Shadow boxes have been around far longer than most professional sports leagues, but in this case, the May-December marriage is a happy one. Displaying sports jerseys—whether from a sports legend or a cute little leaguer—is a fabulous way to show them off while keeping them safe. It’s very simple to shadow box jerseys, which makes them a great gift for older children to make. Framing sports jerseys in shadow boxes also allows you to add other pieces of memorabilia, like the baseball from the winning home run or the pom-pom used at the last game of high school.
Lay your jersey out on a flat surface, with the side you want to display facing up. Smooth away any wrinkles.
Fold the jersey the way you want it displayed. If it has sleeves, will they be hidden? Or, do you want one sleeve folded in front and the other hidden? There’s no one right way to do this part—you get to decide what looks best to you.
Measure the height and width of your jersey, and add at least 2 inches to each measurement to get the smallest size shadow box that will fit. You can certainly buy a larger shadow box, but knowing the minimum size that will display the folded jersey ensures that you don’t get one that is too small.
Use the utility knife and straight-edged ruler to cut a piece of foam core that will fit inside of the folded jersey. There is a fair amount of space in a shadow box. If you don’t secure the shape of the jersey to foam core, it will just crumple up the minute you hang it.
Slip the piece of foam core inside of the jersey. Pull the front of the jersey taut, and arrange the sleeves, if it has any.
Use T-pins to hold the jersey in place, and then flip it over so that it is face down.
Secure the loose fabric with T-pins or double-sided mounting tape. The more secure the back of the jersey is, the less mounting tape you will need to use on the front. Secure the neckline and shoulders especially well, or the weight of the jersey will eventually make it sag.
Remove the back of the shadow box. Some just have metal tabs you can swivel aside, while others will require a screwdriver.
Take out the mounting board, if the shadow box came with one. Place long strips of double-sided mounting tape on the mounting board or on your matt, if you purchased one. Peel the paper off the front of the mounting tape to expose the adhesive.
Lay the mounting board or matt on top of jersey, being careful to keep the jersey centred. Press the mounting board or matt down onto the jersey so the tape strips can stick to it.
Flip the jersey over carefully, and replace the T-pins with small pieces of double-sided mounting tape, hidden inside of the jersey. Keep the tape as close to the seams as possible to hide it. Pay special attention to the neckline to keep the jersey from sagging over time.
Place the mounted jersey face down in the open shadow box, and replace the back.
Purchase autographed sports jerseys from reputable dealers only.
Never display a personal sports jersey without washing it first. It doesn’t matter how lucky it was; it needs to be clean.