear Paw
got its name

In Western Pennsylvania and Ohio, the bear paw metaphor goes back to about 1800, according to Ruth Finley (Old Patchwork Quilts, 1929).

She explains with a story from the diary of a young man who went to the woods south of Cleveland in 1836, and started clearing land for a farm.

He soon fell in love with a neighbor named Mary Ann. Being the prettiest girl around, Mary Ann enjoyed flirting more than the idea of settling down. Finally he gave her a one-week deadline to accept or reject his marriage proposal.

On the way to her house seven days later, he was treed by a mother bear, who, fortunately for him and Mary Ann, was too heavy from nursing to climb after him.

The bear waited all night for her dinner to fall out of the tree and finally wandered away.

When the young man arrived at Mary Ann's, she was badly shaken from fear that she had lost him. She answered with an unequivocal Yes, and they lived happily ever after.