Star quilt-block patterns for an astronomical block challenge

Posted by on January 16, 2014, in quilting & sewing

9-inch Aunt Eliza's Star block from Quilter's Block-a-Day CalendarThink about you, quilting. Pair that image with your wildest, most wouldn’t-it-be-amazing dream. What does your marvel of a quilting experience look like?

For astronaut Karen Nyberg, her quilting adventure was a literal out-of-this world event: making a quilt block in orbit, on the International Space Station. Wow! Inspiration doesn’t come on a scale much grander than that.

Happily for quilters, Karen Nyberg has invited us to take part in that celestial quilting experience. How? By making a star-themed quilt block as part of the Astronomical Quilts Block Challenge. Submitted blocks will be stitched into a quilt along with Karen’s block, and the quilt will be displayed in Houston, Texas, at 2014 fall Quilt Market.


Astronomical Quilts Block Challenge

What’s the challenge? Submit a star-themed block, of any style, that measures 9½" square unfinished, so that it will measure 9″ when pieced into a quilt. Use a permanent marker to write your name on the front of your block.

How many blocks can I submit? One block per person.

When must entries be submitted? August 1, 2014.

You can find more information about the Astronomical Quilts Block Challenge, including specifics on where to send your block, in this flyer.


Patterns for Star Quilt Blocks

9-inch Star of Illusion block from Quilter's Block-a-Day CalendarWhile it’s easy enough to find star quilt-block patterns, tracking down blocks that finish to the required 9” can be a little trickier—or so we feared. In fact, finding star blocks that finish to 9″ was easy. All it took was a quick look through a couple of our favorite block resources. Debby Kratovil has two great 9” star blocks (see them above and at right) in her Quilter’s Block-a-Day Calendar. And Judy Hopkins delivers no less than 37 different star blocks (below) in 501 Rotary-Cut Quilt Blocks. Talk about choices! The beauty of Judy’s patterns is that she gives instructions for making each block in six different sizes. So it wasn’t a huge surprise that we found exactly the dimensions we needed!

Take a look at the 9″ star quilt blocks above and below, pick a favorite, and join the Astronomical Quilts Block Challenge!

9-inch star blocks from 501 Rotary-Cut Quilt Blocks A
9-inch star blocks from 501 Rotary-Cut Quilt Blocks B
9-inch star blocks from 501 Rotary-Cut Quilt Blocks C

"On Earth, I usually use a sewing machine."

  • How does an astronaut store her quiltmaking tools in a weightless environment? What challenges does she encounter when measuring and cutting fabric in space? What’s her approach to stitching? Watch Karen Nyberg explain it all in this remarkable video, shot on the International Space Station.
  • See what other projects Karen Nyberg stitched aboard the Space Station—and boggle your mind with awe-inspiring photos of Earth—at her Facebook page.
  • Listen to Karen discuss the Astronomical Quilts Block Challenge with Pat Sloan in the January 6 broadcast of American Patchwork and Quilting Radio.

Will you participate in the Astronomical Quilts Block Challenge? If you could quilt in space, what would you make and why? Tell us all about it in the comments!


25 Comments (leave a comment)

  • I would make Fly geese with dresdens..

    shirley tener on January 16, 2014
  • A Mariners Compass with the Earth as a background……and the other planets as points…..

    —Darlene Krystal on January 16, 2014
  • I am definitely going to make a 9 inch star quilt block for the Astronomical Quilt Block Challenge. Being from Alaska and having this quilt hang in Texas is perfect!!

    Kathy Powell on January 16, 2014
  • Glad to see you getting the word out about this. If you haven’t seen the video of her on the space station be sure and check it out.
    I am already making my star to send in. If I were to make one in space I would most like to trying making something using hexies with EPP.

    —Cindy on January 16, 2014
  • I would make a Shooting Star, a bright white star that flows across the block on a sea of blue……….

    —Lori M. on January 16, 2014
  • I would make a constellation quilt with batiks that would be good for the nebulae. Why? Because I love the universe & looking at the sky.

    —Sharon G on January 16, 2014
  • Very well!!!!! beatifulll Tanks

    —Sílvia Encarnação on January 16, 2014
  • I LOVE star blocks and would combine several in an interesting layout around the quilt

    —Karol on January 16, 2014
  • I have dreamed of doing a batik stars quilt on a dark black batik. Lots of bright colors on a dark background.

    —Cindy on January 16, 2014
  • I would want to express the awe and probably the feeling of spirituality, and patriotism. So it would be an explosion of batik fabrics and sparkle. I love the cloud patterns in the sky during the day and those same clouds at night sometimes look like crystals when over, near or reflected by the moon. I imagine it is so much more glorious when travelling in space.

    —Karen B on January 16, 2014
  • I would love to make a block. I am new at this, but I would like to know do you choose our do we choose which star we make and information as to the steps to get started.
    What a great idea and priviledge.

    —Anne Alston on January 16, 2014
  • I’d love to make an applique quilt while in space. Mine would be a quilt based on the TV show "Lost in Space." The Jupiter 2, the Robot, the Robinson Family, Dr. Smith, Debbie the space chimp and a few characters they meet in their travels. Anyone remember Michael Rennie as the Keeper? Great episode.

    —Rhonda Casey on January 16, 2014
  • block B Martha Washington Star block C star puzzle – Karen Nyberg,way to go, love it

    Carolyn J Tyler on January 16, 2014
  • I would make the un-named star block which actually looks like the pattern: Birds in Flight. Since man used the bird as a guideline to create the airplane and from there to jets to space ships; the un-named star block says it all, and I would use the colors red, white, and blue.

    Keep smiling,

    Lynnita Shipman on January 16, 2014
  • I would make a Double Irish Chain with the Unnamed Star in the white centers. The unnamed star looks like a combination of the Cat’s Cradle and Birds in the Air patterns.

    Keep smiling,

    Lynnita Shipman on January 16, 2014
  • I like the wandering star pattern. It just makes me think of wandering all over to see all I can.

    —Linda Cartwright on January 17, 2014
  • "Starry Path" sees it for me -to map out the journey there and back.

    How good to have this opportunity.

    —Lee McCarthy on January 17, 2014
  • I haven’t been quilting very long, but I love it. I am not sure what I am gonna do yet. But I feel the ideas coming.

    Leslie SittingBull on January 17, 2014
  • If I were making a quilt in space I wod make a landscape of the sky stars and abet earth in it. I love makings landscapes and what a unique perspective that would be. I would enjoy making a star block for this project. It would be an honer.

    —Barbara on January 18, 2014
  • What an inspirational story…a great merging of craft and science! I will be participating in this opportunity to be part of something really BIG! If I quilted in space, I’d make several blocks, all different, because isn’t every star unique?!? Thank you for sharing this information.

    —Pearl on January 19, 2014
  • I think I would quilt Earth or the planets.

    —Sunnie on January 19, 2014
  • Do you know if she has a web site to see the finished quilt? I summited a block and was wanting to see if I could see the finished quilt. Thanks Laurie

    —LAURIE on September 8, 2015
  • just wondering where I could find a picture of the finished quilt? I did submit a block thanks Laurie

    Hi Laurie, I found a link to someone who took photos of all the challenge quilts – take a look here – I hope you find your block! –Jenny

    —LAURIE on November 5, 2016
  • How do I get a pattern with measurements for each of there blocks? I can see how to assemble them but not measurements for cutting to make all come out to the same size blocks.

    Karen folker on February 11, 2019
  • Where is the pattern with the measurement

    Linda on March 20, 2020

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