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Finish: Modified Bento Box

Back yonder in my earlier years (read: almost 2 years ago), I was but a lowly grad student, trying to slog my way through my dissertation. My bestie and I spent hours procrastinating by visiting nearby (and not-so-nearby) quilt shops and collecting fabrics for “the quilt we will make when our dissertations are finally done.”


I collected fabrics in blues, greys, and greens, because I wanted to make a Quilt To Keep, and I knew that’d go with the colors in our bedroom.


At some point I laid them all out and realized I’d collected over 96 different fabrics for this “dissertation quilt” and the quilt didn’t even have a pattern picked out. Oops!


So I sent Eli to my flickr favorites, and told him to pick a few that he liked, so I could figure out what to make. I thought he was going to cry when he’d spent probably 30 minutes picking some favorites and I told him that was only page 1 of my favorites… So I let him stop there. He had two strong favorites, the modified bento box and a drunkard’s pathΒ design.

Me: Wow, I’m really impressed by your choices, these are very modern designs!
Eli: Yah, I thought those had enough going on that when the cats threw up on it, the stain wouldn’t really show.
Me: …

Pragmatic, that one.


I wasn’t comfortable with curves at the time, so I decided on the modified bento box by Film In The Fridge, and began cutting. And cutting. And cutting.

And then I put all the pieces into baggies and they sat for a good year or so.


Eli and I began making jokes about how the cobbler’s children have no shoes, and how we were never going to have a quilt of our own. And at some point I started feeling a bit guilty about it, and I started working on it again. But I’d fallen way out of love with the fabrics, so it was quite the slog.


But I dutifully started bringing the blocks to sew days and quilt conferences, and working on it in small bursts. At Sewing Summit in September, I put on 3 sides of the last border, and managed to finish the squares at our guild’s next sew day. At this point I realized I might be able to finish it by Christmas.


Once the squares were done, I rather liked the design and was tempted to stop there instead of cutting them apart. However, I had seen a blog post where someone else had done that and I was a bit disappointed because I really wanted to see what it looked like cut apart, and also I knew I couldn’t stop here because the squares weren’t nearly chaotic enough to hide possible cat spit-up stains. And y’know, this was really for Eli. So cut it up I did!


During our guild retreat, I managed to get the quilt top done, and I was so happy I’d gone ahead and cut up the blocks! Overall I was quite pleased with the quilt, although very, very, very sick of it at this point.

During Sewing Summit, I had a very eye-opening discussion with Kelsey @ Everyday Fray. I told her I was dreading quilting this thing because a) it was huge and b) I was SO sick of it. She suggested I send it out to be quilted. That way it’d go away for a month, come back almost done and I’d have fresh eyes to appreciate it more.


Um wow. Why hadn’t I thought of that?! So that’s exactly what I did, and I continue to be very pleased with that decision! I sent it to Bonnie @ Fabric Hart along with my dad’s Urban Lattice quilt. She quilted it with an all-over wave design, except for one strip which she did in right-angled lines and bordered leaves. It’s lovely!

And Kelsey was right. I liked the quilt so much better now that it was back!


At this point, Eli had no idea I’d been working on the quilt because I’d always worked on it at events outside the house. As far as he knew, the quilt was still existing as strips of fabric in baggies. At one point when we were visiting my parents for Thanksgiving, my mom asked about the quilt with Eli in earshot. (Hi Mom! It’s okay, I love you!) I freaked out that he had overheard and now he knew I was making him a quilt.

Soon after that, he mentioned that maybe in the future, I should only work on 1 quilt during Christmas time. And he stopped responding to my jokes about how we didn’t have a quilt. Crap, he knew.


Well, I wasn’t about to give him the satisfaction of seeing the quilt box under the tree, so instead I put it in a flat rate mailing box, made a shipping label from Santa (including a graphic of a North Pole postmark) and put it on our front porch the night before we opened gifts. And then freaked out all night that someone was going to steal it off our porch.


The next morning, we opened gifts and we got to the end and I thought “Take that! No quilt! Now you won’t be expecting it!”

He went out to check mail and found the box, and somehow I managed to keep a straight face while he opened it. When he saw the quilt, he looked at me confused, and I explained what it was and why I’d chosen that method of delivery. We were both cracking up by the end, and he was super happy about the quilt!


The best part? He had no clue. I’d done all that extra work and freaking out for nothing. The reason he wasn’t joking anymore about having no quilts is he was starting to actually get sad about how we didn’t have one! Thank goodness I managed to nip that in the bud!

Eli: Why are you taking MY picture? You’re not going to post that, right?
Me: Right.
Eli: I don’t believe you.
Me: Smart man.

So there you have it. I am so thrilled every time I see the quilt on our bed! And good news, no cat spit-up yet.


Dimensions: 76 x 88″ (I wish I’d made it a bit bigger so it was a true queen, but I cut the pieces before I knew better)
Pattern: Modified Bento Box by Film In The Fridge
Fabrics: Everything and the kitchen sink
Back: Joel Dewberry – Picnic Plaid in Pond + Kona Aqua strip
Quilting: Bonnie Degase @ Fabric Hart
Binding: Interweave Chambray in Cobalt
Time to make quilt: 2 years and 1 dissertation


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