Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Old Pattern, old mistakes

The Bear Claw pattern is not the simplest of traditional quilt patterns, but it is certainly not very complicated. In the very early 1970s when I had been sewing dresses for my daughters and curtains for a new house, I decided to make my first quilt. It was a bear claw design which I found in a magazine. I used blue and white print left over from kitchen curtains and white muslin. I make templates from the cardboard of cereal boxes and figured out on my own how to sew it all together. I made quite a few mistakes until I understood the half-square triangles and got the points headed in the proper directions. That was my first and, as the cliche goes, the rest is history.

In all these years I've made, literally, hundreds of quilts, big and small but not another bear claw design. Today I began a bear claw quilt because I have a request for a Christmas quilt for my great-grandson and I happen to have a sweet little stuffed teddy bear to give him. I fiddled around for some hours trying to make a paper piecing pattern but I had trouble with the math. I love paper piecing and would love to have nice sharp pointy "claws". But I got tired of wasting my time and finally decided to sew it the old fashioned way. Which I did -- and I made the very same, old fashioned mistakes I know I made on that first quilt -- not that I specifically remember but I know my own style and method, which is not very methodological. I wound up in the first block [four bear claws as in the picture] with three of the paws, with claws pointing the wrong direction. I reached for the trusty [but not beloved] seam ripper muttering about old dogs never really learning much at all. Impetuosity is not a good trait when sewing small pieces together. Patience and careful consideration of what is needed is much more necessary. So the second patch is much better -- albeit with blunted claws because of my hasty math and sewing.

I hope to get the next patches done and done more precisely in the next few days. The quilt will also feature some paper pieced bears that more or less match the toy that will accompany the quilt. They will grace the border. Photo in a week or so. Meanwhile I'm feasting on humble pie.

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