Astronaut Quilt
November 1, 2013

NASA Astronaut Recruits Public For Space Quilt Project

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

In addition to handling all the typical activities of an astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS), flight engineer Karen Nyberg of NASA created a quilt block and has invited fellow quilters to help her in creating a global community space quilt.

Nyberg, who is preparing for her return trip back to Earth, recently shared the star-themed quilt block via a web video. She invited the public to come up with their own star-themed quilt blocks to help celebrate both her time in space and passion for quilting.

"Now that I've tried my hand sewing in space, I can say one thing with certainty: it's tricky," Nyberg said. “First of all, it’s keeping all of your things in order - Ziploc bags come in very handy.”

In addition to using plastic bags to keep her supplies in order, Nyberg also had to use Velcro and magnets to prevent her scissors, needles, thread and straight-edge from drifting away.

“It’s taken me a long time … quite a while, a lot longer than you would expect it to take,” she said. “But it’s been fun, it’s been a fun experiment and it’ll be neat to have a quilt block that I can say was actually sewn during my time in space.

"This is what I've made,” she continued. “It's far from being a masterpiece, but it was made in space. I'm inviting all of you to create your own star-themed quilt block. We'll be combining them with my block to create a quilt for next year's 40th anniversary International Quilt Festival in Houston. I can't wait to see what we make together."

According to NASA, videos of the astronaut’s quilting aboard the ISS will be shown in a NASA exhibit at the 39th annual International Quilt Festival Thursday running through Sunday, Nov. 3 in Houston. The exhibit is said to include space-related sewing samples from spacesuits, parachutes, a cargo transfer bag and other items from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Nyberg and The International Quilt Festival will work together on stitching the squares for a display at the 40th annual International Quilt Festival in 2014 and other events. The Houston festival is the biggest annual quilt festival in the world, with more than 60,000 guests annually in attendance.

Nyberg was raised in the small town of Vining, MN, about 80 miles southeast of Fargo, North Dakota, where her love of sewing began. "My mom and dad are both very creative people and made a lot for all of us kids - everything from snowmobile suits to prom dresses." Nyberg said. "My mom taught me to sew when I was about five or six years old."

As an adult, Nyberg said she still enjoys those creative crafts she learned as a little girl.

"I love it. I would sew all day every day if I could, I love it that much," she said. "I haven't made any clothing items for quite some time but I have sewn drapes and pillows for the house and of course, lots of quilts and other things that I've given as gifts."

More information on how you can participate is available here. (PDF)