[Editor’s Note: Paul is on his annual August break from site (although he’s still writing his weekly Bulletin column and may pop up here on the blog occasionally). Deputy editor Phil Hecken is in charge from now through the end of the month.]
Hello Uni Watchers, and a pleasant good morning to you all!
Yesterday was another very quiet day, uni news-wise (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), but I do wish sometimes teams would space out their new uni unveils!
I have another fun one for you guys and gals this morning: I’m joined by one of my favorite readers once again, Chris Diamond, who I’ve worked with on several articles previously; I’m sure you’re all familiar with his helmet maps, and more recently, his “What if?” think pieces. But I didn’t know until recently that Chris has yet another talent — DIY! He’s here today to talk about how he goes about…
by Chris Diamond
Hi everyone, as well as my Helmet Maps and What-If stuff, I also do more hands-on Uni-related projects. In particular using a computer controlled cutter, heat press and heat transfer vinyl (HTV) to create t-shirts and custom football jerseys or soccer shirts. One particular one I did was turning a Nike Limited Raiders road jersey into a Steelers one and I took photos during the process so here is a brief how-to for anyone else obsessed enough to try it themselves!
So first of all, why did I do it? Surely you can buy a Steelers Road jersey? Well yes you can, but I wanted the road equivalent of this jersey — Nike Limited Women’s Steelers Jersey. I had already done a custom job on one of these ones to make a Steelers Home jersey with #22 (this was years before Najee Harris signed) and there wasn’t anything in the same template for road. In fact now it seems you can’t even get the home Limited jersey! The only one you can get (on NFLShop anyway) is in the Nike Elite style. What’s the difference? Well the Elite collar isn’t in the Vapor style and the numbers aren’t tackle twill. So my only option was to convert another jersey in the same template, but it had to be one where I could remove all the team graphics. My only possibility was a #15 Crabtree Raiders jersey — which apart from the twill numbers is completely blank — that I found on eBay.
The first thing I needed to do was remove the numbers, nameplate and letters. Although these are twill and have sewn edges, experience with the #84 Brown Steelers home jersey told me they would likely also be glued on and this was the case. So after unpicking the stitching, careful heating with an iron allowed me to pull them off. But then there was a nasty sticky residue left which I used Goo-Gone to remove followed by a thorough machine wash.
This left me with a nice blank canvas to work with. First of all I started on the numbers. I already had the correct #22 template in the computer from doing the home jersey so all I needed to do was cut them (see below for how I did this) from iron-on tackle-twill and then press them on and sew the edges.
Now I needed to create the sleeve stripes. These are more or less the same design on home and road so I scanned the home jersey sleeve and imported the image into my vector graphics software Xara. Then I used Xara to create vector graphics for the stripes – black and (athletic) gold. This is then exported as an SVG file and imported into Cricut Design Space which is used to control my Cricut Maker cutter. A bit of editing and I got it to cut the stripes.
For some jerseys I have been able to press the stripes on without surgery, but the design of the Nike jersey means I had to unpick the sleeves first. One unpicked I laid each flat then pressed on the black stripes, followed by the gold on top using my Cricut EasyPress. I used a similar method to above to create the new letters for the nameplate and then all that remained was to machine sew the sleeve seams closed!.
Finally I found a Steelers embroidered logo badge on eBay and again used my sewing machine to edge it and attach it to the front. And Hey Presto I had myself a Nike Limited Steelers Road jersey! I was really pleased how it came out, although I hope the Steelers don’t change their uniforms any time soon so that I need to do something like it again!
This has actually been the only regular sports jersey that I have done. All the rest have been retro pieces (original USFL), soccer faux-backs or t-shirts for my favourite bands.
Thanks for reading and good luck to anyone who tries this!
Readers? What say you?
But turning a Raiders jersey into a Steelers jersey hurts my soul.
Same, feels icky. What would convert such a beauty to that??! Having said that it came out great, good job!
As a youngster, I believed the Raiders (and any team Conrad Dobler played for) were the Bad Guys, and the Steelers led the charge for the Good Guys. As a grownup, I came to believe every team was the Raiders… just in different colors and with different names.
Still, the thought of turning a Raiders jersey into a Steelers one warms my heart. And it’s a great DIY job as well!
I *really* love your USFL jerseys! I’d wear those.
Thanks Jim, I thought you might like the USFL ones :) My favourite is the Boston Breakers T-Shirt. I really wish the USFL2 team were Boston rather than NOLA.
I think it’s an improvement. Go Steelers!
Theoretically, a Raiders white jersey could be turned into any other team, given the lack of sleeve stripes or contrasting collar detail.
This is amazing work. I wish I had this talent.
Thanks MJ! Yes you’re right it could have been any team with a plain jersey. Something like the Titans or Commanders that have different colour panels or sleeves would be a lot trickier though!
True – but who’s getting a Commies jersey? (I kid… a little.)
Where do you get your iron on tackle twill? I can’t find any decent material anywhere.
I’m planning to make a jersey for my fantasy football team.
PS, glad to see other people using their Cricut for the same stuff I do. lol
Hi Scott, I got it from a company called Custom Sport Canada on eBay, but they don’t seem to be selling anything now. I do have a swatch book of colours at home but can’t remember the manufacturer – I wll check when I get back.
Very impressive, but also the other jerseys: The France and Forest ones are really impressive too.
Thanks Ingmar! That Forest shirt crest is actually embroidered over a card template rather than HTV. Forest did have Adidas as a kit maker in the 80s when I was a kid and from 2013-2018. Since 2018 I’ve made my own Adidas versions As I’m sure you know the French shirt is a faux-back based on the 1984-86 design.
Great Job! One note on the twill though. Pay attention to the direction of the grain on it. In your photo I can see the grain is running side to side, but the standard direction is slightly diagonal vertically. It just effects the way light reflects on it. Twill tends to be more reflective to light when it is side to side. But as long as the numbers all have the same direction and it matches it will look fine to the eye.
FYI – Check out twillusa.com too
Thanks Joe! Yes I thought someone might notice that. I didn’t have sufficient twill to do the numbers with diagonal grain! I’ll check out that website as my usual source seems to have gone.
Hey Chris, first of all, incredible job, particularly with the sleeve stripes. Secondly, where’d you find that Steelers patch on eBay? Is it the same size as the patches that get put on the men’s jerseys? I’ve been looking for an embroidered patch for a couple of my jerseys for ages; they’re from the Reebok days so they’re just plastic circles with the logo printed on them, and the color is starting to fade. Would love to get an official-looking one put on them and have the colors stay true.
Hi Bud, I got it on eBay, but it was just from some guy, not a pro seller. I remember it was incredibly hard to find a decent embroidered one.
I am in constant awe of the do-it-yourselfers I encounter on Uni Watch. However, my closets are already overstuffed so the fruits of such projects would ultimately end up in a storage facility.
Thanks Walter, tell me about it!! My problem is once I do one USFL t-shirt I want to do them all.
Any chance you could whip up a Mash between the Pistons Teal and Red Retro (99-02)
My thoughts were inspired by the Raptors Purple to Black. (T-Mac and Carter good years)
Love the DIY content.
Whoa, a bootleg Kittie shirt! What a throwback! A lot of metalheads are big DIYers, so I love seeing that on this blog. Did you screenprint that and the Chvrches shirts yourself?
Hi Colin, yes I did both of those using HTV and the same sort of method as with the jersey. That’s the cool thing about this technique, you get to make exactly the t-shirts and jerseys you want.
What a waste of a classic jersey ….. ;-)
First of all, amazing job. I wish I had even a fraction of that kind of talent and skill.
With everything else that you removed and deconstructed, why put the Owens nameplate OVER the Crabtree name?
What you can see is the residue of the original letters that I couldn’t remove from the nameplate. I kind of like it as it is a momento of the original jersey and the process of creation.
Wow! That’s just looks like a helluva lotta work! I love to turn old, used football helmets into vintage NFL helmets, but nothing like this. Nice work!