Bento blocks are one of my favorite blocks. Very easy to make with little fabric waste, there are so many optical effects you can do with them. I have made several, shown below. I am slowly working on a bedspread made of them and a variety of fabrics, including an oriental one. I’ll post pictures of that, once I get far enough along.
A while back Generation Q magazine posted a playdate with Thomas Knauer to use 40 2 ½ inch by 2 ½ inch squares he was going to send. I was one of the ones chosen and received 40 very random squares in the mail a few weeks later. When I saw them, I thought, “Oh crap, what am I going to do with these?” After sorting them into color families, I decided that maybe I could make them into Bento blocks – I had enough for 2 full 12”blocks with 4 squares left over. I was allowed to add solid colored fabrics as needed. One block used the greens and blues in two of the 4 quarters and brown in the other 2 – see below. The other used reds and blacks. The alternate color was a variety of scrap white on white fabric.
Another thing I have done to good effect is the Split-9 block. You create 9 patch blocks, but then cut them vertically and horizontally to yield four new squares that can then be arranged a variety of ways. I have made 2 quilts using this technique – pictured below.
So I thought, what if I split the Bentos? It looks like you could do a variety of things with them, but I didn’t really want to lose the Bento look. I cut the quarters diagonally from the center outward to yield HST’s, swapped colors and sewed them together. What you get is still more or less a Bento block, but not all the squares are the same size any more, which I think makes it look cooler yet. If I had anticipated the skewed block sizes, I might have been a little more careful matching the corners within the larger blocks, but I think it still looks ok. I framed the whole thing with more white, using the last four squares as cornerstones.
I kept the quilting simple, but since I don’t sew straight lines free motion well and really suck at stitching in the ditch, there are quite a few wobblies. I used a Sulky variegated silvery gray and white for the central section and Isacord white for the border area. By quilting the diagonal blocks formed by the seams, it makes the whole thing visually more interesting than keeping to the Bento itself.
Overall it was a fun exercise and a fairly successful experiment.