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Uni Watch DIY Project: Turning a Ballcap into a Mask

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[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from reader Ken Clark, who’s going to show us how he turned an MLB cap into a protective mask — and it was his first time sewing! Enjoy. — Paul]

By Ken Clark

I’m a registered nurse, originally from New Jersey but now living in Germany, where the local authorities have recommended that everyone begin wearing facemasks when out in public. Since these masks are simply not available to purchase, my daughter and I decided to make our own out of items readily available in our house.

I took our trusty seam ripper and got to work dismantling an old California Angels cap. I decided to use the front two panels in order to show off the team’s logo:

I wanted the mask to be more or less formed to the shape of my face, so I found this flexible copper wire in the basement. I figured I’d be able to sew this into the mask and then adjust it once it was on my face.

When I removed the front two panels of the cap, I left the strips of fabric covering the seams on the inside. I wrapped these strips around the copper wire and sewed the loose side onto the outside of the mask. I chose to do this on the outside, rather than the inside, to reduce the friction on my face. As you can probably tell, it was my first time sewing:

I need straps to hang the masks from my ears, so I doubled up some fabric bandages left over from an old injury. We had to use whatever materials were readily available, even if it happened to be camouflage:

My daughter supplied some hair ties to go over the ears. That’s a 35-year-old Decepticon monitoring my progress.

Here’s the final product:

You may be wondering about the circular ventilation holes. Although not shown in this step-by-step sequence, I used a thick, felt-like material to line the mask, so that helps to block the holes.

Next: I had an old multicolored seersucker bow tie in the closet that I’d never worn. It was blue, yellow, green, and pink. I decided to turn it into a mask for my four-year-old son.

I sewed the main portions of the tie to create a wide surface to use as the mask. Then I folded over the curved parts of the tie and sewed in the copper wire:

Here’s the final product. Lots of color and hopefully lots of protection:

I find that last photo both adorable and depressing. We’ll get the wires in the mask adjusted on when we use it out in the wild.

Last but not least, I made a mask for my wife out of an old necktie from her company. I took the label from the back and sewed it onto the front so her fellow essential coworkers know of her dedication to the company (she works for a firm that sells pharmaceutical ingredients to pharma companies around the world). I sewed a thick, fleece-like pad into this mask, to act as an extra barrier. She still needs to shape her mask, but once that’s done she’ll look stylish in silk.

I know some people are skeptical about masks. And it’s true that these types of homemade masks are not 100% effective. Even an N95 mask is only 95% effective when it fits the wearer properly (and it takes a lot of effort to ensure the proper fit). But any type of protection is better than nothing. Protecting yourself involves a range of methods, including wearing a mask, hand washing, and isolation. Each is good individually, but your level of protection goes up as you add the others. Think of it like protecting your house from a burglar: A lock on the front door is great, but also locking your windows and adding an alarm system is better.


Paul here. I love all of this! Big thanks to Ken for sharing these projects with us, and stay safe out there.

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And speaking of uni-related masks…: The great DIYer Wafflebored has made himself — of course — a Canucks-themed mask. He says:

I had a lot of reservations about this project. I didn’t want anyone to think I was making fun of a very serious situation, nor did I want to equate sports with anything much more important happening in the world right now. But I also know that I have been very appreciative of people providing fun content to lift everyone’s spirits during this tough time, so decided to share this with that intent in mind. I also know there is considerable debate about wearing masks, and what type to wear — please note this is a novelty piece and I will not be wearing it for protective purposes.

Here are some additional pics:

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ITEM! Uni Watch spotted in the wild: Reader Harrison Hamm was watching a YouTube video in which a guy approaches people on the campus of Boston College and tries to guess their majors based on their answers to three specific questions. And as you can see above, one of the students he talks to, identified only as Ryan, has a Uni Watch 15th-anniversary patch on his jacket!

The video, which was posted a month ago, has over 760,000 views. Ryan, if you’re reading this, thanks for the exposure! Give me a shout and let me know how you’re doing. (Also, you have the same major that I had when I was in college!)

You can see Ryan’s segment of the video here:

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Meet the Uni Watch Team — Mark LaFountain: When we launched the Uni Watch Classic Cap in 2018, Ebbets Field Flannels not only made the caps but also sold them on their website and handled all the shipping. In 2019, though, they decided that they were happy to keep making the caps but didn’t want to handle the fulfillment anymore. I was wondering how I’d fit lots of bins of caps in my small NYC apartment, how I’d find time for endless trips to the post office, and so on.

And that’s when reader Mark LaFountain stepped in. He volunteered to keep the caps at his house in Maine and handle all the fulfillment tasks. I set him up with some storage bins, boxes, packing tape, a postal scale, and so on, and he took it from there. When a cap order comes in, I forward it to Mark and he takes care of it, and then he bills me each week for his postal expenses. It’s been an excellent working relationship, and I can’t adequately express how grateful I am to Mark for that.

Here are a few words from the man himself:

I live in Topsham, Maine. I came aboard the Uni Watch team about a year ago. I had been a fan and avid follower of the site for some time, and I remember when Paul mentioned he was wondering where he was going to store all those hats. A couple things occurred to me: I had room in my basement where I could keep the hats, an old dresser on which I could pack the caps for shipping, and I live in a small town, which makes access to the post office pretty easy. So I thought what the hell, I’ll offer up my services. I sent an email to Paul, we talked on the phone a couple days later, and the rest is history. It’s been fun fulfilling cap orders and sending these beauties out all over the country and to many parts of the world to folks who Get It™.

Thanks, Mark! As an aside, Mark also refs women’s DIII basketball games. Last month he was set to be the official game clock operator for a women’s DIII sweet 16-round game that was slated to take place without a live crowd, and he had agreed to write about the experience for Uni Watch, but then the game was cancelled. Too bad.

Mark is part of the wonderful team of people who work behind the scenes to help make Uni Watch possible. Think of him whenever you order a cap, because he’s the one who makes it happen.

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rafflet ticket by ben thoma.jpg

ITEM! Another membership raffle: Longtime reader and all-around good guy Mike Engle recently purchased a Uni Watch membership for me to raffle off, so that’s what we’re going to do today.

To enter, send an email to the raffle address by 8pm Eastern tonight. One entry per person. I’ll announce the winner on Monday. Thanks to Mike for sponsoring this one!

Speaking of raffles, the winner of yesterday’s FOCO giveaway is Jeff Paterno, who’s chosen a Red Sox hoodie. Congrats to him, and thanks to FOCO for once again partnering with us.

And speaking of memberships, eight news designs have been added to the membership card gallery, including Glen McCollum’s card, which is based on — get this — Canada’s 1948 Olympic hockey jersey. What a beauty!

Ordering a membership card is a good way to support Uni Watch (which, frankly, could use your support these days). And remember, as a gesture of comm-uni-ty solidarity, the price of a membership has been reduced from $25 to $20 until further notice.

As always, you can sign up for your own custom-designed card here, you can see all the cards we’ve designed so far here (now more than 2,500 of them!), and you can see how we produce the cards here.

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Some happiness amidst the gloom: It was a very happy 96th birthday yesterday for my mom, as she enjoyed video-chatting with my brother Roy, the Tugboat Captain, Uni Watch girl mascot President Caitlin, and me. Mom has always been a technophobe and have never owned any internet-related device (I arranged for the staff of her retirement community to bring her an iPad for this session), so the whole thing was all magic and science fiction for her. And she loved it! Not the birthday we all would have preferred, but still something that made her happy on her special day. As you can see in the background, the staff also brought her balloons — nice!

Mom’s pretty indestructible, so I pretty sure we’ll have several more of her birthdays to celebrate in person in the years to come. All things considered, though, this one wasn’t so bad.

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The Ticker

By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: The Reno Aces, Triple-A affiliates of the Diamondbacks, have released a new alternate cap with the letters BLC — an abbreviation of “Biggest Little City” — in the font of the neon Reno welcome sign (from Nicklaus Wallmeyer). … has published a photo gallery featuring every Syracuse pro baseball uniform they could find, going back to 1858 and all the way up to the modern Syracuse Mets [But no Syracuse Devices! — PL] (from Tom Wanamaker). … The Cedar Rapids Kernels, Class-A affiliates of the Twins, will become the “Lattes” on Aug. 7 to promote Busch Light (from @Mr.Budziszewski). … Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, who’s taken to wearing sports-themed ties during coronavirus press briefings, brought a piece of gear from every Ohio minor league team during yesterday’s coronavirus press conference, including Dayton Dragons socks! (From Dante Centuori.) … New Mile High Stadium has a home-plate-shaped marker in the parking lot, where home plate was at Old Mile High (from Kary Klismet). … The Jamestown Tarp Skunks — there’s a name — of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League have released their new uniforms. With a name like Tarp Skunks, their uniforms could be … weirder, or something (from @BallparkHunter). … An Ohio brewery has come up with the first beer that trolls the Astros for their cheating scandal.

Football News: The Chargers confirmed that their uni unveiling will be on April 21, a week from next Tuesday (from Mike Chamernik). … The Browns released a teaser video of their new unis. It’s hard to see any detail, but one thing’s for sure: block numerals appear throughout the video (from multiple readers). The photoshoot for the new unis apparently followed strict social distancing guidelines (from Erik Drost and John Sabol). … Speaking of, a Browns blog has published an opinion piece calling for the return of the team’s classic uniforms (from Bob Moon). … Here’s a great colorized look at the Cardinals’ infamous “lung” jerseys (from the always great @NFL_Journal). … Fanatics is selling a matte black Michigan State helmet with the words “authentic” and “alternate” in the title. Maybe a sign of things to come? (From @MSU_Uniforms.)

Hockey News: A Jets fan has built a mini-rink in his basement (from Mike Chamernik and Wade Heidt). … A Canadian fast food chain has partnered with hockey stick manufacturer Bauer to place credit card readers at the end of hockey sticks to maintain social distancing and limit the number of people touching a single card (from Mike Chamernik). … Fox Sports West tweeted highlights of the famous 1996 Kings/Mighty Ducks matchup where both teams wore horrendous jerseys — Burger King vs. Wild Wing! (From Kyle, who didn’t give his last name.) … Check out the Cooperals worn by Providence College in 1985 (from James O’Connor).

NBA News: Here are a bunch of examples of the WNBA’s different proprietary fonts (from James Roche).

Soccer News: Despite the pandemic, demolition is progressing at the site for what will become Nashville SC’s stadium (from Wade Heidt). … It appears VfL Wolfsburg will go with a much paler shade of green for next year’s kits.

Grab Bag: These two tweets have some great looks at a very 1970s design for the National Lacrosse League’s Toronto Tomahawks. Look at the socks on the Philadelphia Wings’ player from the action shot! (from Michael Sullivan). … Here’s something I never knew: Paralympic medals are filled with tiny steel balls that make noise when shaken. Gold, silver, and bronze medals all have different sounds, too (from William I. Wells). … A blog post has listed iconic pro cycling jerseys (from Graham Clayton).

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What Paul did last night: Really nice time on the porch yesterday evening. Bud for me, white wine for the Tugboat Captain, mixed nuts for both of us. We talked about the video chat with my mom, and how we should probably do something similar with her parents. We talked about how much longer we could avoid going the supermarket. And we talked about what kind of pizza we should get for dinner (which is silly, because we always end up getting pepperoni). And we probably talked about a bunch of other things that are a blur to me now.

The Captain had to run inside to video-teach a class, but I stayed on the porch for a bit and composed some haikus in my head:

Plague and pestilence
But this pandemic porch Bud
Makes life bearable


Not really hungry
But can always eat pizza
Mmmm, pepperoni


The world is dying
But one thought keeps recurring:
Falcons unis suck

And then I went inside and ordered the pizza. Everyone have a safe and sane weekend. Phil will take you through the weekend, and then I’ll see you back here on Monday. Peace. — Paul

Comments (49)

    The link for the noisy paralympic medals goes to the Cleveland Browns twitter for their uniform teaser.

    The alternate uniforms for the redesigning nfl teams seem to be a mystery. I’m excited and unsure what the browns, chargers, Rams, and patriots will do when it comes to their third uniform. Will mike take more of the route of bright color rush or stay more classical like they did with the bucs (faux) throwback pewter uniforms.

    I would prefer that Nike design classic home/road uniforms and they can go a little funkier with the color rush. Now mind you, I despise the color rush jerseys, but I would rather they get silly with that than the home/road jerseys.

    If the price of getting the Browns to go back to their classic brown jersey/white pants and white jersey/white pants home/road uniforms is to deal with an all orange “color rush” jersey, I’ll pay that price, you know?

    I don’t love the Bucs pewter color rush jerseys, but I don’t think it’s as outrageous as some of the other stuff out there.

    Fun to see footage of the 1996 Kings vs. Mighty Ducks game. The first set of alternate uniforms NHL teams wore in 1995-96 were really experimental.

    The few times we saw Wayne Gretzky in some purple and gold as an LA King.

    The Mighty Ducks alternate could have been decent if they had a more conventional logo and number font. Besides those glaring pimples, the uniform itself looked better than the dark 1997-99 alternate the Mighty Ducks skated around in:


    Great project by Ken, but I’m surprised as a registered nurse he got the point of pepole wearing face coverings wrong. N95 respirators etc are worn to protect the WEARER. Cloth face coverings, as well as surgical masks, are used to minimize exposures to OTHERS. This is why we still need to maintain physical distance when we go out. #StaySafe

    While I am a Registered Nurse, I also have the unique experience of specifically working in regulatory affairs/quality assurance for a manufacturer of, among other things, N95s. So I have the unique experience of understanding how these masks are used in the OR, ER, ICU, construction, and manufacturing environments.

    I also understand what is required for an N95 to be called an N95 (according to regulatory bodies around the world). In most operating rooms around the world an N95 is an acceptable alternative to a surgical facemask because they protect both the wearer and the patient.

    Now, that I’ve written all that, don’t wear an N95 unless you are a healthcare professional or have a serious health issue that would necessitate wearing an N95 (your doctor will tell you if this is the case). Wear a cloth facemask, stay home, and most importantly, wash your hands.

    James is absolutely right that “regular” facemasks are intended to decrease the likelihood that the symptom free wearer can spread the infection to others. This is the biggest benefit and you should all be wearing one when venturing out for needed supplies.

    No problem. On a side note, I’m really happy that you got to spend some virtual time with your Mom on her birthday. Today is 18 years since my wife lost her mother and I know she wishes she could have had even one more minute with her. It is incredible to think of all the events your Mom has lived through and what still lays ahead. Here’s to many more!

    The Syracuse Chiefs’ hat logo from the 90s is one of my favorite logos – not just in sports, but of all time. I remember seeing it for the first time in the AAA All Star Game, which ESPN used to televise the day after the MLB All Star Game. I would constantly draw it in the margins of my homework. As an adult, and with the reckoning that surrounds Native American names and imagery, I have some trouble reconciling my love of its aesthetic qualities with what it represents. I would hope that it’s abstract to the point that it’s not “offensive,” but is there really a way around it? They were the Chiefs. It is a depiction, albeit an artful one, of Native American headdress. Can any amount of visual appeal overshadow that?

    One of the factors of the appeal of Native American iconography in sports (and other realms) is the culture’s emphasis on symbols, color and mythology. It translates well to clothing, architecture, and jewelry. So while the aspects of misappropriation of Indian culture can be troubling and worthy of debate, nobody can question American Indians have impeccable taste. Headdresses, tomahawks, and tribal accoutrements are inspiring and worthy of aspiration.

    I had the same issue when I visited Syracuse in 2018 and saw the throwback hat for sale. I liked the look of the abstract logo but wasn’t comfortable wearing it. I bought another throwback style cap with a Chicago White Sox-styled “S” instead.

    I’m glad the Mets AAA team is back in NY State, but the Syracuse Mets “S” logo hat isn’t satisfactory. I’m not sure what it is, maybe just too chunky for that font, but it doesn’t look great.

    Your entry today about masks is frightening. Not because of New York being ravaged by Covid19, but rather the cavalier ways people where I live, are handling it. My work, though not truly essential is open for business because of the power of a political lobby. Yesterday they extended our hours based on misinformation (their quote was New York had ZERO Covid19 deaths on Thursday, so it’s coming to an end) – a quick fact check destroyed this false notion. Just hope you all stay safe and ride this thing out with some good sense because not everyone is around the country and unfortunately, a virus doesn’t understand the concept of state lines.

    Whether they go classic uniforms or not, a freeze frame close up of the helmet sure looks like the browns are staying with a brown facemask.

    Paul, any news on when the Uni-Watch hockey jerseys will ship? Wasn’t it around April 10? Thanks, really looking forward to it.

    Just this very moment got news that they’re now expected to arrive in the USA *next* Friday, so they’ll ship out the week after that. Really sorry for the delay, but that’s the world we currently live in. An email will go out to all customers later today.

    Plucked this from the comments section of yesterday’s entry:

    There are things that come from every different culture we can call out as silly, or simply dislike. I gag every time I see some preppy white person in vineyard vines attire.

    Although I don’t own any of their attire, I find the link kind of appealing because it reminds me of Pucky the Whale. Can the readers please fill me in on why I should hold the VV whale in contempt?

    In my experience it isn’t so much about the “look” of Vineyard Vines clothing or the logo but the culture surrounding those who wear it. Vineyard Vines carries the stereotype of “preppy” “frat boy” culture and most people associate the clothing with white middle/upper middle class college students who love to drink obscene amounts and partake in racist attitudes and committing borderline sexual assault. This is just the way it is seen among my fellow college students. And FWIW I think the logo is great! It’s fun and unique and I actually like some of their shirts (nice, bright, fun colors) but learn I’d rather not deal with the stereotypes.

    A very happy 96th bday to your adorable mom. Glad you guys could find a way to chat.

    Also, what an incredible time period she’s lived thru….The world and how it’s changed since she was a kid has to be incredible for her to look back upon.

    Here’s to many more Bdays!

    I don’t know why teams can’t learn from the Yankees, Dodgers, Cardinals, Cowboys, Packers, etc… that newer isn’t better. Why can’t teams with classic looks just stick with them?! The new and funky rarely stands the test of time.

    Paul, in reference to home plate in the new Mile High parking lot.

    I’m sure it was discussed at the time, but when Atlanta tore down Fulton County Stadium after the 1996 Olympics, they laid out the entire diamond in the parking lot (infield, pitchers mound, and warning track). In fact, the marker for Hank Aaron’s 715th home run and the section of outfield fence it cleared are also still in place. See linked photo.


    The Mets’ current parking lot has the plate, bases, and pitching rubber locations for Shea Stadium. It’s often fun to see people staging photos with one person on the mound and another at bat!

    Of course, in the background of the picture showing where home plate was at the old Mile High Stadium (now the parking lot of the new facility), you can of course see the newer stadium, but blurry out of focus is a “mini” old Mile High Stadium replica. Don’t know if that has ever been mentioned here, but will find some pics because it’s pretty neat.

    Hi, Glenn-

    I’ve actually taken several photos of the “mini” Mile High monument. Paul, if you think they might be worth sharing, I’d be happy to pass them along.

    I remember there being a Ticker mention about the monument when it was first built about four years ago, but I don’t think there’s been anything since then. The Denver Channel story you shared in a separate post below provides a nice description of the project, but my photos are better than the ones they use (if I do say so myself).

    Also love the old school football facemask fastened to the hockey helmet in the lacrosse picture.


    We pretty much did the same thing for my Dad’s 90th Birthday this past Monday (both Mom and Dad have made it to 90!). I have a screen shot of the Zoom conference we did. We had nine of us on the call, so it sort of looked like the Brady Bunch…

    Happy Birthday to your Mom. Happy Easter. Happy Passover.


    Love the story about you connecting with your mom over video conferencing for her birthday, Paul! The look on her face is priceless! I’m looking forward to a photo of the two of you together in person for her birthday next year!

    Haha, saw those vent holes and it reminded me of a guy I was fit-testing a N95 respirator and he had drilled a hole in it so he could smoke without taking it off.
    My wife has been sewing masks, originally for friends and family, and now for healthcare workers. A good idea is to make some to go over the N95 respirators, so the healthcare workers can get a longer life out of them. Stay safe everyone!

    The fact that the Chargers are using a Spongebob clip to promote the reveal of their new uniforms does not give me a warm and fuzzy feeling. This could be bad. Very bad.

    Of COURSE Wafflebored made a Flying V mask! Though, shouldn’t the part above the red/orange V also be black?

    I remember the debut of the modern third jersey program, and those crazy unis… Wild Wing and the Burger King were short-lived, while Vancouver’s gradient stripes lasted until the retirement of the Flying Skate in 1997, Pittsburgh’s gradients became the road uni until the Vegas Gold Skating Penguin succeeded the Robopen in 2002, and Boston’s Pooh Bear lasted all the way to 2006.

    Speaking of the Pens, though… my white whale, my holy grail, the thing that has eluded me for decades now… is the prototype version of the gradient Robopen jersey that had the numbers and NOB matching the >a href=”″rounded, oblique captain’s letters. I swear, I remember seeing a photo or a video clip showing the angled, rounded numbers and NOB, but my Google-fu has continued to fail me on this one. I’d really like to know why they decided to go with block numbers/NOBs instead but keep the unique C/A all the way through the Vegas Gold era.

    Ok thanks. I am so out of the loop! This is what I get for living blissfully unaware.

    Honestly, I didn’t know either until that Ticker item appeared. But when I see something I don’t understand, I google it!

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