Tutorial by Rae: Billiard Tee

E loves pool, by which I mean billiards although he also loves pools, as in the kind with water. While he’s not big enough or coordinated enough to wield even a child-sized pool cue yet, he’s definitely the perfect size to stand on a chair next to the pool table (until very recently we just let him sit on top of the table) and roll the balls around. If that seems like it might be a wee bit boring, you obviously have not seen my child do this. There’s a fair amount of jumping up and down and giggling involved.

When I saw a t-shirt in a mini-Boden catalog about a year ago that had billiard balls and the caption “Pool Pro,” I knew a project like this had to go on My List. But without the cheesy words. Here’s my take:

This tutorial is the intellectual property of Rae Hoekstra. You are more than welcome to use the image above (giving clear and proper photo credit of course), but please do not copy images or text from the tutorial below. Thanks!

Materials needed:
8″ square scrap of white or off-white jersey (or some other smooth knit like interlock, avoid ribbed knits)
double-sided fusible web or interfacing (heat n’ bond or steam a seam 2 both work fine)
freezer paper
fabric marking pen
fabric paints in black, red, green, purple, blue, orange, and yellow
small paint brush (I use the kind that come with kids watercolors)
sewing machine (optional; see note on Step 9)

Step 1: Find/make a t-shirt. This one is the Tee for Two pattern by Figgy’s, made with turquoise bamboo jersey. Just in case you wanted to know how to get that serged detail along the seams: after sewing each seam I serged the raw edges before tacking them down. 
Now plan out what pool balls you want on the shirt. I searched for “billiard ball images” and then picked  numbers that Elliot likes (3 and 4) and colors he likes (blue and red), and two others so that I would have three solid and three striped balls.
[just click on any images to enlarge them]

Step 2: 
(left) Trace ball outlines onto your white/off-white jersey with marking pen. These circles are 2 1/8″ across. You’ll need at least six circles to make the design shown above but I recommend tracing a couple extra. I also recommend tracing them at least a half inch apart (as you can plainly see I did not do this, but it would have been easier)

(right) I used the cap of my Magic Sizing spray starch, but any 2″ circular shape/cup/cap will do. If you’re making this for a bigger/smaller boy, you may want to make bigger/smaller circles.

Step 3:
(left) Heat n’ bond lite double sided fusible web, the way it looks when purchased by the yard

(right) Cut out a piece of the double-sided fusible web the exact same size as your white jersey. Iron the bumpy side of the fusible web to the back side of the jersey.

Step 4:

(left) Trace smaller circles onto your freezer paper for the inside circles on the pool balls. The reason we’re drawing them on freezer paper is because the shiny side of freezer paper can be ironed on to fabric. These circles are 3/4″ across, so tracing around a nickel or the end of a smaller-sized spool (as shown) will give you the desired size. They also sell neon circle stickers at office supply stores that I bet would work nicely here too, but they’re a little harder to find. Again, you’ll need at least six, but do a few extra because there will always be one or two that don’t turn out quite right.

(right) Cut out the circles from the freezer paper and iron them, shiny side down, onto the white jersey inside of the ball outlines. They don’t need to be centered unless you’re particular like that.

Step 5:
(left) Take masking tape and place it carefully across three of the ball outlines, clearing the center stickers by about an 1/8″ of an inch on either side. My circles were so close that I could use one piece of tape for two balls at a time, but if you draw yours farther apart you’ll probably need two pieces of tape for each ball.

(right) Closeup of the masking tape on one of the balls. Now we’re ready to paint!

Step 6:
(left) Fill in the ball outlines with paint, starting with the striped balls. Using a watercolor paintbrush, lightly brush the paint until it solidly fills the entire outline. The masking tape will produce a nice stripe and the little freezer-paper circle will make a hole where the number will go.

(right) Repeat for the next striped ball; I mixed orange and yellow paint to get a schoolbus yellow. Notice that I’m not too concerned about staying in the lines; you’ll cut your ball out later so you’ll want to make sure you go at least as far as the outline, but it’s OK to go over a bit.

(left) The next stripe was orange, and then, because I had put my outlines so close together, I had to peel up the masking tape from the green ball to fill in the solid red ball. Oops!

(right) Filling in the purple and black ball. Note: I mixed this grey-purple shade from black and purple and then ended up not liking it very much, so I used just straight purple paint for the purple ball you see in the final pictures. This grey-purple ball got used to test the stitching later, but it was good that I had drawn an extra outline!

Step 7:
(left) Let your paint dry completely and then peel off the freezer paper circles and masking tape.

(right) Write the numbers in the center of the balls very, very carefully using black paint or a Sharpie. PRACTICE FIRST on a scrap of jersey!!!

Step 8:
(left) Cut out the balls and peel off the paper backing from the fusible web. Position the balls in desired location on tee.

(right) Iron them down. Use a piece of scrap fabric between the iron and the fabric paint so that the fabric paint won’t melt and stick to your iron. Ack! That would not be cool.

Note: This next sewing step is optional because honestly don’t these look pretty fab just as they are? The fusible web should hold these on during washings so if you’re a non-sewist, stopping here could be a good option. Not having tried that, however, I’d recommend sewing them on:

Step 9:
(above) Sew around the outside edges of each ball, about 1/8″ from the edge. You don’t need to pin, the fusible web will hold them in place. Easy!

(below) Remember that grey-purple ball? I ironed it on to a test scrap of knit and then used it to practice my stitching. It never hurts to do a test run.

Ta-Da! Billiard Tee!

If you make a Billiard Tee, please add it to the Rae Made Me Do It pool or the Celebrate the Boy pool or both!

Happening on MADE: Have you seen Xoelle’s post yesterday on styling your little guy? I love these wardrobe combinations!

The Fabricworm Giveaway closes tonight! Click here to win 3 yards of fantastic organic fabric! 

23 thoughts on “Tutorial by Rae: Billiard Tee

  1. This is awesome, Rae! I need to add this to that loooong list of things to make… but this one is one that I at least have practice with!

  2. That is amazing. I just moved my oldest son up a step in clothes and noticed he is a little low on shirts. This goes on the to-do list for the weekend.

    I have a quick question about the serging details. I also do the same thing with this pattern (my sons are the one in the red and blue skeleton shirts in the Patterns by Figgy flikr). How do you get the neckband to still fit over his head. The Valentine's day shirts I made them would not fit over either my 5 or 2 year old head. Any hints? Thanks!


  3. Steph: Yes! You're right, serging the neckband can make it tighter. So what I do is I stretch out the knit as it goes through the serger and then leave a superlong tail on the thread. Then I stretch the neckband some more to get the serging as stretched out as possible…this will work some of the thread tail back into the stitching…I'm not sure that makes sense but if you pinch the stitching and pull along the neckband, you can kind of stretch the stitching out as much as possible before putting it onto the shirt.

    Hope that helps!

  4. Rae: No, that makes perfect sense and I will do that the next time I make them a shirt. I was so bummed about the Vday shirts. I got them forced over their heads for the day, but my 5 year told me never again.

    Thanks so much for the tip!

  5. Love this idea!! It's so simple and easy to do!! This would be great for those shirts that have a little hole in it that is other wise still good!

  6. I have scrap white knit and fabric paint in every color. I'm thinking this project is calling my name. It is darling, Rhea. Thx for sharing.

  7. Absolutely love this one! And adaptable for older boys. If it's hard to find boy projects on the web, it's even harder to find older boy projects! I definitely need to get that tee pattern too, especially now that it's come out in sizes 8-14.

  8. I don't think the Cenz has any idea what a pool ball is despite his grandparent owning one and his father beating the pants of anyone dumb enough to challenge him at a pub, but I don't care, still making this!!!

    Although appliquéing circles is NEVER FUN RAE! I appliance eyeballs (oh carp here I go again with the eyeballs) onto a bag for my sister once nod YIKES. not the best time I've had sewing that's for damn sure!

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