Thursday, May 27, 2010

how 'bout a swap?

As it's just about the only quilted thing that I have made and kept in my own home, I am a little bit obsessed with this pillow.  Except I didn't make it in its entirety, which you already know if you've been around a while...Ashley, from the much-beloved Film in the Fridge, made it for her Modified Bento Box Block tutorial...and it became my first and only giveaway win.

I would love to make a full quilt like this someday...and might...but one day I got to thinking how much fun it would be to swap these blocks.  And so, I give you The Mod Bento Block Swap...

...mod from Ashley's "modified" tutorial, and also for modern fabrics.  The basic deal is that you make as many blocks as you want to, quarter them, mail them, and get back that same number of delightfully-mixed-up quarters for your own awesome project.  Ashley was kind enough to allow me to base the swap on her tutorial--thanks, Ashley!

Through a little graph-paper geekery (which I'll post in the next day or two), I figured that you can get all of the components you need for one block from a quarter-yard (not a fat quarter) of fabric, and so 5 quarter-yards will yield 20 coordinating-but-different quarters.  Do some assembly-line cutting and sewing, and end up with a great variety once the swap is done.  Of course, these can be scrappy, too...more thinking, but maybe more fun.

Some ideas for smaller numbers of blocks (in case you're not up to making a full quilt's worth)...

  • 4 quarters:: a pillow, 4 placemats
  • 12 quarters:: a wall hanging, a table runner
  • 20 quarters:: a lots-of-solids quilt (I'll throw some possible layouts around in the coming days), 
  • 48 quarters:: a lap quilt with dimesions like Ashley's original (40" x 54").
Sound like fun?  Here are the specifics of the swap:
  • Please use modern (there's that "mod" again!), quilt-shop quality fabrics.  There are plenty of lists floating around the web of what constitutes "modern fabrics"--I'm guessing most people who are participating know them when they see them, butif you have a question, just send me an email or post to the flickr group.  
  • There are no color police, but to keep everything coordinating pretty well, let's aim to use primarily neutrals and saturated colors and prints.  Also, please try to use a mixture of colors in each block--no "blue-only" blocks, for example.  Solids are great, and it's fine to use different fabrics within a particular "ring" of the block.
  • Please follow the tutorial!  Nobody is perfect with seam allowances & block sizes (least of all me!), but the strips in each quarter need to line up fairly well with their neighbors in order for the blocks to look good.  To allow a bit of wiggle room, let's go ahead and follow Ashley's suggestion of squaring up to 15.5" (before cutting), which will result in 7.75" quarters.
  • This is a centralized swap, which means you'll mail me your block quarters and a stamped return envelope (the same amount you used to send), and I'll mix everything up and send you back the same number that you made.
  • International swappers are welcome!  I think the best way to deal with postage is through Paypal, which we can handle as needed.
  • A suggested mail date for US participants is June 28.  Allowing a week-plus for the blocks to get to me, I'll mail what I have on July 9.  I'll plan to do another switch-and-mail for stragglers after a week or so if needed, but for best variety, the blocks should arrive here no later than July 5
  • Feel free to keep one of your quarters (i.e., make a block, send me 3 quarters and keep one for your project).
  • I'll do my best to give you a variety of quarters, but depending on what I receive, you may end up with a couple from the same set of fabrics.
If you're still with me (I know, I'm kinda wordy) and want to participate, please send me an email at with your name, mailing address, and a guesstimate of how many quarters you'll send (not that I'll hold you to it--I'm just nosy).

From here on out, we'll handle questions, discussion, etc. at the Mod Bento Block Swap flickr group.  Join us!

**edited to thank Christina for catching an error in the button code...if you've had trouble with it, try again as it should be fixed.  Thanks, Christina!**


  1. speaking of swaps, i got some of your vintage sheets cut into 15x30" pieces in a swap earlier this year, and meant to come check out the blog sooner that went with the cute little i am taking some time today to finally browse around - right off the bat I love your clean, white layout!

  2. I'm gonna sign up! Don't know how many I'll make yet but I'm definitely signing up for this!

  3. Sounds like a whole lot of fun, but I don't like the idea of only certain fabrics being acceptable. In my opinion, and I don't want to step on anyone's feet, so many of the 'modern' quilts are looking JUST ALIKE because no one uses anything but THE VERY LATEST lines of fabrics that are for sale.
    I know that quality has to be maintained, but there are lots of beautiful fabrics that didn't come out in the last 2 years !
    I hope to be able to participate in a later swap that isn't so restricted.
    Can't wait to see your pictures, though. Have a blast !

  4. Hi Dolly,

    Just to "modern", I don't necessarily mean brand new--just of a particular aesthetic, sort of the opposite of "traditional". Not that there's anything wrong with those fabrics...just that I tend to prefer those that are more modern, and so set up the swap so that that I could use my own stash!

    Since swappers don't know each other, the best way to end up with a final product that everyone is happy with is to create some context for fabric choices. In our own work, we may choose from all different kinds of fabric, but I want to make sure nobody is disappointed and so limited the scope to the center of the Venn diagram, so to speak.

    This certainly does narrow the field in terms of how unique the blocks can be, but since there are hundreds (thousands?) of modern fabrics, I'm hoping we'll still all end up with great variety in the end.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Hi, I just wanted to say how much I have enjoyed your web.. I spent way to much time reading when I should be doing other things ( like my own quilting) but I do not consider it even a moment wasted.. it's wonderful! I am doing some serious thinking about the swap.. since I am trying to make a plan for my summer... but I do hear your swap calling my name so you might see my name " in the hat" quite soon :)


  6. Hi there, I'd have loved to join in but its just bad timing for me as I'm getting married in July and so things are a bit hectic here!! Justine x

  7. What a neat swap idea! Somehow I missed this. :) Will there be a round two?


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