Making Good: A NASA Challenge Where Community Crafting is the Star

I chose to make a shooting star with leftover scraps of a celestial patterned HGTV HOME fabric for the Star Block Challenge. (photos by Bob Farley)

When I heard about NASA Astronaut Karen Nyberg making a star-themed quilt block for a global community quilt while on board of the International Space Station, I had a million questions run through my head. How would that even work? How did she keep the scissors from floating around? What about the pins and needles? What about the dust and frays from cutting the fabric? Then I got on YouTube and watched the video of her explaining how she made the block. There were all of those issues to deal with, but she dealt with them. At the end of the video, she invites the earthbound quilters to join the Astronomical Quilt Block Challenge. Hilarious! Seeing her long weightless hair in zero gravity was the cutest. Then she did a floaty back flip before turning the camera off.

A sewing party with my new friend Julie Nelson was fun. I made a star quilt square, and Julie made an Alabama mini quilt.

I thought it would be fun to have a little sewing party with my new friend Julie Nelson, co-owner of Painted Shovel Mercantile. Her store is stylish and quirky, and located in the newly revitalized and vibrant neighborhood of Avondale in Birmingham. Julie paints, sews, and restores any ole thing she can get her hands on. She is always making Alabama art. I mean that literally. She makes art out of the state of Alabama. She made a quilted Alabama during our party in the sewing shack.

I cut the shooting star contrails out of an embroidered upholstery fabric.

I decided to make a shooting star for the star block challenge. I had HGTV fabric leftover from making funky holiday stockings and tablecloth overlay, and I chose a midnight blue for the background. The swirling star contrails are made from an embroidered upholstery fabric.

Julie made an Alabama mini quilt. She is good at making Alabama-themed art.

I layered the HGTV HOME fabric with the embroidered fabric to make a shooting star for my star-themed quilt square.

There is just a little bit more time left to send in a quilt square for the Star Block Challenge! Entries for the Star Block Challenge are due on August 1, 2014. Karen Nyborg’s star block made in space will be combined with the entries to create a quilt that will be displayed at the International Quilt Festival in Houston in the fall. To submit your own star block, read the details and rules here.

Update: You can see photos of Karen Nyberg with the finished quilt here.

This post is part of our new Making Good series about makers who use their DIY skills to better their communities. Check back for more Making Good posts, including ideas you can bring to your own community.

2 Responses

  1. Trish says:

    Oh my goodness! Thank you for sharing your sewing shed with us. I couldn't remember where I had seen the curtain idea with the recycled bead chain. I have great need for something like this. Again….gorgeous space for gorgeous works!


About Michelle Reynolds 


I’m a slipcover maker who refuses to fill the trash with the cutaway bits of designer fabrics, so I strive to make use of every scrap. I live with my ...

More About Michelle Reynolds