[Editor’s Note: Today we have an excellent guest entry by Ryan Connelly, who tells the tale of a DIY project gone horribly awry. — PL]
By Ryan Connelly
My buddies and I started an ice hockey team and named it the Invaders. Just a low-C, high-B level team that plays other local adult/beer league teams. So of course this gave me the opportunity to design a uniform.
I was playing in a tournament in Mississauga, Ontario, when I saw one of the players wearing this jersey and immediately fell in love with it, for obvious reasons. When I found the blank jersey online, I thought it was black/yellow, but when I got it in the mail I was surprised to find it was brown/yellow.
Before I go on, I should explain that I’m color-deficient, so one of the things you’ll notice is the jersey and socks being brown/yellow and the logo being black/yellow. It just adds to the “charm” of the uniform, trust me. But really, it kind of works out nicely with our black pants, gloves, and skates.
Then I started to goof around in AutoCAD. I traced the game’s wordmark, teamed it up with an invader guy, and resized the wordmark. Then I prettied it up a bit and put a spaceship-like boarder around it, to create the finished logo.
The next task: uni numbers. I played the game online for a bit until I could get to the “High Scores” screen at the end of the game because I knew it would rank at least 10 names. That way I would have every numeral to work with.
With the logos and numbers now designed, it was time to create physical versions of them for the jerseys. I printed four or five copies of the logo outline on a plotter to scale. Then I
cut out the spaceship-like border, invader (body, arms, antennae separate), and each letter, pasted all of that onto cheap yellow construction paper you can buy anywhere, traced each element, and then cut again. Now I had logo templates to trace onto fabric.
As for the numbers: For this step I printed all the numbers to scale then cut. I wanted to use two-tone numbers (yellow with a black border), so this had to be done in two steps. The first set of cut-outs was the black outline of the number; when cut, it was obvious which number was which. But the second set was the yellow inner part of the number, and they were just basically blocks. so I assigned a letter to each shape.
Take the number 8 for example: The number 8 uses blocks “i” and “H” to make up the yellow parts. The yellow “i” block is also used in the numbers 6, 9, and 0, so no sense cutting out nine different stencils. I just cut one block and reused it for tracing. I also printed out a smaller version of the stencils and used them as a key when putting together the fabric.
With the stencils made, it was time to trace everything onto fabric, beginning with the logo. First I traced the logo outline and cut out the logo shapes. Then I traced the invader guy, cut the invader guy into little rectangles, cut all of them out into their finished shapes (with a little “B” on one side for “back”), and organized them for gluing.
I used a template guide to line up all the yellow invaders with the black outline and glued. I followed basically the same steps for the letters. After gluing. I later stitched. When the logos were done, I followed basically the same steps for the numbers.
Now it was time to put everything onto the jerseys. I lined and centered the stitched-up logos and numbers on the jerseys, then glued them onto the jerseys, and then stitched. The front looked like this, and you can see a bunch of the backs here.
The first five were finished and look great! Then I washed one of them and … DISASTER.
I had used a heavy twill-like fabric called duck cloth — the same kind of cloth used for bean bags in games like cornhole. And to hold the numbers, logos, and letters in place (both to themselves and to the jersey), I’d used a glue that, unbeknownst to me, pretty much dissolves when washed. As the glue wore off in the wash, the stitching cut right through the material.
What a mess. And we had a game coming up real soon! So after all that time, money, and energy, I gave in. I sent the logo and the jerseys out to a local screen-printing business, picked out some old-school block numbers, and ta-da. Here’s a close-up of the front, and here’s how they looked from the back.
I think the block numbers add a certain charm to the whole jersey. Also, I’ve told the team that I’m going to make logos the correct way over the winter. It really wont take much to place the sewn logos over top of the screened logos.
This project was started around mid-April and finished up in mid-July. Looking back, I can be 110% honest when I say that I was NEVER mad when the material got destroyed in the wash. A touch let down, but never pissed off at all. Also, I had an absolute blast working on this project from start to finish! Working on the logo, finding the materials, working with the team. Nothing was ever a burden on this project, and I loved every minute of it.
Last but certainly not least, I got this completely awesome DIY of my DIY by the great artist himself, Mr. Robert Marshall. You can see it bobbling [along with some trenchant Uni Watch commentary and a perfect example of the conflicting urges to create and destroy — PL] here.
And speaking of DIY: Paul here. Wouldn’t you like to own one of these sweaters? You can, if you have a knitting machine, because Rick Fleck recently mailed me this officially licensed 1990 knitting guide, which provides sweater patterns for all 14 NFC teams at the time. I’ve scanned the entire guide and put the page scans here. I know exactly zero about intarsia knitting, but I would love it if someone could make a sweater based on one of these patterns.
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say most of you reading this probably don’t know how to knit. But maybe your significant other does, hmmm? Get crackin’, guys.
College Hoops Reminder: I’m continuing to work on my college hoops season-preview column for ESPN. So if you know of teams with new uniforms, new patches, new court designs, etc., let’s have ’em. Thanks.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Really interesting article about a new skate sharpening method here. … Dozens of tremendous old Iowa football pics available in this gallery (with thanks to Rob Leavell). … Rob Nanovic notes that Maine’s football team is wearing Adidas jerseys and Nike pants. … Hmmm, White Sox hockey jerseys — interesting (with thanks to Zach Nesler). … Fascinating info from George Tvardy, who writes: “Very interesting story that has been on the sports shows here in Knoxville: Although Adidas is Tennessee’s supplier, the black alternates worn Saturday night were not actually Adidas jerseys. Story is that Mike Hamilton, UT athletic director, only agreed to the wearing of the black jerseys late Friday afternoon and UT then got a local printer to make the alternate jerseys. Since UT has the Adidas contract, they had to put Adidas logos on these jerseys so that they would not be in violation of their contract.” … Stop what you’re doing and read this absolutely essential article about flannel jersey fabric. Highly recommended reading (great find by Dave Grob). … Brian Brown has made himself a coffee table based on the old Mecca Arena court design. … Oopsie. … Latest reason to hate jersey sponsorships: If two soccer teams show up wearing the same sponsor, one of them has to change (with thanks to Terence Kearns). … Paul Wiederecht sent along a great SI spread from the 1963 Army/Navy game, with Navy wearing SOB (slogan on back). The story behind the slogan is explained here. … Speaking of old SI material, Ricko pointed me toward this great 1954 item about heavyweight sweaters. Here’s the second page of the spread, and a close-up of the short text. … The London Daily Telegraph is the latest media outlet to publish a rundown of history’s worst uniforms, except their survey consists primarily of soccer and rugby kits (with thanks to Craig Ackers). … Totally awesome vintage Chinese Taipei warm-up jacket available here. … Late-breaking Halloween submission from Mike Miller, who got a photo of a friend dressed up as Dave Dravecky. … Even better, Joe Rosenbaum dressed up as Billy Ripken. … Cleveland textiles maven Steven Tatar tipped me wise to this letterman jacket operation. “They’re the real deal,” he says. “Leather sleeves, melton wool bodies, chenille hooked tip-on letters, and chain-stitching to boot.” … A French soccer player wore the wrong jersey the other day (with thanks to Jeremy Brahm). … Anyone know why the Coyotes wore white at home last night? … Mark Windle notes that Coy Wire appears to be missing some jersey piping. Yes, the nameplate could be covering up some of it, but not all of it. Hmmmm. … Steve Garvey + Dwight Gooden + and Super Dave + a blindfold = a really cheesy old video clip (big thanks to Steve Mandich). … Aaron Stilley has been doing some Negro Leagues research and came across an interesting item in the Chicago Defender. “I can’t tell if there was something specifically humorous about the Chicago American Giants numbers on backs, or if it was just strange that they had numbers at all,” he writes. “Would numbers on backs have been a unique sight in 1938?” I don’t think so, but I know very little about Negro Leagues uni history. Anyone..? … Kobe appears to have put on just a bit of weight (with thanks to Dwayne White).