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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

DIY Derby: Uniforms

Some of my best experiences and fondest memories of roller derby were of a very special tradition that my old team The VooDoo Dolls had established: The Stitch and Bitch. Being a VooDoo Doll was amazing. It was the NorCal Roller Girls’ inaugural season and we took the championship atop 3 other teams, undefeated the whole way. It was bloody glorious.

The bond I had with those girls, and my teammates the subsequent season, is what has kept me going on my journey to build a powerhouse team four years later. The VooDolls had an amazing connection. I don’t know if we were so close because we did so well on the track, or if we all did so well on the track because we were so close- but I’m pretty sure it was a combination of both.

The Stitch and Bitch is a wondrous thing.  Usually occurring within a week, or sometimes as short as 24 hours of the bout in question, we would get together as a team at someone’s house to eat, stitch and bitch. The product of said stitching would always be our “boutfits” or additions to them. A “boutfit” is a term I learned while skating with the Undead Bettys and is a compilation of the words bout and outfit. Adorable! Anyways- back to the Stitch and Bitch. Because we would schedule these one to two days before our next game, strategy was a big part of the bitch fest. And at games, because we had broken bread together and shared arts and crafts tips, often times the night before, I believe we felt like a much more cohesive team on the track. We were probably more likely to give assists and reach for help, because we liked each other and it came naturally. We were able to think as a unit because we were all on the same page. To be a successful team, I mean a really truly successful team; where you all love each other and have got each other’s backs, you have to spend time together off the track. For us, the stitch and bitch was that magic component that worked for us. It may be something different for your team, but if you choose to adopt a roller derby stitch and bitch of your own, just know it started with the NCRG VooDoo Dolls.

In those days NCRG was governed much differently than it is now. Teams chose their own themes and designed their own uniforms. Many teams now are choosing to go the athletic jersey route, but I think fun uniforms are one of the more unique aspects of this sport. Some may feel it detracts from those trying to promote the sport on a national level, but I feel the only thing that cheapens the sport is bad athletes.  A lot of art was created at those stitch n bitches. Let me show you how cool derby can be.

I consider my first team the VooDoo Dolls, but I guess technically it was the NCRG AllStar team, The Hustlers. The Hustlers were disbanded after discovering there was another team already with the same name but not before we skated two games. Even though the VooDoo Dolls were my first love, this is my first roller derby uniform. 

The league committee picked it without a vote of the team members, so don’t ask me why it’s a porn costume from a trashy Halloween wesbite. However, putting our names on was our job- and hence the DIY Derby Uniform tradition was born.

Being able to add your own personal touches to your uniform really adds to the idea of building a roller derby alter ego. The more stitch and bitches you attend, the more you develop trademarks and little details that are uniquely you.

 I became a fan of using this stitched look.

I also found the addition of this inverted cross charm on my lapel offensive, yet subtle. 

Then came the infamous and undefeated VooDoo Dolls, captained by Flica Flame and Kutthroat Kandie. You may remember Flica Flame from Survivor Cook Islands, she was the one that let the chickens go.  She got casted because she was a roller girl, and wore our uniform on the show-which was pretty cool. She was a burning man stilt walker who worked at Lotus, a head shop, and designed all our uniforms herself. 

We didn’t get along really at all, but I’ll say one thing about her: She picked a helluva team.

Our colors were purple and green, and some girls had purple uniforms, some green, all with varying lengths and cuts. Each one had our team name across the front, and a VooDoo Doll heart over our left breast. There were lots of variations on this uniform including one strapped, halters, and two piece styles. Here’s mine.
My favorite feature was the slits with ties along the side.
 If you’re curious how to do this, I just cut horizontal slits about two inches apart going down the side of the dress, then took lengths of purple and green fabric and tied them through the slits I cut. It makes for a pretty cool looking effect, especially since we were supposed to be voodoo dolls.

One amazing thing the VooDolls did, which the crowd loved and shocked the shit out of our opponents, was change our uniforms entirely for our championship bout. We went ALL WHITE. I don’t know why, but it was intimidating as all get out, and super bad ass. Not necessarily the white, just the combination of being undefeated and the confidence that came with crisp new white uniforms. It was empowering, and apparently it worked.

My second team was captained by Kutthroat Kandie, a consummate coach and superb blocker. We were the Messy Bettys, with a Rosie the Riveter theme. Our uniforms were all focused around one key item: a Dickie’s work shirt. Our colors were blue and red, preferably red with white polka dots. Check out my variation on the Rosie the Riveter uniform.

There are SO many little details about this uniform I love so pardon me while I indulge a little more. Flica was into sewing and had a professional grade sewing machine, but come season 2 we were way more dependant on ourselves to create our uniforms. Since the VooDoo Dolls were undefeated and my first love, I had to pay tribute to them on my uniform. I did this by sewing a red and white polka dotted heart inside the pocket of my dickies shirt, subtly visable from the front with tiny navy x’s stitched around.

This uniform has two other hidden additions: a cherry patch that  is tucked inside the collar and a red x on the sleeve. -That was in honor of an injured teammate, whose roller girl name was in fact Red X.

This uniform started out as a plain Dickie’s work shirt and the woman I had assist me with it worked wonders. She added this cute little pocket on the back with a hanky hangin’ out, and removed the Dickie’s logo from the front of the shirt and created me a hammer loop! (Well, a rivet gun loop). It’s quite possibly the best part of the uniform.

And hell, since I’m showing you pretty much every tiny detail of every DIY derby boutfit I’ve ever made, I might as well throw in a picture of the back of the Riveter themed uniform too: just cause I like the way my name looks.

I really encourage derby girls to get into the DIY aspect of derby. It is super fun, and hey- we’re women, we’re crafty. If your team wears specific shirts or jerseys do it up yourself with your shorts or leggings, or god knows- your helmet! (But that’s another DIY blog entirely…) Just be creative, because it’s fun and it sets you apart.

Derby Love,
Auntie Social


  1. have you considered framing your old uniforms and hanginh them up for inspiration?

  2. I have not, but I have fantasized about the sorts of things that would go in my office once I have my own personal derby dome.

  3. I <3 Auntie Social & Roller Derby!!! Dude I have the jammer star & pivot cap from the VooDooDolls championship bout still

  4. I just found this really neat and extremely pertinent blog about sports uniforms. It even features a roller girl.