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Just-in-Time Jersey

Banner Sign uses its Mimaki JV-33 in a pinch.



Sometimes, things don’t always go exactly as planned.

Banner Sign Company, a graphics supplier located in Hazel Park, Michigan, specializes in graphics for special events, interiors, architectural accents, soft signage, and banners. In late May of last year, the company received a plea for a 48-hour turnaround job. The request? To dress one of Detroit’s most recognizable landmarks, the Spirit of Detroit statue, in a Detroit Red Wings jersey for Game One of the NHL finals.

The company previously produced a similar jersey for the statue for Super Bowl XL, so the staff had confidence that creating a hockey jersey would be no problem. “The amount of graphic that was added to the original was considerable—but, as we would learn, not considerable enough,” says Nicole Piach, Banner Sign co-owner.

Banner Sign staff took the original Super Bowl design and modified it to look like a Red Wings jersey. The file was about to be sent to the company’s 63-inch Mimaki DS-1600 dye-sub printer when it was found that the machine was not available. With no time for error, the company then decided to try to find fabric for its 63-inch Mimaki JV33 inkjet printer.

“We were able to find a small test roll of our Aurora 8-ounce, vinyl-coated polyester. Our Mimaki inks printed fine, but the material was too heavy for the application,” Piach relates. “Next, we had a lighter-weight Aurora 4-ounce, vinyl-coated woven polyester overnighted. Again, the ink printed fine, but the material wasn’t pliable like dye-sub fabric.” They settled on the woven polyester.

Finishing of the jersey was completed using a Pfaff Commercial Series 135 sewing machine. All 12 panels were sewn together face to face, then top stitched for aesthetics and reinforcement. Velcro was used in two spots—one on top of the statue’s left arm, due to the metal obstruction, and one on the bottom of his right arm all the way down his side. All openings, neck, arms, and bottom of the jersey were reinforced with webbing. To help with installation, the staff sewed leader ropes at different spots so they could throw them over the statue to help pull the jersey in place. Installation was completed by a three-man crew using a 50-foot boom truck.


The statue measures 25 feet from wrist to wrist and 12 feet from neck to waist. Banner Sign printed 12 total panels to complete the project, taking a full 7 hours to print and an additional 11 hours to cut and sew. The company’s staff finished at 1 am the day of installation.

“We arrived at the statue at 9 am to find three camera crews and a handful of photographers waiting to see the ‘donning of the jersey,’” Piach says. “Unfortunately, the material acted more like a vinyl than a fabric, but the client was pleased that it had the jersey in time for Game 1.

“Later in the week, the Mimaki dye-sub printer was available again,” Piach adds, “so I decided to revisit the jersey design. We used the DS-1600 to direct print the design onto Pacific Coast Fabrics’ Poly Taffeta, replacing the vinyl-coated jersey with the fabric jersey in time for Game 5 of the NHL finals. I was satisfied with the results and happy to say that the spare jersey was donated to help raise restoration funds for the Spirit of Detroit landmark statue.”




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