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Cake Mixes and Baby Quilts

Cake Mixes and Baby Quilts

Written by: 
Linzee McCray

There are times when you plan to stitch a masterpiece. And then there are times when you want to sew. And sometimes, if you're lucky, a single project satisfies both those urges.

In my case, it started one day when I was in a bit of a stitching rut. I decided to try a Moda Cake Mix, and perhaps emblematic of my feeling not-so-adventurous I chose Recipe 1, Block 1.

I'm terrible about cutting into fabric I love—I tell myself there's a perfect project just waiting for this or that bundle and then the fabric sits on the shelf for a very long time. But when I realized how perfectly Darling Little Dickens by Lydia Nelson played with Fig Tree's Strawberry Fields, I threw caution to the wind and went to work.

I cut 10" squares from my Strawberry Fields fat quarters and combined them with a Darling Little Dickens Layer Cake. I wanted to make a gender-neutral quilt and so chose blues and greens from Lydia's line, taupes and yellows from Joanna's, and threw in a creamy Bella solid to take up the slack. The Cake Mix directions were easy-peasy and it felt great to be sewing. I didn't make any big decisions about which fabric to put where, just paired darks and lights and stitched along. I made a really pretty top and took it out to my clothesline to take a picture and loved the way the sun poured through the blocks. And then I set it in a pile in my sewing room and went on to other projects.

One of those projects was a hand-stitched hexagon quilt that I decided to make for my first grandchild. I was thoroughly enjoying sewing together hundreds of hexagons to create a gradation of hues, which I planned to  appliqué to a backing and then quilt. But life didn't go exactly as planned (imagine that!) and it became clear the hexagons weren't going to be done when the baby was. I panicked. And then I remembered the Cake Mix quilt.

It was winter when I pulled it out and its soft hues promised spring. I added fabrics from some newer lines to finish it off—a just-the-right green backing from Corey Yoder's Pepper and Flax and my favorite kind of binding—stripes—from Fig Tree's Ella and Ollie. I quilted it with one big spiral and couldn't help but see tidy rows of Iowa farm fields in the evenly-spaced stitching and soft colors. Uplifting was the only word I can use to describe the experience. As I quilted, my winter woes took a backseat to reveries about sunlight and what it would be like to meet my grandchild (my daughter and her husband chose not to know the baby's sex before the birth).

I didn't quite finish stitching down my striped binding before I flew from Iowa to Texas to meet baby Freya Grace. She was only 36 hours old when I got to hold her for the first time and it was just two days later, while she slept on a pillow on my lap, that I finished stitching on the binding. We washed the quilt so it was soft and crinkly and my daughter kept commenting on the sweet little sheep and duck fabrics and thought the colors were perfect for Freya's room. I'm still diligently hand-sewing that hexagon quilt for Freya, but it may not be any more loved or admired than this Cake Mix quilt. It's a reminder that any quilt can be a masterpiece when it's wrapped around someone you love.

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