Race for the Cure Survivor Wall

I was digging through pictures to find images of my Race for the Cure quilt which will be auctioned at the Perfectly Pink Party coming up on May 4th when I ran across photos of the flower wall we created in this year’s Survivor Booth. Race for the Cure Flower Wall 2

When I was planning out the booth for the year, I was trying to brainstorm a way to incorporate the names of survivors into the booth and I came up with the idea of a flower wall.  Now, I’m just the idea man on this one folks, because the fabulous Karen is the one who actually hand made all 1400 flowers for the wall.  Here she is all decked out in gear from the photo booth props. Race for the Cure Flower Wall 1To assemble the wall we had volunteers write the name of a survivor on each flower.  Each flower was then taped to a string that was about 9 feet long (make sure to only make the flowers on the string about 8 feet long and you’ll have room to tie the string at the top and bottom.) Race for the Cure Flower Wall 4I then got two 1″x2″ boards that were 8 feet tall and drilled a hole in the top.  We had a handy dandy chain link fence which I attached the boards to using zip ties.  I strung a line through the hole drilled in the top of the of the boards and we began to tie the flower streamers to the line.

The idea was we wanted the flower wall to flutter and move in the breeze, but it turned out to be a heck of a windy day and we ended up tying the bottom of the flower streamers to another line at the bottom of the boards.  We still had plenty of movement and folks weren’t battered by streamers gone wild!

It even worked from the backside as our race co-chair showed peeking through from the outside. Race for the Cure Survivor Wall

The end result was great and many ladies took pictures with their flower or when they found their flower, they plucked it from the wall and took it with them.  We had spare blank flowers and racers were able to add names of other survivors they knew so any holes were quickly filled in.

I loved using the survivor’s names in the booth and will definitely find a way to incorporate this idea for next year’s booth!



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!


Race for the Cure Photo Backdrop

It’s that time of year where the prep for Komen Race for the Cure starts to really kick in.  Last year the photo booth in the Survivor’s Tent was a huge success – with a line all day long.  This year we’re coming back with double the fun of two photo booths.  This past weekend we had a decorating party and one of the items we made was a hand painted photo backdrop – here it is hanging in the office at Komen, just waiting for race day!

Our photo booth is an 8’x8′ background so I picked up 10 yards of simple white fabric, cut it into thirds and sewed all three pieces together to create a 10’x10′ canvas.  Inspired by a hand written poem backdrop at a wedding, our committee chair suggested we use the lyrics from the Martina McBride song “I’m Gonna Love You Through It”.

So I laid down some plastic drop cloth and someone ironed the back drop and we taped it down to get started.  And I just started painting.  I had a handy piece of lathe to help me keep in a straight line and it was fairly slow work so I could make sure I was sticking to a fairly level mark.
Did I mention this was slow work?  Thank goodness I had a moral support committee to read me the lyrics, make sure I was spelling words right and keep me talking so I wouldn’t notice that my hips were killing me after two hours of sitting on the concrete floor!
 But it turned out sensational!  I can’t wait to see some folks take pictures in front of it!



Race for the Cure Wrap Up

We had an amazing time in the survivor’s tent at Race for the Cure this year!  I think it was all the details and hard work the entire committee put into the event that made it happen!

Some of the highlights on the decoration front included:

The hanging of all those paper pom poms and word phrases

They looked a little ragged on the day of, but the impact still came across.  I hung them when the tent was set up on Friday and in between then and race time we had 20-35 mile per hour winds….since there are no walls on the tent I was happy to see them still there at all!!

We had chalk artists come and draw a pink carpet that led survivors straight into our tent:

Once they arrived we had chalk directions on the ground that pointed to the highlights of the tent including: Goodie bag pick up (if they had missed out before the race), face painting, photo booth, massage chairs and of course, breakfast!

This was a great last minute add when we realized we were working with such a large area!  An improvement for next year might be to have the directions posted on a sign post for folks to check out when they walk in – that way it’s at eye level.

The photo booth was a hit!  I didn’t leave the area the whole time I was so busy taking pictures for people with their cameras or cell phones.  We did have two stations set up.  First we had a white backdrop with the fringey ribbon:

We miscalculated a bit on the white background fabric but saved the day with some excess table skirt.  One of the members on the committee had her husband build the structure out of PVC pipe – they were pretty genius.  The finished size was approximately 8’x10′.

So that one looked great, but this one…..we’ll not so much

So sad!  It was like a creepy haunted house crepe paper disaster!  The inspiration looked like this:

So effortless and wonderful…..yeah what a disaster!  It was SUPER humid on race day and you know what paper is not a fan of?  that’s right, it’s water.  On the one or two pictures we got in before it totally fell apart it looked GREAT.  But lesson learned.  Use fabric for this sort of backdrop outdoors!

It was the props in the photo booth area that made it so fun.  We had pom poms, tiaras, mustaches, crowns and lips on sticks, empty frames but by far the two most popular props were the year badges:

and the sashes:

On the year badges we went up to 22 and happily had to figure out a way to make a 34 for someone!  For the sashes we had two Survivor sashes, and one each of the following: My Mom, Co-Survivor, My Hero, Champ and Co-Star.  We’ll add a My Sister for next year’s race.

Loads of ideas and inspiration for next year!


Race for the Cure Decorations Making Party

Well now that I have all these ideas for decorations for the Race for the Cure Survivor’s tent, I need some help getting them implemented before the race.  So a few weeks ago I hosted a decorations making party at my house.  I set up four project stations:

Fringey Ribbon Making: For the party, I created the base of the six foot tall ribbon in advance.  Using the method I described in my fringey crepe paper decoration post, I traced the shape onto foam core, cut it out pieced it together and spray painted it pink.  To make a ribbon this size, I needed four pieces of foam core and an entire can of spray paint.

At the party, one dedicated volunteer fringed crepe paper for three hours!  It really is a big ribbon.  Surprisingly, the crepe paper really went a long way – We only used one giant roll of light pink and half of a roll of dark pink for the giant ribbon plus two additional smaller ribbons.

I spent the entire party gluing down the crepe paper that was cut out.  I ran through one giant glue stick and two additional glue sticks to get the job done!  The end result is definitely worth it!  I think this ribbon will look awesome as a backdrop for photos on the day of the race.

Photobooth: At this station we created props.  In advance of the party, I spray painted the off-cuts of foam core from the ribbon project.  I found some great tiaras/crowns and lips/mustache printables at Oh Happy Day and Barefoot Beads (Hawaii).  I printed a few of the images on card stock and used spray adhesive to attach them to the painted foam core.  I also picked up a few dowels and spray painted them as well.

On the day of the party, several volunteers carefully cut out each little delicate curve and then hot glued and taped a dowel to the prop.  In the mean time, I spray painted two terra cotta pots pink and picked up some play sand to use as a prop holder.  Additionally folks donated pom poms, sashes, jackets, tiaras. 

Pom Pom Making: Ahh paper folding.  I first tried this out for my Oscar Party last year and it was a hit.  It’s a lot of impact for a little money.  I picked up about 75 packages of tissue paper.  At a $1 a pop, it does add up, but we’ve got a 40’x40′ to decorate along with an extended seating area!  It’s a lot of ground to cover!  Using this tutorial from Martha Stewart, we folded, folded, folded.  I find that one package with 10 sheets of tissue paper can make three small sized pom poms or one large pom pom.

At the party we were able to make about a dozen pom poms….there is certainly a lot more folding ahead to create the centerpiece of the tent! 

And Phrase Stringing: I’ve already cut out all the phrases before the decorating party.  All we needed to do was string them on fishing line as I did in this previous post.  Unfortunately we got too wrapped up in all the other decorations and these got neglected!  More work ahead! 

A party wouldn’t be a party without food!  My menu include:


An army marches on it’s stomach and we spent about four hours working on decorations that day so we needed all that tasty food 🙂


Fringey Crepe Paper Decorations

Austin’s Komen Race for the Cure is coming up quickly!  It seems that every Saturday and Sunday from now until the race (on Nov 13th – register here!) is booked with a packet stuffing or handout or some other race prep meeting.  This weekend I’m kicking off the whirlwind with a survivor tent decoration party at my house.  It’s going to be a lot of folding, gluing, taping, and cutting.  We’re putting in a lot of sweat equity to pull off some fab decorations for cheap.

One of the projects we’re working on is the backdrop for our photo booth.  When I was searching for inspiration for projects with big impact for no $$, I ran across this post on Oh Happy Day about creating fringey monograms.  Michaela created a giant 2 for her daughter’s birthday.  I knew I could take this concept and run with it.

I picked up a few supplies and dug into the stash at home to come up with everything I’d need for this project:

  • Foam board – on sale at Hobby Lobby for $1.50
  • Crepe paper streamers in pink and hot pink for $2.80
  • Pink spray paint -$5
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors
I wanted to create a giant fringey Race for the Cure ribbon.  But I didn’t have time to install it on a wall like in the inspiration blog so I hit upon the idea of using foam core as the base.  It’s light, portable and easy to find.

To get started, I needed the ribbon base.  I used a projector to resize the ribbon image and project the ribbon on to the wall.  I then simply taped my foam board to the wall and traced the shape on to my foam board.  Simple.  It’s like 3rd grade art class again. 

And when you finish, you have a shape that’s all ready to cut out:

I cut the ribbon out using an box cutter knife…and it’s now that I remember that cutting curves in foam board is a giant pain in the booty.  Here are my tips for not chewing up the foam too much:

  • Use a sharp #1 X-acto knife with a #11 blade.
  • Slice the board in three passes: First cut the top side paper, second cut the foam and third cut the bottom side paper.
  • Use a sander to clean up any edges or a Dremel if you are obsessive compulsive – totally unnecessary for this project!
As you can see, I didn’t do the best job – I need a new #11 blade so I had to fall back to my box cutter…whoops.  At least the finished product won’t show the sides too much!
Not knowing what kind of coverage I’d get with my streamers, I decided to paint the ribbon.  It made for a nicely finished look on the final piece. 
Now to the tedious part: Clipping the streamers into fringe.  In the Oh Happy Day post they found some wonderful crepe paper that they folded and fringed.  That’s really lovely, but I don’t think far enough in advance to order things like this from the internet….and crepe paper streamers are so easy to find in the store….so lots of clipping for me!  I found that folding the streamer a few times and then clipping yielded a much better length of fringed streamer than making each clip one at a time.  
I clipped for an entire episode of Colbert to get this pile of loveliness.  On to the gluing!  Here’s the fun part – just start gluing those strips of streamer down.  I spaced mine about 1/4″ apart.I wanted to capture the overlapping effect of the ribbon so I ended and started in a few places. It would probably have been better to put the hot pink on after I finished the row of light pink, but it wasn’t too difficult to tuck a few ends under.  I did do a bit of trimming on the edges here and there to smooth out the look.  Overall, I think it turned out smashing! For $2 or $3 per ribbon, the price can’t be beat – I’ve got a ton of streamers left over and I’m ready for more!

Now to use this same method to create an even bigger fringey ribbon!

Race for the Cure Survivor’s Tent Decorations

This year, I’ve decided to take a more active role in one of my favorite charities.  For years I’ve participated in my local Komen Race for the Cure as either a walker or runner or team captain, but 2011 is the year to step it up a bit.  So I’ve volunteered to help by dedicating time to the survivor’s committee.

This is totally the best committee to be on – we get to have all the fun!  Our primary goal is to celebrate the survivors on race day.  I’ve volunteered to be in charge of decorations and even though the race isn’t until November 13th (register here!) I’m already in full planning and execution mode.

It’s a charity event so as you can imagine, we’re on a shoe string budget.  We’ve had some wonderful vendors step up to donate food, photography and flowers for the event but we’re on our own as far as the rest of the decorations go.  I’ve reached into my grab bag of cheap, high impact goodies and come up with a few ideas.

Pinterest has been a great help in providing ideas and visuals.  I saw this idea for Christmas carols from the Katie Did blog:

I thought to myself, I bet I can repurpose that with inspirational Komen Race for the Cure phrases and really cover a lot of territory in the tent.  So I picked up a pack of pink card stock at Office Depot for about $15 and dug out some old fishing line I have in my garage as well as a needle and some tape.

To begin, I brainstormed a few inspirational phrases like I am a survivor, I race because I can, cure ahead: Prepare to race, I race for my mother, I race for me, etc.  You get the idea.

Katie cut out all her phrases free form, but I know I’m waaaay to OCD for that.  Plus, I’m going for a clean crisp look.  I decided to print out the letters and simply cut along the lines.  I figure the lines are so fine that people aren’t really going to notice from far away.

I played around with many fonts trying to maximize the size of the letter and make sure that all the letters fit on the page.  A font and size that works great for an ‘L’ might be too big for an ‘O’ or ‘C’.  I finally settled on Bookman Antique font in bold, size 300.

In a moment of OCD madness, I then threw all the phrases into Excel and did a quick pivot table to give me letter counts.  I figured I might as well print all the A’s at once and then move on to the B’s, etc.  I did have to sort out all my phrases after I was done printing, but that only took a few minutes.  Overall, I think it was faster than printing out each phrase separately.  And, as a bonus, this allowed me to take advantage of the fact that some letters are narrower than others which enabled me to fit three I’s to a page, thereby saving paper.  This was also a good double check to make sure that I had enough paper.  My phrases in total ended up being about 150 pages of paper – I’ve still got 100 sheets left!  (I’m sure I’ll find some use for it….)

I took each phrase and placed it in an envelope and took them all to our survivor committee meeting – nothing like the power of lots of hands to get phrases cut out! 

Once all the letters were cut out, I grabbed an X-acto knife and made some slits at the top of each letter. 

I then carefully threaded the fishing line through each letter, making sure I was going in from the front of the letter and coming out from the back side.  The leaves just a small piece of fishing wire in the front of the letter and a longer piece to tape on the back side. 

Once I’d finished all my threading, I made sure to leave extra length at the beginning and end of the phrase so I’d have plenty of leeway when I went to hang the word art.  Next, I laid the letters out to make sure I had the spacing right. 

Once I was happy with the spacing, I flipped the letters over and taped the fishing line to each letter on the back side.  

My word art is complete!  It’s easy to fold up and tuck back into the envelope and wait for race day or take over to the Komen office to show off ideas for the tent.  

Sorry for the poor picture quality, I’ll be sure to post loads of pictures from the completed project!