Back in early November, I got a note from reader David Byrne (no, not that David Byrne), who said his father, Dick, was taking a sewing class — the only male participant in a class of nine people — with the goal of making David a DIY Detroit Tigers jersey. He was planning to make it entirely from scratch. In other words, he wouldn’t start with a blank jersey; he would start with fabric and a pattern and build the jersey from the ground up.
Judging by David’s description, his dad is a bit of a character:
My father doesn’t march to the beat of a different drummer; he is the different drummer. He is a retired mechanical engineer but looks more like a biker. He has been confused with Santa Claus and compared to Dusty Hill of ZZ Top. He has always been very comfortable with himself and his interests and not really concerned with what other people think. He has built his own canoe, sails a boat, shops for antiques, and has taken classes to spin wool with my mother, just because she was interested in weaving. He has even been known to make some of his own clothes, sometimes to the embarrassment of his son.
Last year he beat cancer and is excited to get back to doing more than sitting around. So, when he came over and showed me the sample stitch patterns from the new fully-automated sewing machine he got for his birthday, I laughed, but I wasn’t surprised. His first assignment in his sewing class was to make pajamas from a pattern, but then he volunteered to make me a Tigers jersey, to my own specifications. Although the home whites with the old English D are unquestionably the best in baseball, I had an idea about having a road jersey, but replacing the script “Detroit” with an old English “Detroit.”
My father agreed. For fabric, he got a microfiber polyester that at Field’s Fabrics, a local chain based in the Grand Rapids area. He went with the microfiber because gray was surprisingly difficult to find in a double-knit polyester, except in large quantities. The mircofiber material is much thinner than the double-knit, and might be a little blouse-y, but I don’t mind because I always wear a T-shirt when I wear a jersey anyway.
Anyway, my father offered to chronicle his efforts. Are you interested?
Naturally, I said yes. About a month later, David sent along his father’s first dispatch. Non-DIYers will no doubt find it a little involved, but I want to run it anyway. Here it is.
Building a Tigers Jersey: Part One
By Dick Byrne
I’m going to explain what I’ve done in as much detail as possible, as if someone were attempting the same project using only these instructions.
The first step was to get a pattern for a baseball jersey, something I quickly found to be almost non-existent. On the internet, the one I liked was an old Simplicity pattern No. 5978 (Men’s and Boys’ Baseball Uniforms, All Sizes). A single copy sold on Etsy last August for $2.50. In desperation, I purchased a UNC pattern 6236 (Unisex men’s and misses S Baseball Jacket, Shirt, Pants, Shorts, Hat) for $4.75 on eBay. Unfortunately, that “S” before the word Baseball meant it was a size small. It’s also is stylish sportswear version of a baseball uniform, so it may not be true to an actual Tigers uniform.
When I got to class, my instructor said she didn’t have time to redraft the pattern and suggested getting Kwik Sew Pajama pattern 2388, which has a similar shirt, the neckline of which can be slightly redrawn to look like the baseball jersey from Simplicity 5978. The tuck-in shirttail was also transferred from Simplicity 5978. I traced the size Large lines onto tracing paper (Scott Project Paper, $3 at Hobby Lobby) and lay them out on the gray fabric using my wife’s cardboard cutting board on the bed (click to enlarge):
The pattern instructions showed a layout for 60” wide material. The fabric comes folded with good side out on the bolt, so fold the opposite way and lay the edge of the back piece identified as “Fold” along the fold, so you get both sides of the back with one cut –- don’t cut along fold line. The front piece is laid away from the fold, so you get two separate pieces with one cut. Pieces also have to be laid out with the “grain” arrows all pointing the same way and parallel to the fold. Pin the pattern pieces to the fabric around the perimeter every 8” or so, so that it stays put during cutting. Cut out all the pieces within about 1/8” of the pattern lines, with special care at the diamond shape tabs for joining, leaving you with pieces like so (click to enlarge):
That’s it for this round. Next time, we sew.
Redesign the Browns: As most of you are probably aware by now, the Browns are headed for a facelift in 2014, so I’m running a “Redesign the Browns” contest on ESPN. The only catch is that you have to use the current helmet design, since team owner Jimmy Haslam has made it clear that the helmets won’t be changing. For further details on the contest, look here.
Uni Watch on the Potomac: As I’ve recently mentioned in the Ticker, the National Museum of the American Indian will soon be holding a symposium on racist and appropriated imagery in sports. I’ll be heading down to DC to cover the event for ESPN, so let’s have a Uni Watch get-together while I’m in town, shall we?
The gathering will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 7:30pm. At present, I’m thinking that our venue will be the Post Pub, although that isn’t yet finalized. (If you have a compelling argument for a different venue, I’m listenin’.) Looking forward to meeting all you DC folks.
Show & Tell update: Photos and stories from last week’s installment of Show & Tell are now available on the Show & Tell web site.
PermaRec update: There’s also a new entry on the Permanent Record blog, about a really cool handwritten book of rules to live by.
Uni Watch News Ticker: In my ESPN piece about the new NBA All-Star Game uniforms, I mentioned that this was the first time that a year had appeared on an ASG uni. But that statement was incorrect: The year appeared on the 2010 and 2011 uniforms (thanks to Ben Hayden for setting me straight). … Someone on the Knicks was wearing houndstooth socks yesterday (from Christopher Falvey). … Here’s an article about hockey mask artist Dom Malerba (from Brian Codagnone). … Neglected to mention yesterday that Maryland basketball wore “pride” uniforms on Wednesday. … New brand design for American Airlines. … Indianapolis has been awarded an NASL franchise, and fans are being invited to name the team (from Patrick Runge). … Here’s a piece about British menswear designer Paul Smith, who designed the leaders’ jerseys for this year’s Giro d’Italia cycling race (from Sean Clancy). … “The Islanders held their Blue & White game on Wednesday, pitting the Isles (blue) against their AHL club the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (white),” says John Muir. “Evgeni Nabokov and injured reserve list mainstay Rick DiPietro broke out the season’s new pads for the game. While Nabby’s mask is essentially the same, DP’s mask can be considered ‘new-ish,’ since it’s his bucket from last season — when he participated in only nine games.” … New jersey sponsor for Sporting Kansas City (from Kyle Romine). … New women’s lacrosse uniforms for Northwestern. The seven stars on the back represent the team’s championships under head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller. … The Aussie Football League is experimenting for the first time with NOBs (from Craig Snyder). … Interesting article from 1968 about the debate over NHL players wearing helmets (from Jerry Wolper). … Svetlana Kuznetsova has switched from Fila to Qiaodan (thanks, Brinke). … Lance: Honestly, who gives a fuck. Like most megalomanial athletes, he’s an utter bore. … Te’o: Well, at least they didn’t wear a memorial decal for his dead girlfriend.