For all photos, click to enlarge
Nearly eight years ago, I ran a post about by a DIYer who’d made some really fun hockey-themed neckties. The author didn’t want me to use his name, so the byline simply read, “By Anonymous.”
That was the beginning of Uni Watch’s association with the amazing creative mind who soon became known as Wafflebored. In the time since then, Wafflebored has shared countless DIY projects with us (including the one he’s wearing in the photo above). He’s also become a good friend.
Wafflebored recently informed me that he’s going to stop making DIY jerseys, which is a loss for all of us. I asked if he might like to prepare a sort of “greatest hits” piece, and he readily agreed. Here it is.
A Wafflebored Career Retrospective
I recently mentioned to Paul that the Wafflebored DIY jersey making project had come to an end. It has been by far the most enjoyable creative project I have ever done, but for various reasons it felt like it was time to bring it to an end. Despite experimenting with high-spec masks, I find that I’m sensitive to the fibers released while sewing, which affects my breathing. Also, sewing is hard work and I don’t find it relaxing or fun anymore, so it seemed like the project had run its course. Paul suggested we do a retrospective on the various jerseys I made. I don’t have an exact count of how many I made over the years, but it was quite a lot — probably 30 or more. Here are my thoughts on some of them.
1. The Best Jersey I Ever Made
If I had to pick one design that I feel was my best, it would the Orange County jersey I made for Chuck Eldridge. This one combined everything I like about DIY jerseys in one place. First, Chuck is a goalie, so right away that makes it special. But Chuck is also a very big goalie, so we made the jersey really big to fit over his gear. That’s what I love about DIYing — you can make structural changes to the jersey itself and create something truly unique, which isn’t possible with off-the-rack jerseys.
The other thing that makes this jersey special is the personal meaning behind the designs (you can get the full backstory here). Again, the opportunity to make something original and personal is, to me, the whole point of making these one-of-a-kind designs.
I should also mention Chuck was an absolute pleasure to work with. He totally understands what makes handmade items unique. In the world of DIY jerseys, he definitely Gets It™.
2. Creating Historical Replicas
I absolutely love hockey history, and there is so much that isn’t known about the game and teams that existed in the past. One regret I have is that I didn’t make more replica jerseys based on historical photographs and records from lesser-known teams. Fortunately, hockey researcher Chris Mizzoni prompted me to make this beautiful Norvans jersey. This one has personal significance for me. I grew up in North Vancouver but had no idea there was a team based there in the early 1940s until I learned about it from Chris’s research. The team was based in the shipyards, although they played at the Forum in Vancouver, as there was no rink in North Vancouver at the time. My father and uncle both ran businesses one block from the shipyards, which adds to the personal significance.
Another favorite project was this Edmonton Flyers jersey from the early ’60s:
This was one of the first jerseys I made where I really felt like my build quality was approaching a professional level. But the main appeal was that this was the first sports jersey I did that featured really nice mid-century modern design. I had been wondering why mid-century sports uniforms didn’t reflect some of the major design movements that impacted so many other aspects of contemporary life, so I was very pleased to come across this jersey and made this replica.
3. Art Jerseys
I loved making functional sports jerseys out of typical polyester materials like mesh, but ultimately I really wanted to make unusual art jerseys that used non-sports fabrics in interesting ways. Unfortunately, I never really pursued that direction to its full potential, but this Canucks “Flying V” design in the Art Deco style came close. I liked the challenge of combining these two designs into something fun. I used a couple of non-sports fabrics, although the body and cresting are mesh and twill. You can read more about this project here.
Speaking of non-traditional hockey jersey fabrics, I actually got my start making jerseys by using heavy melton wool fabric, like this Fin Whales jersey:
I love old flannel baseball jerseys, and wanted to make fictional hockey jerseys in a similar style.
I haven’t come across anyone making art jerseys from non-sports fabrics, but if someone does wind up doing this I will be their biggest fan.
4. Jerseys with Built-In Padding
I’m a huge fan of sports jerseys that incorporate padding into the jersey itself, like soccer goalkeeper jerseys with padded elbows or early wool football jerseys where the players added leather padding. This wool hockey jersey, featuring canvas sleeves with rigid inserts similar to what you would have seen on early football pants, was one of several early experiments I tried with padding.
5. Retro Jerseys
As mentioned above, I love retro jerseys based on 1950s design. This Meteors jersey is one of my best, as I made it quite recently so it features the best build quality I was able to develop over the years. I gave up making baseball jerseys long ago, but I was happy to incorporate pinstriped baseball fabric (which I love) into a hockey jersey in a way that made sense to me. I also love heavyweight jerseys, and this one is made of the super-thick solid polyester double-knit, which gives it a lot of weight and feels like an older pro jersey. If I had to keep only one jersey from all of the ones I made, this would probably be it.
6. Pro Team Mash-Up Jerseys
I have mixed feelings about these jerseys, because I generally think DIY jerseys shouldn’t owe anything to designs from the major sports leagues — there’s just so much opportunity to do things that don’t already exist. But there’s also a certain appeal to this type of jersey, and they’re certainly crowd-pleasers. I love everything to do with every era of the Seals, and this yellow/teal deisgn really looks great. The hardest part of making this jersey was finding the turquoise lace.
In a similar vein, this hybrid Vancouver Blazers/Canucks “Flying V” was fun, as it allowed me to mix two 1970s Vancouver team designs together:
I love orange and yellow – such a great combination. The biggest significance for me was finally being able to do the V design — it’s very challenging to get this right, as angles are much harder to sew than straight lines, and I had to do a ton of trial and error in order to get it right.
Still, if I could do it over again, I would probably put the energy I invested in these types of jerseys into creating fun fictional designs or other unusual stuff. Plus, there are a number of companies now making hybrid/mashup jerseys for sale online, so I don’t think the DIYer is needed for this type of approach anymore.
7. Uni Watch Jerseys
I had the privilege of making several Uni Watch jerseys over the years, most of which were used for various contests and giveaways. This one was my favorite, featuring a fantastic green/yellow striped rib knit fabric and another mid-century retro crest.
8. Branches Jersey
And finally, the Branches jersey. What an amazing project! First came the story of the branch across the street from Paul’s place. Then came Ron Ruelle’s idea for a team called the Brooklyn Branches, which led to Paul asking if I’d like to make a physical version of the jersey. This was a super-fun collaborative effort, and I had a blast making the wooden buttons from a piece of the actual branch, which Paul sent to me. My only regret is my skills weren’t good enough to make the button-front jersey from scratch, so we had to use a pre-made blank jersey. Additional photos and info here.
So those are some of my most notable jerseys. Here are some final thoughts:
• DIY jersey-making is such a great hobby, I’m surprised more people aren’t doing it! Maybe they are and we just haven’t found them yet. In any case, I really recommend it, and I hope we come across more people doing it. If you’re thinking about trying it, go for it!
• Finding sports fabrics at retail isn’t easy. Most fabric stores don’t stock much of them, preferring to focus on high-demand categories like quilting, interior decor, and bridal. So over the years I acquired a lot of really cool old-stock fabrics that are hard to find in small quantities. I tended to hoard this stuff instead of using it, which I now regret, but I will find a good home for it.
• Of course, over the years I have made friends with many people in the jersey community, both online and here in Vancouver. Plus I have received many positive comments and compliments from Uni Watch readers, both here on the blog and on Twitter. It has been so much fun sharing these projects with you and I just want to say thanks to everyone. I hope to be back on Uni Watch with other creative projects in the future.
• Finally, Paul needs to be recognized for his unwavering support of DIYers of all kinds. When I was starting out with small projects like my goalie-themed neckties, he was so supportive and enthusiastic — it couldn’t help but encourage me to keep going. I wasn’t sure I could make complete jerseys, but having a platform gave me the impetus and confidence to move forward, and as a result I was able to develop an extremely rewarding hobby I hadn’t considered possible. Thanks, Paul!
Paul here. I want to add a few thoughts of my own to close out this entry:
• This goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: Wafflebored is really, really Special. He has a singular aesthetic sensibility, an amazing creative mind, a lot of passion, and the chops to execute what he imagines.
• He’s also an incredibly generous soul. Over the years, he’s made jerseys for me to auction off to support the site, and he’s also donated some of his finished projects to various year-end raffles. All of these gestures have been his idea, not mine. I’m grateful for his support.
• I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Wafflebored and his wife in person. They are every bit as wonderful in person as his work and writing would lead you to expect.
• While it’s a shame that Wafflebored will no longer be making jerseys, I have no doubts that he’ll find new creative projects. I’m excited to see what they turn out to be.
Thanks for a great ride, buddy — you’re the best.
Bulletin reminder: With MLB uni ads very much in the air, my latest piece for Bulletin takes a close look at the eight neutral-site series that have included uniform advertising over the past two decades. The article also features an FAQ section about the potential new uni ad program for this season.
My premium subscribers can read the article here. If you haven’t yet subscribed, you can do that here (you’ll need a Facebook account in order to pay). If you want more info on what you’ll get for your money, you can find that here. And if the Facebook requirement is a dealbreaker, email me and I’ll keep you in the loop about developments regarding non-Facebook payment options and possible workarounds. Thanks!
For all photos, click to enlarge
Meanwhile, down in Louisiana: Foundational Uni Watch pal and membership card designer Scott M.X. Turner lives in New Orleans, where he’s been documenting the uni-related Mardi Gras goings-on. As you can see above, he spotted a reveler wearing a DIY version of Elton John’s Dodger Stadium concert costume — very cool!
Scott also photographed these folks wearing AAGPBL uniforms:
And then there was this astronaut, whose helmet and jumpsuit were doing double duty for NASA and the Saints:
I love all of this so much. Thanks for sharing, Scott!
Photo by Hugh Morton; click to enlarge
Too good for the Ticker: Lots of uni-notable stuff in this 1942 photo of a UNC/Duke game. Por ejemplo:
• UNC is wearing sleeved jerseys.
• Both teams have belted shorts.
• Interesting that the UNC players are wearing knee pads while the Duke players are not.
• Also interesting that UNC has high socks while Duke has low.
• Speaking of which: Those striped UNC socks!
• Interesting that Duke’s front and back numbers have distinct color treatments.
• Oh man, that ref! Wish we could get a better look at his jersey patch.
(Big thanks to James Gilbert for this one.)
Membership update: A new batch of designs has been added to the membership card gallery, including Jim Lutz’s card (shown at right), which is based on NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield’s paint scheme. Nice choice, Jim!
Ordering a membership card is a good way to support Uni Watch, and fun to boot. And remember, a Uni Watch membership card entitles you to a 15% discount on any of the merchandise in the Uni Watch, Uni Rock, and Naming Wrongs shops. (If you’re an existing member and would like to have the discount code, email me and I’ll hook you up.)
Indigenous Appropriation News: SB Nation’s Braves blog, formerly known as Talking Chop, has changed its name to Battery Power. The new name refers to the area around the team’s ballpark being referred to as the Battery Atlanta (from Brett Alan). … Marquette University has a new seal, which is the latest development in the school’s reckoning with the role of Native Americans in its history. Additional info here (from @dbalke).
Ukraine News: The NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans wore yellow socks last night in support of Ukraine. Additional info here (thanks to all who shared). … The Italian Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli cycling team, whose roster includes Ukrainian native Andrii Ponomar, wore replica Ukrainian national champion jerseys emblazoned with “#nowar” yesterday. … UEFA has discontinued use of the Champions League soccer ball branded with the logo of Saint Petersburg, Russia, now that the tournament final has been moved to Paris (from Kary Klismet). … The Polish basketball team Decka Pelplin got new blue and yellow uniforms to show support for Ukraine (from Rafal Niewiadomski). … EA Sports is removing all Russian teams from the FIFA 22 video game (thanks, Anthony). … Top-tier Romanian soccer club CSU Craiova has replaced its NOBs with the names of Ukrainian cities currently under attack. … The English Premier League will go with Ukraine-themed captains’ armbands this weekend (thanks, Jamie). … Also from Jamie: “Everton’s women’s team’s shirt ad is for a Russian cell phone provider, so they removed it for yesterday’s game. It was also removed from social media graphics featuring depictions of players in uniform.”
Baseball News: Tequila sunrise-style 1981 throwbacks for Arizona State (thanks to all who shared).
Hockey News: KHL team Salavat Yulaev wore No. 27 “Amirov” pregame jerseys to support teammate Rodion Amirov, who’s been diagnosed with a brain tumor (from Wade Heidt). … Someone on eBay is selling a collection of over 250 game-used hockey sticks (from @Spesh98).
NBA News: Here’s a history of Golden State’s costumed mascot, Berserker, who lasted only one season in the late 1990s (from Kary Klismet). … The Suns celebrated radio broadcaster Al McCoy’s 50th season with the team last night (from @ThatRodneyGuy).
College Hoops News: Ohio State and Nebraska men’s went black vs. red on Tuesday (from Kary Klismet). … An ESPN story about Georgetown men’s coach Patrick Ewing showed him wearing a Washington Bears “Black Fives” sweatshirt during a recent game (from Max Weintraub).
Soccer News: New shirt advertisers for Georgian club Dinamo Tbilisi and Irish club Bohemians’ women’s squad (from Ed Zelaski). … The NWSL’s NJ/NY Gotham FC have a new shirt ad. “That video uses last season’s shirts,” notes our own Jamie Rathjen. “Combined with looking at their website, that implies to me that they aren’t changing the black shirt but may change the white one.” … Also from Jamie: “The under-20 USWNT is playing in the CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship in the Dominican Republic. Midfielder Sally Menti was wearing No. 17 but was injured at the end of the first game. So for the two games after that, someone has held up a No. 17 shirt for the pregame team photos.” … The Seattle Sounders are doing a “brand evaluation” (from Rand Martin). … The rest of these are from Kary Klismet: New stadium in the works for Cagliari of Italy’s Serie A. … Brazilian side Portuguesa has new kits to mark the 50th anniversary of the team’s supporters’ group. … Buriram United of Thailand has unveiled its uniforms for the 2022 Asian Champions League.
Grab Bag: The Stewart’s ice cream chain is offering a $1 discount to kids in uniform (from Kenneth Traisman). … The Australian city of Hobart has announced plans for a new stadium in hopes of the city being awarded an Australian Football League franchise later this year (from Kary Klismet). … Here are the jersey designs for the 2022 Brier, which is the Canadian men’s curling championship tourney (from Wade Heidt). … New chrome helmets for Syracuse men’s lacrosse (from Michael Hochman). … New 100th-anniversary logo for NYC radio station WOR (from John Cerone). … Reader Ted Arnold came across the website of a Canadian artist who, among things, paints cool reproductions of classic sports trading cards.