Race for the Cure Quilt

Regular followers of the blog might have noticed that we didn’t have too many posts over the Summer and into the Fall.  And why was that you ask?  Well, Heather’s computer died which made photo editing difficult….and I was covered up by a massive project.

What project you ask?  Well, in the category of “how do I get myself into these things?” I was making a gianormous quilt for the Race for the Cure.  Race for the Cure Quilt Top

You see, last year in the photo booth we were a bit off in our fabric measurements.  So this year I was thinking ahead and in our August planning meeting I said I was going to sew a backdrop that would be the right size.  I even had an idea that I could use past race t-shirts in it.  That’s when Deb said “oh wouldn’t it be great if you could make it into a quilt that we could then auction off at the Perfectly Pink Party in May?”

Don’t let those doe eyes fool you folks, that Deb Davis Groves will go after what she wants.

I instantly regretted mentioning that I was taking a class on quilting and working on my first quilt as I gave her a somewhat blank stare and someone, apparently me, uttered “Uh, yeah, sure”.

WHAT.  Who goes from making a BABY sized quilt to a KING sized quilt?  Apparently this girl.  Because Deb and Kheira produced the t-shirts I needed with AMAZING speed.  Well, shoot, now I really gotta do this.

So I did what every sane person does and took the t-shirts home, folded them up and then ignored them for WEEKS.

I got to the point of no return and I HAD to do something.  See, what was dragging me down was my design of the quilt.  Race for the Cure Original Quilt Plan

When it got down to brass tacks, I just didn’t like it, it was too traditional for me.  So I finally sat my butt down and designed something new.  (Woah, pretty close to how it turned out right?!)Race for the Cure Quilt Inspiration

I even went to the trouble to check out the proportion of the quilt by putting in fake people from last year’s photo booth – I’ll spare you that photo.  So I ran right out and picked up 17 yards of fabric.  Yes.  17 yards.  Those long pink stripes with no seams do not come without a lot of fabric.  Thank goodness for JoAnn’s coupons!!!  Prewashing and 17 yards of ironing ensued.

I got the top assembled pretty quickly with a bit of help from The BunkHouse on how to prep the t-shirts.  That took a whole weekend.  (And it was a good thing I had 16 t-shirts and only needed 15 because I immediately cut the first one waaaay wrong!) Race for the Cure Quilt in Process

After that, the top went together quickly and it looked wonderful!  I admired it on the wall, instagrammed it, sent pictures of it to my friends and, in general, loved it.

But all good times have to come to an end, and I need to get to the actual quilting part of this quilt!  So I took it down off the wall and started to tackle pinning and quilting of this mighty beast.

We wrestled.  We fought.  There was smoothing and re-smoothing.  It took up the entire floor of my living room – The quilt is 117″ by 97″!! (or about 10 feet by 8 feet).  It took my entire collection of 300 quilting pins and I felt like that wasn’t even enough!  So I just started quilting.  (Not to mention, but squee!  Look at that adorable ribbon fabric I found for the backing – I bought the entire 8 yard bolt to make it!)Race for the Cure Quilt BorderI will say it was quite and effort – I was just doing a few basic lines across the quilt with some wavy ones through the pink bands.  It took up the entire dining room table and then some.  I had systems of chairs set up to “catch” the quilt as it came off the machine – I didn’t want it to drop to the floor and pull the stitches I was working on with the weight of the fabric.

Then, how to quilt the t-shirts themselves.  I really wanted to quilt around each ribbon, but I don’t own a long arm quilting machine and cramming a king size quilt through my tiny machine was a serious effort.  I broke three needles on the first two ribbons.  Then we came to an understanding, this quilt and I.  With a complicated set up of rolling, turning, stitching, twirling, re-rolling, stitching some more, I was able to quilt each of the ribbons – just BARELY in time for the race.

In fact, I hadn’t even finished quilting all the ribbons when I just said “Dang it!  I’ve got to get this binding on!” It was the weekend before the race and I needed that on the quilt in order for it to be ready for Race day – I’m a slow hand sewer so stitching over 35 feet of binding was intimidating with only seven days to go.  I took that darn quilt with me everywhere!  It went to packet pick up, it went to work during lunch hours, it spent a long time with me in front of the TV just sewing.  I’m still not really sure how it got done.  But, boy, it did, thereby allowing me to finish the last ribbon the NIGHT before the race.

When I arrived at the Survivor’s tent on Sunday at 4:30am, the first order of business was to take off the quilting pins…I still think we missed a few.  It was still dark so you can understand how we missed ’em!

But what a smashing success!  Thanks to the photobooth props from last year and a wonderful augmentation from Jill D we were slammed for the entire event.  I LOVED these pictures of survivors and their families having a blast – it made all the pain worthwhile.  Race for the Cure Quilt

And now, I get to pass the quilt on.  Komen Austin is hosting the Perfectly Pink Party on May 4th and this quilt will be one of the items auctioned!  Check out events details at:  komenaustin.org/perfectlypinkparty and go place your bid!!  It all goes to a good cause!



4 thoughts on “Race for the Cure Quilt

  1. Wow Martta!
    What a lovely quilt and such a beautiful idea.
    Yes, as the backdrop for the survivor’s photos it is just stunning.
    You are so brave…and sweet and kind !
    XO, Marilyn 🙂

  2. Phenomenal jump and baby quilt artistry translated to over-sized king successfully. Congratulations! You can count on Martta!

  3. Pingback: The Baby A Quilt | HMH Designs

  4. I am writing to ask if we can include an image from this site for inclusion in a forthcoming book Quilts and Health to be published by the non-profit educational Indiana University Press in late 2017. The book is being co-authored by a team at the Michigan State University: Marsha MacDowell, Clare Luz, and myself and grows out of research conducted for many years.

    The image is of two men in the center wearing pink boas flanked by a lady on each side, standing in front of a pink ribbon quilt. It is advertising an event in Austin, TX.

    If you are interested, please email me at donald20@msu.edu for details and deadlines.

    Thank you for considering this request,


    Beth Donaldson, Marsha MacDowell and Clare Luz
    Co-authors, Quilts and Health
    Central Services, Michigan State University
    570 Red Cedar Road, #103
    East Lansing, MI 48824

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