From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library
Skill Level: Beginner
Type: Nine Patch
Momma Bear said, "The Bear Tracks quilt block is JUST RIGHT if you're a beginning quilter!"
She's one smart cookie!
With just half square triangles and cut squares, it's a nice little block to practice your new skills. No special tools to buy either and no paper piecing. Sweet!
You may have heard this block called by another name like: Duck's Foot in the Mud, Maple Leaf Quilt, Tea Leaf, or Tea Leaves. Quilting's like that!
Want help setting the blocks when you're finished? Check out the three quilt layouts at the end of this page.
Are you ready?
Let's get started.
Seam allowances (SA) are pressed toward the darker fabric unless otherwise stated.
When pressing, first press the sewn unit in the closed position to set the seam. This melds the thread into the fabric. Open the patches and press from the front.
This block is made with two fabrics with enough contrast so that the points show.
Choose a finished block size and cut your patches.
Cutting Chart for a~ Traditional Piecing ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size|
|3**||D||2||1-7/8” x 1-7/8”||2-3/8”x2-3/8”||2-7/8”x2-7/8||4-7/8”x4-7/8”|
|4**||L||2||1-7/8” x 1-7/8”||2-3/8”x2-3/8”||2-7/8”x2-7/8||4-7/8”x4-7/8”|
|Unfinished Block Size||3-1/2”||4-1/2”||6-1/2”||12-1/2”|
|Trim HSTs to...||1-1/2”x1-1/2”||2”x2”||2-1/2”x2-1/2”||4-1/2”x4-1/2”|
**Try adding an additional 1/4" to the length and width of this patch when cutting and then trim the unit to size after stitching...makes for perfect HSTs...every time!
With right sides together (RST), sew a light #1 to a dark #2.
With RST, sew a dark #2 to a dark #2. (Yeah, that sounds kind of silly...but that's how this block is made!)
Press. These two 2-piece units are complete.
To make the half square triangles (HST), draw one diagonal line on the back of the two, lighter #4 patches. I've used a red pen here (black arrow below) so it's easier to see. In a for-real quilt, I'd use a mechanical pen because the line stays nice and fine the length of the line.
Stitch a quarter inch away from both sides of the line.
Cut the two sewn units apart on the diagonal line to create four HSTs. If you added a bit to the patch-size as suggested in the cutting instructions, cut these HST to size now.
That number is located at the intersection of the row labeled 'Trim HST to...' (highlighted in yellow) and the column for your finished block size. In this example the block is 6" finished, so the HSTs are trimmed to 2-1/2" square.
NOTE: If you plan on making lots of Bear Tracks, my choice would be to use the more efficient, 8-at-a-time method of making HSTs. Click here to learn how.
Lay out the cut squares, pairs of squares and HSTs for your Bear Tracks into rows and columns. Double check that the HST units are placed in the right direction. It's too easy to get them mixed up.
Press the SA of the two dark #2s towards the left, opposite of the light/dark pair. The seams then nest to make it easy to match them.
Stitch the units in each row together. I find that when I pin my SAs are more accurate, especially at the ends.
Press with the SAs in the direction of the arrows.
Stitch the rows together, again, using pins if you find them helpful. (I most certainly do!)
After a final press, (check out our Best Pressing Technique) your Bear Tracks quilt block is finished!
To keep things simple, we'll use the same background or 'L' fabric for all the blocks.
First let's set the blocks edge-to-edge in groups of four, rotating each one a quarter turn to form 'wreaths'. To maintain symmetry, use even numbers of blocks in the rows and columns.
Same layout with the addition of sashing and cornerstones. This looks much like the traditional Bear's Paw quilt block.
And finally, instead of sashing, a strip is added to two adjacent sides of the block, log cabin style so the the design appears to float. Each row contains two positions of the block.
To find them, just click here to go to our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library. You're sure to find one that's "JUST RIGHT"!
These are my go-to resources for quilt block ideas.
Can you tell?
It's in color.
It's got a ton of blocks.
What's not to love?
Next on my 'must-have' list is Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.
Unlike the Maggie Malone book, the blocks in this volume are hand-drawn and in black and white—no color—personally, I prefer colored drawings to work with.
This book is no longer in print.
If you can come by a copy expect it to be wickedly expensive. Once in awhile you can find it here on Amazon.com.
UPDATE: Electric Quilt, in cooperation with Barbara Brackman has announced they plan to republish the Encyclopedia sometime in 2020.
However, all is not lost if you can't find a hard copy.
BlockBase is the computerized version of the Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.
It contains designs for over 4300 blocks—pretty much every block published from the 1830's through the 1970's.
It can be used with Electric Quilt and is a Windows based program.
In fact, there are instructions included so that you can pull up the digital patterns within Electric Quilt (PC version for now) without having to open up BB program.
UPDATE: Electric Quilt has announced that they will be rereleasing the standalone BlockBase software for BOTH PC and MAC in 2020.
This is terrific news.
Finally there's The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns by Jinny Beyer.
Lots of detail and in color, it is a beautiful volume. That said, I check it out of my local library on a regular basis instead of purchasing it—can you see the library sticker on it's spine. Yep, it's from the Plainfield Public Library.
Simply because I own the previous three references and find this the least user-friendly of the group.
And it does make a fabulous coffee table book!