Cake Mixes and Baby Quilts

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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45 comments on “Cake Mixes and Baby Quilts

  1. Pris Phillips says:

    What a sweet story and a lovely quilt! Congratulations on the birth of your sweet granddaughter! I’m making this same cake mix quilt for a dear elderly widow friend. Either end of the life spectrum and all in between… quilts are the perfect gift for someone we love!

    • Linzee McCray says:

      Thank you so much, Pris! I think you’re so right about the appropriateness of giving quilts across the generations.

  2. Elizabeth Ernst says:

    A wonderful story. And great choices for this sweet quilt. Enjoy that little angel Freya and thank you for sharing the story and the pictures.

  3. Clara says:

    Brought tears to my eyes…such a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing your quilt and baby pictures.

  4. Marianne Perry says:

    What a lovely story. And that last line of your post should be displayed in every quilter’s studio-preferably hand stitched!

  5. Nana of Four says:

    How do I obtain the Cake Mix Recipe cards?

  6. Barbara Esposito, The Quilted B says:

    I love this story. Let’s all remember why we do what we do – for the love of the craft, for the love of the process, and for the love of the recipient! Thank you for the reminder!

  7. My grandkids (all 7 of them) have at least one quilt and ask ‘is that for me’ with each new quilt I make. Told them they will get one more when they graduate from high school, gives me 5 years till I need the next one… LOL! Your story and quilt are just wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

    • Linzee McCray says:

      I can’t wait til little Freya is ASKING for quilts! How much fun for you and how lucky your grandkids are, too. Thank you for your kind comment.

  8. PS — that little granddaughter is pretty special too!!

  9. Laura Curnan says:

    Congrats on you new grandchild. Before time gets away from you…start an I spy quilt…include all you fav fabric and the baby will love searching for all the secret finds. Working on my second for a favorite little person. Love to your family . L.Curnan.

    • Linzee McCray says:

      Thank you so much, Laura. And I cannot wait to make an I spy quilt! I’ve already started collecting fabric, but figured I had a couple of years before she’d be ready for it. Maybe not?

  10. Debra says:

    I love the quilt. Stitching is awsome. Did you hand quilt? If so, I admire you. I have a twin bed size quilt ready for hand quilting, and my hands are itching to go. Are the circles hard to do? Thanks.

    • Linzee McCray says:

      Hi Debra: No, this quilt isn’t hand-stitched. I machine-stitched it, but I’m very happy with the outcome. Good luck with your quilting. Handwork is so soothing.

  11. Lisa W says:

    What a sweet grand babe and a great story of her quilt! This story was the exact encouragement I needed today as I am working on a graduation quilt for my niece. I consider myself a beginning quilter and when a block is not quite as perfect as I might like, I become a little discouraged. This is the perfect story that the end product will be perfect when it is ‘wrapped around someone I love.’ Thank you!!

    • Linzee McCray says:

      Your quilt will be lovely, Lisa, and I’m sure your niece will be thrilled to have such a special quilt. Thank you for your kind words.

  12. Mary Platt says:

    I love this quilt. I am finishing a quilt for my 31st grandchild, starting a quilt for my 32nd, and making baby quilts to keep in a stash for future babies (there will be great-grands someday). This will be the next quilt I make!

    • Linzee McCray says:

      Oh. My. Goodness!!!! You are such a lucky woman to have 32 grandchildren, and they are so lucky to have you for a grandmother! All the best in stockpiling those quilts for future generations. Just amazing!

  13. Sandra B says:

    What a beautiful quilt! I love that the fabric prints are great for a baby, but will be perfect as your granddaughter grows older! And your color selections are so soothing!! And I love the spiral quilting…I have done one quilt project with a spiral, and will definitely do it again.
    Thanks for sharing your quilt…and congratulations on the birth of your granddaughter!!

  14. Mary Ann Scanlon says:

    Sweet quilt, sweet story adorable baby!

  15. Sue Boyle says:

    Love this quilt! Could you please tell me what the finished size is? My niece is expecting and wants gender neutral ! This is beautiful. Thanks

  16. Susan says:

    What a wonderful story. Congratulations on your granddaughter, Freya (a beautiful name by the way). The quilt is gorgeous – I just love those Recipe Cards. I have three granddaughters (6 y/o and 3 y/o twins) all are now asking for quilts – every time I send a box to my daughter they ask if it’s a quilt. I make each of them 2 a year – Birthday & Holiday – they definitely come from the heart.

    • Linzee McCray says:

      Thank you, Susan. I love that your grand daughters show so much excitement about their quilts. Sounds like they are very lucky girls to have you in their lives!

  17. Alice Janak says:

    I’ve heard so many times how ladies just don’t like to do the binding on their quilts. I on the other hand love doing the binding, there is just something about those stitches that say I love doing what I’m doing. I can’t imagine how wonderful it felt holding that sweet little one in your lab while you completed her very 1st quilt, made with so much love. Hopefully someday you can teach her how to say I love you in this very special way. Blessings.

    • Donna Lee says:

      Alice, I love sewing the binding too. I can’t imagine doing machine binding! After spending so many hours lovingly putting the quilt together, I find it so relaxing to sit and sew the binding while admiring the quilt on my lap.

  18. Linzee McCray says:

    I love binding too, and it was definitely the most fun I’ve had binding a quilt! And though I know I have to wait a few years, I can’t wait to teach her to sew! Thanks for your kind comments, Alice.

  19. Daphne Baum says:

    Love this sweet story. Congrats on the new grandbaby! I am expecting 2 new little grandbabies this year and this quilt looks perfect for them. 1 each , of course I also have A thing for striped binding. I thought i was the only one. Who knew?
    can you tell me what the finished size is, please?

    • Linzee McCray says:

      Hi Daphne: Two grand babies! You’re a lucky duck. The quilt measures about 45″ square. Happy stitching!

      • Daphne Baum says:

        Thanks

        • Daphne Baum says:

          Is your new granddaughter named Freya Grace??? My beautiful niece (Grace) and her husband just had a baby and named her Freya Grace. Could it be the same baby girl??? It’s an unusual name.

          • Linzee McCray says:

            Hi Daphne-you’re right–an unusual name, but not that unusual, apparently. Great minds think alike… And remember, Janet Clare’s new line of fabric is Freya and Friends. I think it’s a name that’s more common in the UK. Congratulations to you and your niece!

  20. bobbie rumler says:

    this was a neat story and i’m impressed what was just to sew turned out to be beautiful…I have a neighbor just had a baby girl and she soooo tiny (April 8th) so her quilt is getting quilted today I have made about nine baby quilts in the last year…another baby boom in our neighborhood….the striped binding is so cool I love that too

  21. Linzee McCray says:

    Your neighbors are very lucky! Nine baby quilts—that sounds like so much fun. Happy stitching!

  22. I am a relatively new quilted and ordered some fabric from Old South Fabric. They actually called me to clarify an order. I thought that was great customer service and the fabric was so pretty.

  23. Donna Lee says:

    Linzee, congratulations on beautiful Freya Grace! My newest grandaughter was born in March. Such a joy. She is grandchild number ten for me. Grandchildren are such blessings.

    • Daphne Baum says:

      Hey, wait…my niece just had a baby and named her Freya Grace???? My niece is named Grace

    • Linzee McCray says:

      Thank you, Donna…and lucky you. Ten grandchildren. A perfect excuse to make lots of quilts!

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