How to Make a T-Birds Jacket

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A T-Birds jacket is an iconic piece of pop culture worn by main character Danny Zuko in the movie ‌Grease‌. With a pair of straight-leg jeans, a tight white T-shirt and slicked back hair, a DIY version of the T-Birds jacket completes an instantly recognizable costume.

Creating the jacket is fairly straightforward as long as you're able to find a black bomber-style or moto-style jacket to which you can add the white T-Birds logo. A leather jacket is the most authentic, but it's probably outside a reasonable price range for a costume, even if you find one at a thrift store. Pleather or any solid black fabric jacket will work well for this DIY costume project.

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Things You'll Need

  • Black jacket

  • Computer and printer

  • Letter-size cardstock

  • Craft knife

  • Washable glue stick

  • Painter's tape

  • White fabric paint

  • Paper plate

  • Sponge or paintbrush

  • Hair dryer (optional)

Make the T-Birds Jacket

Search online for images of the T-Birds jacket as featured in the ‌Grease‌ movie or musical. Find a clear view of the logo and print or save it for reference as you create a template.

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2. Recreate the text

Here's how to make the text for this T-Birds jacket.

  1. In any word processing or graphics program on your computer, create a new letter-size document. Type the capital letter "T" with quotation marks on either side.
  2. Select the letter and change the font to match the "T" in your reference image of the logo.
  3. It doesn't need to be an exact match, but choose a serif font, such as Times New Roman.
  4. Resize the letter so that it fills the page. If you're making a kids' costume, resize it proportionally to fit the back of a smaller jacket. Also adjust the font and size of the quotation marks to match the logo reference image.
  5. Open a new letter-size document in landscape orientation and type the word "BIRDS" in all caps.
  6. Change the text to a sans serif font that resembles your reference image, such as Comic Sans.
  7. Resize the letters so that they fill the page.

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"BIRDS" in the T-Birds logo appears to be handwritten, so you can draw the letters by hand instead of typing them for your stencil if you prefer.

3. Print the text

Print the page with "T" and the page with "BIRDS" on regular printer paper and position them on the back of the black jacket to assess the sizing. Adjust the letter sizes if needed and then print the two final designs on cardstock.

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4. Create the bird design

The T-Birds logo has the silhouette of a bird with its wings outstretched to the right of the "T" and above the word "BIRDS." Depending on your computer vs. artistic skills, you could copy the logo or a similar bird image, paste it into a graphics program, crop it and resize it to print. You could also draw the bird by hand on cardstock.

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5. Cut out the stencil

With a craft knife, carefully cut out the "T," quotation marks, letters of "BIRDS" and bird silhouette from the cardstock pages. Remember that you need to remove and discard the letters and bird (the positive shapes) leaving the surrounding cardstock (the negative shapes) intact to use as a stencil. Be sure to save the middle shapes cut out of the B, R and D letters to reposition inside the cut-out letters.

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6. Position the templates on the jacket

Smooth the jacket on a work surface so that the back is facing up and has no wrinkles. Apply a washable glue stick to the reverse side of the template around the edges of the cutouts. Press the template pieces in place on the back of the jacket and apply strips of painter's tape around the outer edges to hold them firmly in place.

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Apply the washable glue to the back sides of the shapes cut out of the B, R and D letters in "BIRDS" and press them to the jacket in the appropriate places in the middle of those letters.

Squeeze some white fabric paint onto a paper plate and dab a sponge or dip a paintbrush into the paint. Apply the paint with a brushing or pressing motion over the negative spaces of the stencil, being very careful not to shift the jacket or stencil as you work.

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Apply one thin but even layer of paint and wait for it to fully dry before applying a second and possibly third layer of paint. Aim for an opaque white logo. You can use a hair dryer to speed the drying of the paint if you wish.

When the final layer of paint is dry, remove the template from the jacket. If needed, wipe away any residual glue with a damp paper towel or wet wipe.

Complete the costume

With a T-Birds jacket ready to wear, you don't need much else to complete a full costume. Wear straight-leg blue or black jeans, optionally cuffed at the ankles, and a tight white T-shirt under the jacket.

As "greasers," the T-Birds have a signature slicked-back hairstyle that's easy to recreate, as long as your hair isn't cropped short. Distribute a generous amount of hair gel through your hair with your fingers. Next, take a wide-toothed comb and slick the front part of your hair backwards and slightly to the side. The comb lines should remain visible in your hair, so try not to touch it until the gel has dried.

Tip

A T-Birds jacket is a great costume idea for groups or families. Danny’s greaser buddies, Kenickie, Doody, Putzie and Sonny, also wear T-Birds jackets, making this a great idea for brothers or a group of boys. In the ‌Grease‌ movie, the T-Birds hang out at Rydell High with the Pink Ladies, including Rizzo and Frenchie, who also have their own matching jackets with logos. Create Pink Ladies jackets to wear with retro outfits for more ‌Grease‌ costumes for a Halloween celebration. A Danny and Sandy couples’ costume is another fun Halloween costume idea.

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