How to Frame a Football Jersey in a Box Frame

I had to replace the glass in a broken picture frame for a Brisbane Broncos Jersey from the early days when Paul Morgan was manager and Wally Lewis was the Captain. It was a team member’s premiership jersey. It was rare jersey, not just a mass produced give-away but an authentic fully signed jersey, stains and all, that was worn by one of the players.

When I got the jersey out of the frame it was very apparent that it had been damaged by both the light and the acidity from the matting. Some acid-free matboards are only a bleached cardboard with a residual buffer of calcium carbonate. True conservation mat boards are either 100% cotton rag boards or alpha-cellulose boards. In this case the matting was neither bleached nor archival. It was just a plain old paper mat, but Australia was a little behind the rest of the world when it came to picture framing in the early 90’s.

There were also rust marks where the Jersey had been pinned with dress-makers pins to the backing.

Another warning.

Use only stainless steel pins or a compatible thread to stitch the jersey to the backing material. A simple rule with sewing jerseys or any other needleworks or fabrics is when mounting them for framing use thread made from the same type of fabric as the collectible. It is always wise to use a thread that is weaker than the fabric you are framing. If the frame were to fall off the wall or get a sudden jolt it is better that the mounting thread gives way than the fabric is ripped.

Signed Football jerseys have been framed for many years using a variety of shadowbox frames and other box frames combined with mat borders and spacers to keep the fabric from touching the glass.

The purpose of the box frame is to easily enclose the full thickness of the jersey whilst spacing it from the glazing. Spacing the jersey is important when it comes to preserving the signatures and fabric.

I recommend you use acid-free archival matting and mounting boards when framing your jersey. When you use the best framing materials you get the best protection over the long term. This long-term solution gives you the best value over the life of the display.

Tru-Vue Conservation Glass or Museum glass adds extra peace of mind if the football jersey is a collectible piece. These specialist picture frame glasses protect the fabric and the signatures from fading due to exposure to light. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because the jersey is displayed out of direct sunlight that it is safe. White walls reflect a large amount of UV light and fluorescent lamps give out harmful UV rays also.

Trained picture framers have methods that are designed to protect football jerseys from deteriorating. They use conservation framing methods that are reversible. When these methods are coupled with UV filtering glass the longevity of the signatures and the colours of the fabric can be extended.

Designing you a great picture frame to match your team colours that incorporates photographs and engraved plaques is a skill. An experienced memorabilia framer will always show you examples of other works they have completed. You should check all your spelling and dates with the framer before you have your plaques engraved. A simple plaque engraved either in gold or silver with black text is the most legible. The plaque just finishes off the design nicely and also informs the viewer of the provenance of the jersey helping with resale value in the future.

Not all picture frames or picture framers are created equal so be sure to check how your picture framer frames jerseys or if you are going to attempt to frame the jersey yourself please investigate the best methods to use.

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