Going Sleeveless

As I’ve mentioned in a few previous blog entries, we’ve found a great source for cycling jerseys with Voler’s Partner Program.Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 10.05.45 AM It was the DrunkCyclist blog that first took us to Voler with their homage to the home country of Eddy Merckx and “the patron nation of competitive toughness,” vis-a-vis their politically incorrect modification to the Belgium National Champion’s jersey. It remains a favorite of mine and even Debbie likes the colors and chuckles that it brings when people realize what it actually says across the front and down the side panels.

Being long-time Calfee tandem and single bike owners, we were also quite happy to discover that Calfee Design chose to use Voler’s Partner Program to make jersey’s available to its customers, remembering Voler is a US-based company that actually makes its jerseys here as well. More recently we added the very colorful and fun Bakersfield, California-based Blacktop Cyclery’s Team Jersey to our closet.

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My only problem with the Partner Program is that while they offer men’s and women’s jerseys in club and racing cut as well as long sleeve styles, they don’t offer a sleeveless option. I’ve asked about sleeveless for the past two years but it’s simply not something they plan to offer. The reason this is a problem for me is Debbie doesn’t like to wear jerseys with sleeves, as they leave her with a farmer’s tan on her upper arms. So, what to do?

The solution is pretty straight forward but one I’ve put-off for a couple of years since involves butchering a perfectly good jersey by hacking off the sleeves and then finishing-off the open-ended sleeve cut-outs with bias tape.  After confirming that sleeveless was still not an option last week I decided to give jersey hacking a go.

I used an extra DrunkCyclist jersey as my beta test article and asked Debbie to pick-out a sleeveless cycling jersey whose fit she liked to use as a template for where to cut the sleeves.  After doing a preliminary cut I had Debbie try on the jersey with the sleeves hacked-off to see if the sleeve openings fell where she liked.  We adjusted them in a little more close to the collar and made some final cuts.

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For my beta test with the DrunkCyclist jersey, after hacking off the sleeves I attached the bias tape to one sleeve opening using a combination of iron-on hem tape and machine stitching and then the other without the hem tape.  I decided the hem tape really didn’t add all that much to the process as skipped that step on the other two jerseys that went under the knife.

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The bias tape seemed to be what I found on Debbie’s sleeveless club jerseys from Hincapie Sports and worked pretty well.  You attach the inside flap first, then fold it over itself to create a nice, crisp hem that hopefully secures the underlying synthetic jersey fabric’s cut edge so that it won’t fray during future washings.  It was the fraying that I thought the iron-on hem tape might help with so we’ll be keeping an eye on the jerseys to see if that becomes an issue.  If so, I’ll likely pull the bias-tape 1/2 way off and add it.

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After doing a test fitting on Debbie I decided the sleeve openings were just a bit too large and added darts vs. doing major surgery to reduce the size of the sleeve openings.  I opted to put the fold on the outside of the jersey instead of inside to eliminate the potential for chaffing so it’s not the best-looking dart I’ve ever done.  But, on the bright side, it mad the jersey sleeves fit-up quite nicely around Debbie’s arms and she was happy with the results: that’s all that matters, right?  Well, no… I have to be happy with it too and I’ll simply say that it is best described as “good enough” for a first effort and without an overlock machine.

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With the first one done I turned my attention to the newest acquisition, her Blacktop Bike Shop team jersey… mostly because I already had black thread loaded on my sewing machine!  The Blacktop modification turned out pretty well with one or two nits: nothing too many people will ever notice but that will drive me nuts.  The darts were also fairly well hidden by the darker  background of the floral print.

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My final act was the Calfee jersey.  I elected to change out my thread and use a different, color-matched bias tape to soften the sleeve openings.  The darts are very noticeable when the jersey is hanging up, but once Debbie is wearing it they don’t look nearly as obvious which is a good thing.

All of the jerseys still need to go through the wash at least once before being worn and I will put them in a dedicates bag to protect the sleeves from excess wear and tear since I opted not to use hem tape on the sleeve openings.  Fingers crossed, here’s hoping I don’t end up regretting the use of the hem tape in the future.

And, yes… Debbie said she was very happy to have some “new jerseys” to wear. She’s been a pretty good sport about wearing the short-sleeve jerseys with the sleeves rolled-up for the past couple of years, but I know she’s looking forward to having some newer jerseys that she can wear and ones that will let us match.


About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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3 Responses to Going Sleeveless

  1. Eric Chatham says:

    If you’re looking for something more mountain bikeish, Pedal Pushers makes a DC tech tee. You could try hacking the sleeves on it, too. Everyone loved it on the ACA Gulf Coast bike tour I did two weeks ago.

    • TG says:

      We’re good with the DC jerseys for off-road / trail use. Never could make the shift back to loose and baggy shorts / shirts for cycling. But, those DC colors and branding certainly do generate interesting feedback. 🙂

  2. I’ve also been looking for sleeveless. I prefer long sleeves over short sleeves because I absolutely don’t want to end up with a farmer’s tan. If I don’t find anything, I may try removing the sleeves from one of my jerseys – thanks for the inspiration!

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