One of the reasons I got into this whole sewing thing is that I wanted to make my own baseball jersey. I have been obsessed with having an “authentic” looking flannel for sometime, but I am not the type to spend $250+ on an article of clothing, no matter how cool that I might find it. On our trip to Washougal, I found a lovely piece of white wool flannel (cream might be a more accurate description) and had in my mind a multitude of potential uses. However, that piece of fabric sat in the box of potential projects for a long time, mostly because I wanted to make something “perfect” or truly “authentic” looking.
I spent the better part of a year looking for a pattern, but too no avail. Sarah and I went round and round about how it was such a simple construction that I didn’t really need a pattern, but for some reason I held onto this five dollar piece of wool like I would never find another. Inspired by a cold winter, and a need to get back into sewing, I decided to go for it. Sarah and I made a pattern by using Swedish tracing paper and an old jersey that I had (let’s be clear, this in no way was a $250+ piece of clothing, it is a jersey made out of sweatshirt material, it was cheap and huge and I have never worn it). Basically, the “pattern” is a simple shirt with a wide, curved facing that goes all the way down the front and around the neckline.
The next step was to find a jersey to replicate, and of course I wanted to do my Cincinnati Reds and I thought there was no more appropriate players’ jersey to wear than Frank Robinson. Robinson was one of the original bad-asses in C-town and in one of the worst trades in baseball history was traded to the Baltimore Orioles because the Reds said he was an “old” thirty. The very next year, he hit for the Triple Crown with the Baltimore Orioles and continued his Hall of Fame career. Robinson eventually became the first African-American manager and later managed the inaugural season of the Washington Nationals, where his old school hard-assness was refreshing as a baseball fan to see.
I choose the 1957 uniform after looking through the baseball Hall of Fame’s Dressed to the Nines exhibit. I liked two things about this — that it’s vest and that I would be able to cut out the logo from felt by hand and have it look good/authentic. This is one of the seasons that the Reds were known as the “Redlegs,” so as not to appear that they were the Communist team. Put all of these together, along with the irony, and coolness came together in a perfect storm.
Making the jersey was pretty quick and painless, especially without sleeves. I decided to bind the sleeve holes with shinny cotton bias strips (Oh yeah new skill, making bias strips!). While it is hard to tell if the sleeves were actually bound in the original, I really like the look in my version. I made the logo and the numbers out of a wool-rayon blend felt. I have used acrylic felt on other things and frankly the wool-rayon blend, while a little more expensive, looks and feels so much better (the 100% wool felt is too rich for my blood). To get the size of the numbers and positioning correct I used the Liebe Apparel web site, which has a fantastic guide on numbering and lettering sports jerseys.
All in all, this was a fun project, and for less than $20 I had my throwback jersey and accomplished something that I had set out to do in the beginning. I was lucky to find the a nice piece of flannel in flat folds table, so most of my money was spent on felt. Sarah and I had so much fun figuring this out that we are going to do a Video Threads episode on DIY baseball jerseys (of course I will make the road gray jersey). And down the road, I think I will also try designing a vintage-looking hockey jersey as well.
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