Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Astronomical Quilt Block Challenge

Astronomical Quilt Block Challenge by de Jong Dream House

Our five-year-old is deep into his obsession with space. I am deep into my obsession with quilting. It's not often that these two passions meet, but thanks to astronaut--and fellow Minnesota native--Karen Nyberg, they have.  Check out this video of the first quilter in space!

Take a look at her quilting space in the International Space Station!

And I'm pretty sure there's never been a more beautiful display wall.

She also made this star block during her stay 220 miles above the Earth. 

This block is the first in a new Star Block Challenge presented in cooperation between Karen, NASA, and the International Quilt Festival. If you're  a quilter (or want to be), create your own star-themed quilt block by August 1, 2014. 

Click here to see the PDF in a larger size.

Houston, Texas is home to both NASA's Johnson Space Center and the International Quilt Festival. According to Rhianna Griffin, a spokesperson for the International Quilt Festival, nearly 600 blocks have already been submitted from all corners of the world, including Australian, Brazil, Canada and Ireland. The blocks will be pieced and on display at the annual festival in Houston this fall before being permanently display at NASA headquarters.

Clearly, this was a project both my son and I could get behind!

I use PowerPoint to design a block. The only requirements were that the finished blocked needed to be some variation of a star and have a finished size of 9" (unfinished 9.5"). I chose red, white, and blue as the primary colors to represent both the USA and the Netherlands (to honor our dual nationality family--do you see the red tulips?). I used black along the edge to represent space, and the blue arrows to express exploration.

I realized when I was making this that 32 2" squares don't leave a lot of room for error! The 3.5" NASA square seemed positively huge in comparison!

I started with the HSTs by cutting 6" squares as follows: 2 blue, 2 black, 1 red, 1 white. I learned a new trick while making this block, and it was really handy for making 8 little half square triangles (HST) at a time.  First, I drew an X on one 6" square, then secured it to another 6" square, right sides together, with hair clips. (Refer to the chart for color pairings).

Then sew a 1/4" seam on either side of both lines.

Here's where the magic happens. By making four cuts, you end up with eight HSTs. 

Repeat with all three blocks. 

And voila! Eight half square triangles!

I copied the NASA logo from the web and used it to design my middle 3.5" square in PowerPoint. I added the dotted line around the inner 1/4" to make sure my words weren't cut off when stitched to the other pieces.

I printed the NASA square onto printable fabric. I should have used sew-in fabric rather than iron-on, but it worked out okay.

I ironed the square onto the same white fabric I used on the rest of the block.

After this, the block came together quickly.

Close up of the center.

And done with a month to spare!

D drew this picture to go along with our block.

If you have made (or are will make a block for this project), post a link below. I'd love to see what others are creating!

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Monday, June 30, 2014

Patriotic Applique Shirts

Patriotic applique shirts by de Jong Dream House
We've been watching a lot of voetbal around here lately...that's soccer to those of us not born in Europe or Africa or South America...or pretty much anywhere outside of the USA. The World Cup is going strong and with both the USA and the Netherlands in the round of 16, I decided to whip up a few shirts for our son to show his dual nationality pride. 

Fortunately for me, both the American and Dutch flags are pretty easy to replicate--no ornate crests or designs. I've been wanting to practice applique to build my confidence for a quilt I have in the works. 

I used a 4"x6" index card as a template for the flag. I found the red and stripe fabric as a fat quarter at Joann Fabrics awhile ago. I knew I could use it for some patriotic project in the future, so I snatched up a few of them. I found the blue star fabric, which is 2"x 2.5", at Walmart. 

 I used Pellon Wonder-Under to make the fabric sticky so it would adhere to the tee shirt. 

This is the way to use the transfer web if you want to make a mess of your iron! Learn from my mistake and cut out the Wonder Under to the same size as your fabric so that the bordering transfer web does not melt onto the iron.

This really should have been done before ironing the Wonder Under.

After a minute, you can peel off the backing. Check the wrong side of the fabric and you should feel the shiny webbing.

I started with the stripes. I ironed the piece again, this time right side up, to adhere the fabric to the tee shirt.

I stitched around the striped piece as close to the edge as I could. I then repeated the process with the blue star piece. I didn't take photos because on of my best friends from Michigan surprised me with a visit! I only remembered to take a photo of the finished applique!

My happy American boy models his shirt.

Of course, I had to make a Dutch shirt too. I flipped the notecard over to make sure that my lines were even. The red piece is 4"x 6".  The white piece is 2-2/3" x 6" and the blue stripe is 1-1/3" x 6".

I followed the same process to make the applique. 

Two happy Dutch boys...especially after yesterday's win over Mexico in the round of 16!

Our next door neighbors are Italian, so I also whipped up some Italian shirts. For these, I made the white piece 4"x6" and the green and red strips 2"x 4".

Updated: July 1, 2014
I may have a new addiction. I made a Canada tee today in honor of our friends to the North.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Homemade Mama Chia

Homemade Mama Chia by de Jong Dream House

Up until a few years ago, the only thing that came to mind when I heard the word chia was the popular cha-cha-chia pets of my youth. (By the way, you can still buy them!)

When I started making food from scratch, I learned that chia is not only a fun decorative plant, but it's also a superfood with lots of health benefits. I notice a definite increase in energy and decrease in appetite and cravings when I eat them so I've been adding chia to my granola, yogurt, and tea for years. But recently I've become a big fan of Mama Chia drinks.
They are fruit drinks infused with chia seeds and they.are.delicious! They are also really pricey ($4 for a small bottle!) so they are definitely a rare splurge. Fortunately, I discovered that it is super easy to make at home. As you can see from the photo above, there are many variations on this recipe, so you can adapt the recipe depending on what you have on hand or whatever you are currently craving.

(this makes a 32 oz. jar of Mama Chia)
  • 3 T. chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Juice 
  • lime juice (optional)
  • seltzer water (optional)


1. Add 3 Tablespoons chia to your glass jar. I like to make this in a jar because it makes it easy to shake up the drink when the chia seeds settle, and makes my drink portable. I'll often throw in a couple ice cubes and take it with me when I'm out and about.

2. Add 1/2 cup hot water to the jar. Every time I make this I am grateful for our Instahot dispenser. 

3. Give the chia seeds and water a little swirl or shake to make sure that all the seeds are wet. If needed, add more water. Then let the chia seeds sit for at least 10 minutes. They will expand and create a gelatinous texture. The longer you let the seeds sit, the thicker the liquid will become. If you want a thicker drink, you can make the chia/water mix before you go to bed and add the juice in the morning. Please note that the longer you let the seeds sit, the more water you will want to add. I would suggest at least a cup of water if you let the seeds sit overnight.

I should mention that the texture of this drink will likely cause people to love it or pass on it. It's not a typical liquid, but it's not thick like a shake or smoothie either. If you like bubble tea or similar drinks, you'll likely enjoy mama chia. 

4. After (at least) ten minutes, you can add the rest of your liquid. This is where the recipe gets loosey goosey. Basically all you need to do is fill up the rest of your jar with liquid. For a stronger taste, you could fill up the jar with any choice of your choice. For a more diluted drink, you could add half water and half juice. I like to add lemon or lime juice for a citrusy punch. 

5. And if you want a little bit of carbonation to your drink, you can add mineral water, club soda, or seltzer to the mix. Again, totally optional. Part of the fun of this drink is its versatility.

6. Finally, add your favorite juice. I'm been a little under the weather lately, so I've been guzzling cranberry juice. We just picked up some strawberries from our CSA, so I'm going to blend them up and make a strawberry version next. I also have some coconut water that I may use instead of water on a future batch. I think apple cider in the fall would be delicious!

7. Finally, give the jar a good shake and you are ready to enjoy!

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Quilt #7: Luke's Baby Quilt

L quilt

My year of rotten health continues. I have been diagnosed with Valley Fever, a not-so-nice souvenir from our recent trip to Arizona. I haven't been spending a lot of time on any projects other than resting, but tonight I'm finally going to tell you about a baby quilt I made last...September. 

My  neighbors had a little boy named Luke, so I liked the idea of making a quilt of little L's. I drew it up on PowerPoint. 

I used my then-new towel bars from Ikea to audition fabrics. 

I made up an instruction sheet to visualize what I needed to do. 

My main background fabric was a colorful ABC print. I cut a 2.5" strips of the ABC print as well as each of the four tone-on-tone prints and sewed them together along the long side.

Once sewn and pressed, I cut each strip into 4.5" squares. 

 I made two types of blocks: one with blue and green squares, the other with yellow and orange squares.

I sewed the L's together first.


 I found this red and blue polka dot print for the border.

Pinned and ready to quilt.

I went with easy straight line quilting.

Ready for binding.

I used iron on embroidery to add the baby's name.

I also made a matching tag blanket. 

I don't make quilts for hire and I don't usually tell the recipient I'm making a quilt before it's done. I'm no expert, but I love that I have found a way to give to others when my TBI has made me a taker in so many ways. I don't expect my quilts will be heirlooms, and once they are given away, it is up to the recipient to decide what to do (or not do) with them. But, nothing makes me happier than to receive a picture like this. 

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