Got a note the other day from Terence Kearns, who wanted to tell me about his latest DIY project. Along the way, he raised an interesting question. Take a look:
Here’s another one of my hybrid DIY varsity jackets — a 1930s-inspired Chicago Blackhawks jacket. Just like my last one, I found all the patches on eBay and the jacket was right off the rack, so the whole thing cost me about $120.
When you posted my ’86 Mets jacket last month, someone in the comments said, ‘It’s not DIY if you pay someone to sew it on for you.’ JimV suggested calling it DIO (Do It Oursleves). Now, I don’t have the skills or equipment to attach chain-stitched or chenille patches to thick wool melton or leather sleeves, so I outsource the sewing, and I’ve still created a one-of-a-kind, quality sports schwag in the DIY spirit that I think is awesome. And that’s the point, isn’t it?
It’s an interesting question, one that reminds us that everything is relative. After all, if you really wanna make a DIY jersey, shouldn’t you sew the shirt together yourself, instead of buying a blank one at Wal-Mart? For that matter, shouldn’t you grow the cotton from which you make that shirt? If you’re making a DIY wool jacket with leather sleeves, shouldn’t you shear the sheep and tan the leather?
Obviously, that’s an unreasonable standard to impose. But those examples are useful reminders that almost every DIY project includes elements that have been, as Terence puts it, outsourced. Does it matter? Is there a hierarchy of DIYness?
This debate reminds me of something I used to hear back in the 1990s, when I published a zine. At that time, zines had been around for many years but desktop publishing software and internet networking were starting to make some zines look more slick, like “real” magazines. This led to a lot of chatter about whether something deserved to be called a zine if it was professionally printed instead of being xeroxed at Kinko’s, or if it had any full-color content, or if it had advertising, or if it had corporate advertising, and so on. Lots of litmus tests.
My feeling, then and now, is that a zine is an independent publication whose subject matter, voice, and point of view are largely a reflection of one person’s distinctive sensibility (preferably an interesting, articulate person with an eccentric sensibility, but you can’t always have everything), and all the rest is a big gray area. Similarly, I think a DIY uniform project is anything conceived and executed by one person’s vision, even if some of the execution is done by someone else.
Would it have been “better” if Terence had sewn the patches onto his jacket himself? Sure. For that matter, he could have made his own patches, instead of buying them on eBay. But he wanted pro-level patches, and that’s fine. He also didn’t have the resources to sew onto leather, and that’s fine too. Still counts as DIY in my book.
Then again, maybe I’m not the right one to be offering that assessment, since I’ve never made a DIY jersey myself. And I understand that someone who does all his own sewing, like Bryan Justman, might take a dim view of Terence’s approach. What do all you other DIYers out there think?
Giveaway Reminder: Today’s the last day to enter to win the Jaguars jersey box. Details here.
ESPN Reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, here’s my Super Bowl column on ESPN.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Ladies and gentlemen, your new, semi-permanent Super Bowl industrial complex logo. Key quote, from the NFL’s huckster-in-chief: “We feel that 45 is a special year. It feels like it’s the perfect time to launch it.” It must be very interesting to be the sort of person who can give that kind of quote with a straight face. … I meant to post this earlier in the week but forgot: Nike’s “Pro Combat” marketing campaign has gotten out of hand. … Latest organization holding a logo-design contest: the National Endowment for the Arts (with thanks to Todd Radom). … Here’s something we missed from last weekend: The Maple Leafs wore camouflage jerseys during pregame warm-ups last Saturday. “I believe they were honoring Canadian soldiers who had come home from Afghanistan,” says Jenn Walsh. … Interesting longjohns controversy in the soccer world. … Some interesting Rochester Red Wings pics from Paul Bielewicz: First, these 1960s shots of Joe Altobelli and Boog Powell show the team’s “ball with wings” logo wrapping around the sides of the batting helmet. … The Fleer Sticker Project has hit the holy grail, the mother lode, the pièce de résistance: NFL Chiquita Banana stickers. Full details here. … More Fleer Sticker goodness: NFL soft drink promotions. … The good folks at Strictly Fitteds are celebrating their third anniversary with a giveaway contest — one lucky winner will win 100 fitted caps! Details here. … You can see Chuck Bednarik strapping on a leather helmet with a facemask here (great find by Giancarlo). … You probably knew this already, but it’s always good to be reminded: That Reebok jersey you’re wearing was probably sewn together by woefully underpaid Third World labor. … R. Scott Rogers sent along some awesome jersey photos he took at the Cedar Rapids Kernals ballpark museum, plus he pointed me toward a nice little photo gallery of historical team photos. … Bruce Genther collects vintage uniform catalogs, just like I do (read: We often bid against each other), and lately he’s been scanning the most uni-relevant pages from the catalogs in his collection. First up: 1962 Wilson and 1973 Rawlings. … Last week’s issue of Fortune magazine (which I was once the marketing columnist, believe it or not) has a nice little piece on concussion-sensing football helmets (as forwarded by Joe Nocella). … Here’s a cool article about Vermac, the Belgian company that outfits lots of cycling teams (with thanks to Sean Clancy). … Also from Sean: “SpiderTech, the prepackaged kinesiology tape, is sponsoring a road bike team in Canada, called SpiderTech presented by Planet Energy. At the launch, Canadian cycling legend Steve Bauer auctioned off one of his yellow tunics from the Tour de France. The team sported the tape while dressed in full kit at the official team launch, so they were all taped up and just standing around in sneakers. … Major development on the package design front, as Heinz has revamped the single-serve ketchup packet (big thanks to Adam Brodsky). … Some goot chatter about hockey stick taping here (with thanks to Ken Juba). … Good catch by Eric Trout, who noticed Michigan State’s Draymond Green wearing Sacramento Kings practice shorts underneath his game shorts. “With MSU being a big Nike school, they probably wouldn’t be thrilled with the three stripes flashing underneath their uniform,” he notes. … Ugliest sneaker ever? It’s certainly in the running (with thanks to Austin Chen). … According to this article, Colorado football ” will likely wear 1990 throwback uniforms throughout next season” (as noted by Matthew Robins). … Whoa, check out this totally groovy Penguins patch! Never seen that one before. Anyone else? (Awesome find by Jason Bernard). … You know how medical journals always have stories about people who show up at the emergency room with Coke bottles up their ass or crayons in their urethra or whatever? Here, at last, is a uni-related version of that kind of story (blame Paul Wiederecht). … Rob Harrigan wrote up a nice ode to his favorite bowling shirt. … I’m several days late with this, but RIP, Jane Jarvis — you were a crucial part of the soundtrack to my childhood.