Even though I’m primarily a knitter these days, back when I was in middle and high school I also used to sew and quilt. I can’t remember exactly how long ago it was that I took sewing lessons, first at a local fabric store, and then at a local sewing machine shop, but way back then I purchased a refurbished, basic-model Bernina machine, and I’ve been using it on and off (mostly off–it was too heavy to go to college) for at least 10 years, and probably even longer. I recently brought the machine to New York with me, and although I haven’t gotten a ton of use out of it, it’s definitely been nice to have around, and I keep coming up with projects that I want to do, someday (like bedroom curtains).
For many reasons, Lou Gehrig is one of my favorite Yankees of all time, and definitely my favorite deceased Yankee, and I wanted to be able to express my fandom with a #4 jersey. Unfortunately for me, I don’t seem to be in the hall-of-fame jersey demographic. Even the “replica” jerseys with a name and number on them (the Yankees only wear numbers) were definitely targeted towards a crowd that was a bit more strapping and barrel-chested than I happen to be. The smallest available size seemed to be a 40″ chest, which was pretty discouraging. However, with a little help from my trusty old sewing machine, I got a Lou Gehrig jersey that would actually fit me, and saved a lot of money in the process.
It was quite simple. Modell’s was having a sale on team jerseys last month, so I went in and tried several on and figured out that a child’s large was big enough to button up, but not so big that I was swimming in it, or that it came down almost to my knees. Then on a tip from a friend, I found a seller on eBay who had player “number kits”, which were basically twill numbers with an iron-backing. I purchased a Carl Pavano (45) kit, and marveled on how much less than the sum of his number’s parts (Gehrig’s #4 and DiMaggio’s #5) he ended up being for the Yankees. Then I set to ironing on my number. I may have been too timid with the heat and pressure for fear of burning the polyester doubleknit, but the iron-on backing was definitely not going to hold up to wearing, let alone washing. Reinforcing it with zig-zag stitching was a little harrowing, because my work was, by nature, so visible, but with the exception of a few rough patches–one when I was getting started and a second when I started sewing crooked, I think I did an OK job.