I think you’ll like this story. I know I do.
Patsy Elmer, the owner of Big Time Jerseys in Phoenix, is my mentor and friend. I kid her that she has REALLY gone “big time” these days, now that her business has grown to allow her to claim to be the on-field (on-ice, on-court) stitcher for the Phoenix Suns, the Arizona Cardinals, the San Jose Sharks, Arizona Rattlers, WNBA Mercury and the Tucson Sugar Skulls; just to name a few.
We have been partners in crime for many years now, and I’ll freely admit with a real sense of pride that she taught me everything I know about cutting and stitching team jerseys. You will not find a person more dedicated to quality in this business than Patsy.
That’s why I want to share this story with you. During these troubled times, with her workshop off-limits to her staff, her stitchers constrained to work from home, and sports games not being played, Patsy has been keeping very busy making fabric masks to donate to local hospitals.
When they learned what she was doing, the Suns wanted to help and suggested that she make masks out of Suns jerseys the team no longer needed — jerseys that she had previously sewn for the team in her shop.
When I heard this I laughed and told her that I could only imagine that in thirty years people will be wringing their hands that she cut them up. There will be stories written on the SportsLogos.Net of 2050 interviewing her as a very elderly lady and she would explain how they weren’t worth anything to anybody, back then.
Patsy replied: “I know— do you know they gave me actual GAME jerseys to cut up. Since the team switched to a Nike as a supplier, they had no use for the old Adidas jerseys. But, as I laid the game jersey on my table, I would turn it this way and then that way, and then fold it here, and fold it there and I just couldn’t find the best way to start the cutting. Once I did, then I put the scissors to it and… I just couldn’t do it! Emotionally, It felt like I was going to start cutting off my arm. I couldn’t cut it up! The Suns game jerseys have a place in my heart that I just couldn’t do it.”
“So I went back to the bin to see what other jerseys were in there and that’s when I saw the Summer League jerseys. Those don’t have a place in my heart like the game jerseys. I didn’t have a problem cutting those and besides the fabric is dye sublimated so I could easily include the front logo on the mask. Then, that made me think of the old practice jerseys I have in a box in my storage. I got them out, washed and dried them and I started cutting those up too. I only get 6-7 masks per jersey. Cutting up a jersey takes more time because the seams, tagging and trim are in my way. That sounds funny to say but it’s quicker to cut flat yardage of fabric because I can fold the fabric so I have six stacked layers and use very sharp scissors.”
“That’s going to be my story when I’m in my rocking chair telling my great-grandkids about my Suns jerseys and the Corona Pandemic of 2020.”
She sent me these photos of a Suns practice jersey laid out to be harvested for “the cause”. I thought you would all enjoy seeing it.
Both Patsy and I are as eager as all of you for sports to begin again, but in the meantime, we are both sewing masks in our shops to try to help.
All photos in this post courtesy Patsy Elmer via Bill Henderson
Best known as the author of the industry research reference, “The Game Worn Guide to MLB Jerseys”, Bill has broadened his mission into the authentication and proper restoration of game jersey with “The Dream Shop”. Bill’s research volumes are available at gamewornguides.com and you can follow his projects on his Facebook page at facebook.com/gamewornguides