Finish: Ursa Minor 22


This quilt was technically finished in August, but I’m just now getting a chance to post it to the blog. During the summer, Shannon Page did a webinar on taking traditional blocks and modifying them to have a more modern aesthetic. This was particularly well-timed as the Ontario Museum of History and Art (in Ontario, California) had put out a call for entries of quilts with a modern twist on traditional designs. I knew I wanted to enter something, but I wasn’t sure what to make.


Setting aside the whole “what is modern anyway” thing for the time being, I made a list of blocks I thought would be fun to play with and narrowed it down to two: Bear’s Paw and Irish Chain. Using the techniques that Shannon discussed in her webinar, I played for quite a while and came up with a number of variations.


Eventually I realized that I needed to actually decide between them all and make one of them. Given the lack of time and my other deadlines, I decided to go for one of the smaller Bear’s Paw designs. I’d still like to revisit some of the other variations when I have a chance.


Design wise, I really love playing with foreground and background (something I discovered while doing the whole Quilt Design A Day thing) and I’m pleased with how this particular design brings the attention to the secondary shapes between the blocks. After a bunch of waffling, the final coloration was decided based on the fabrics I had on hand. Woohoo, pragmatism wins again!

bearpaw-mini-light bearpaw-mini-dark
I chose to do a grid-based quilting because the secondary shapes reminded me of a compass star. The grid felt like a way to continue the map theme and I echo quilted around the secondary shapes to help bring even more attention to them.

Referencing the compass star, I chose to name the quilt Ursa Minor because that is the latin name of the little dipper constellation (literally: Little Bear) and the north star is in the Ursa Minor constellation. And of course Ursa for the Bear’s Paw block, and Minor because it’s a fairly small quilt, and man do I like my silly naming puns.


As an exciting footnote, the quilt did get into the exhibit, so it will be showing in the Modern Quilts: Redesigning Traditions exhibit at the Ontario Museum of Art and History between December 1, 2016 and January 22, 2017!




Name: Ursa Minor
Dimensions: 36″ x 36″
Fabrics: Kona: Snow, Ash, Pomegranate, Charcoal. Dear Stella: Stirling.
Binding: Prints from stash which I don’t know the name of.
Modern: Does this qualify as modern? I don’t know and it’s not something I’m particularly fussed about. I just make the stuff I want to make and I’ll let some art historian figure out how to label it a few decades from now if it ends up being worthy of a label.


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22 thoughts on “Finish: Ursa Minor

  • Janelle

    Love those designs! Congrats on being accepted into the exhibit–I thought it was in Ontario Canada at first & was super excited it would be near me (alas, it is not).

    • anne Post author

      Thank you! And to be honest, I thought it was Ontario, Canada for quite some time until someone else pointed out it was “the other CA”. Haha! They must get that a lot.

    • anne Post author

      Thank you, Yvonne! I normally have a really hard time naming things, but this one (when it finally came) immediately felt right. 🙂 It’s a lot of different concepts but it unites them nicely!

  • Whiskers

    I see a native American motif here. Look at some of Pendleton’s designs. Clean, crisp, eye catching, (I love bears), and I like it! Lots! Congrats on being juried into the show.

    • anne Post author

      Thank you! A friend of mine was just telling me about Pendleton blankets, I’d never heard of them before and now here they are again. 😀 Thank you so much for the congrats, I was so pleased when it was accepted! I’ve seen some pictures of some others that were accepted and it looks like it’s going to be a great show.

  • Mary Smary

    Love this design – and congratulations on it being selected for the Ontario show. I very much enjoy reading about how you plan the things you make. Thanks!

    • anne Post author

      Thank you! I was so happy it was accepted. 😀 I can sometimes be an over planner (this is partly laziness, I’d rather sit at my computer and veg over a design than have to cut into the precious fabrics and start making it. I’m not sure what this says about me, I’m kinda scared to unpack it.) but at least it gives me something to talk about in these blog posts. 😉

    • anne Post author

      Thank you so much Heather, what a lovely compliment! There are some beautiful bear paw quilts out there, but I love the challenge of taking a design I wouldn’t normally be drawn to and reworking it to be something I’m excited to make. 🙂

  • jayne

    What a perfect little quilt. I don’t usually play with traditional blocks, but you showed you can take them and make something totally modern and different! Congrats and thanks for the reminder and inspiration!

    • anne Post author

      Oh man, thanks Jayne! It was such a fun challenge, I’d love to see what you come up with if you try it! Watching the webinar really gave me the impetus I needed, especially since she showed a series of steps to start modifying the designs. It was fun watching the progression. 🙂

    • anne Post author

      Thank you so much! I’d love to have time to make a few more of them but my brain has already moved on to other things. I wish quilts were a lot faster to make. 🙂

  • 2bleubirdzsssing4u

    Wow. I’m in awe of your creative ability. I’ve never really liked the bear paw block, but you have made it so interesting to me now with this unique snowflake – star- constellation look. Very intriguing and I have to consider making something like it, but with a twist on the colors, of course.

      • anne Post author

        Hah! Yes! I almost called it something to do with Lion but decided against it for reasons I no longer remember. That’s so cool that you saw it, too! 😀

    • anne Post author

      Thank you so much!! I’d LOVE to see what you come up with if you do your own version! 😀 I’ve already come up with a few new versions but don’t really have the inclination to make any of them. haha I love to design quilts but don’t want to MAKE quilts that are designed, I’d rather improv. That leaves me in a weird spot. ^_^

    • anne Post author

      How flattering, I’d be happy to let you show them! Please feel free to use whatever you want. 🙂 Where is your talk? That’s pretty exciting!

  • Jaye

    Congrats on getting your quilt into the show! I love the quilting, especially the way it looks thoughtful. I say that because you went around the big dark spaces on point rather than going through them. It was not as easy as going through them, I know, but very effective. I love the way you showed some of your design process. Thanks!

    • anne Post author

      Thank you! I love doing that type of quilting, but very early on when I was starting quilting, someone who had a lot more experience in quilting told me “yuck! echo quilting! That’s so boring.” It was one of those things that lodged into my brain and kept me from doing it for a long time. It’s taken a surprising amount of work to get to a point where I’m giving myself permission to do it. I guess that just goes to show, watch what you say around people who are new to the hobby. They may take your word as gospel. 😉