In March 2009, my sister Jo and I decided to take part in Vertical Rush, a sponsored event to raise money for the charity Shelter. In the end we beat our fundraising target and won a prize for the most inventive fundraiser! Since the preparation involved a fair amount of ingenuity and crafty-ness I think it only fitting that it gets a place here More about our costumes and how we made them is below.
So,Vertical Rush is basically a race up the fire escape stairs (all 920 of them) of Tower 42 – the tallest building in the City of London. Our cunning plan to raise money was to do the event (including fundraising during the day beforehand, and the champagne reception afterwards) in full fancy dress, and to get our friends, family and collegues to vote on what we would wear by ‘bidding’ with their donation. The costumes with the highest amount of donations would win!
Here’s our original costume list leader board:
Costume Leader Board (+ ideas):
Examples: Wicked Witch of the West and Dorothy, Tom and Jerry, Bo-Peep and A Sheep, Cop + Robber, Cowboy + Indian, Alice in Wonderland + the White Rabbit (note the chasing each other theme – good while running up stairs!)
Chicken + Egg = £105 (Finally we’ll know which came first!)
Bunch of Bananas = £95 (Bananas in Pyjamas! But we’re running up the stairs!)
Jack Sparrow + Capt. Barbossa/Bottle of Rum = £70
Cat Woman + Wonder Woman = £42 (we’re liking the powerful woman thing!)
Captin Scarlet + Aqua Marina = £10
A Cardboard Box + A Trolleyfull of Plastic Bags = £10
Dick Dastardly + Muttley = £5
Clown + Dumbo = £2
Scooby Doo + A Ghost = £1
A Sabretoothed Tiger + A Caveperson = £1
Vetoed Costume Ideas:
Mr Blobby – inappropriate due to overheating; Bikinis – inappropriate due to underheating
So we smashed our original fundraising target of £300 and ended up dressing up as: Chicken (Jo) + Egg (Em)
Unfortunately, due to health and safety restrictions, I wasn’t allowed to wear the full egg costume for the actual race (in case I caused an obstruction in event of a fire). However, I did wear it for the whole rest of the day, including all around central London, to several workplaces (mine and friend’s) as well as the posh champagne reception in the evening (pics of the day further down the page).
How we made the costumes
The Egg Costume
So now we get onto the fun and interesting bit…..
To make the egg we designed a pattern that was essentially 6 pointy tear-drop shapes sewn together. I made up a template in paper and pinned and cut around it in heavy cotton drill fabric.
I cut holes in the top and bottom, checking that I’d be able to easily climb in and out of them. Later on I also cut two holes at the front for my arms. I made circles of rigelene boning (used for support in corsets etc.) and zigzag stitched them on the top and bottom, and at 3 more points on the body. These hoops held the egg outwards in it’s proper shape, a bit like a crinoline corset. Here I am testing sizes for the waist and bottom of the egg:
And trying out the hooped egg so far:
I decided it also needed vertical boning to try to keep the shape smooth and curved. By now the whole thing was so bulky it was very hard to get through the sewing machine (and I was running out of time), so I decided to use gaffer tape to fix the vertical bones on. now gaffer tape is sticky, but not great at fixing to fabric, so I ended up covering the whole thing in order to keep it all stuck together!
Luckily this also had the effect of smoothing out the whole shape and making it look much more like an egg (albiet a silver egg!) Here’s me having fun trying it out again, and the silver egg with the base of the egg hat to show the general shape the costume will be:
I then used the original pattern to make an egg-shaped outer layer of peachy satin. Now it’s starting to look like a real egg!
I made the arm holes and neatened up the edges, and the egg part of my costume was done. I needed a hat so I found a 30cm polystyrene hollow egg on ebay (I think it was designed to be decorated and filled with sweets for easter). It came apart in half lengthways, which I didn’t want, so I glued it together and then used a breadknife to saw it in half widthways. I hollowed it out a bit more so that it would fit on my head, and covered it with some more of the peachy satin fabric. I finally added a strip of the satin as a bow to tie the whole thing on my head.
[pic of hat]
To finish the costume off, I wore plain black clothes underneath and painted my face white with a big yellow circle for a yolk. Voila!
I also had to make a substitute Egg costume for when I was actually climbing stairs (and wasn’t allowed to wear the real Egg). My frantic last minute solution was a white top with ‘egg’ written all over it in felt tip pen (see action pics below).
The Chicken Costume
Still to add…..
The Day of the Race In Pictures
Travelling to Tower 42
We have to climb that?
See you up there….
We made it to the top!
Fundraising around London
Fundraising at my work
My brave sister even went to her driving test in costume! (she did take off her wings though)
The champagne reception and awards
After the Event
Now for the most important bit; the result! We both completed the event in 14 minutes and 5 seconds; Jo was placed 582nd and Em 583rd, solving the age-old problem of whether the Chicken or Egg came first! But (as I mentioned above) the icing on the cake was when we won the awared for the Most Inventive Fundraisers!
We had a fantastic time preparing for and taking part in Vertical Rush 2009. We want to thank all the generous and fantastically supportive people who helped us in our efforts.
Here are some links to more information and pictures of the event and what we did:
Shelter Vertical Rush Information Page: http://england.shelter.org.uk/what_you_can_do/events_and_challenges/vertical_rush
Facebook Group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=51628477011
Justgiving Page: http://www.justgiving.com/emandvertijo
Photos of the Event: http://www.flickr.com/photos/emilywilliamson/sets/72157615672131086/