In the musical “Grease” Johnny Casino is a 1950’s rock-star who comes to town to sing at the big Dance Contest.
In the costume plot in the Samuel French script (Book, Music, and Lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, 1972) he is described as wearing “Geranium pink slacks with dark pink stripes on the side, pink ruffled formal shirt, large cuff links, red bow tie, pink plaid tuxedo jacket with red satin lapels, white socks, pink and red two-tone wing tipped shoes, red cummberbund” (p. 76)
I decided early on not to go with pink–that just isn’t a color that is easily found in guy styled clothes . .but . . I did want to incorporate some of the components–ruffled shirt, tux style jacket, and a “style”.
My first major find was a grayish-silver shiny jacket at a Thrift store (I neglected to take a picture before I added the sequins).
I then found a white & silver dance dress I had purchased from a local consignment store in the Halloween clearance, and purchased a white shirt and black pants at a local church thrift store.
The silver sequin ribbon I had left over from another project. This ribbon is readily available in chain craft stores. It is super easy to sew on, looks good on-stage, and washes well.
Next came the shirt. I wanted to make a ruffle tux shirt. The skirt of the tutu is made with glitter tulle. As I have mentioned before, I try to avoid using glitter fabrics because of the shedding factor (the custodians HATE it, and some auditoriums have glitter-free clauses in their rental contracts). This particular dress had been well-loved, plus I had washed it, so the “shedding” factor was almost non-existent at this point.
First, I cut off one of the layers of the skirt. I then sewed the tulle on to the front of the shirt. I didn’t bother to run gathering threads, I just smooshed it under the needle as I went along.
I marked the center front of the shirt where the button placket went to help me make the lines for sewing the ruffle. The first time I sewed the ruffles I made the outside row narrow, but I left the inside quite wide–maybe 2-3″, (see picture with jacket). This did NOT work. There is a reason ruffles on tux shirts are fairly small. The opening between the jacket lapels really isn’t that large . .so big ruffles just disappeared. So, I just squished the ruffles down and re-sewed them to make them shorter. Another time I would cut the trim narrower to begin with. Since the ruffles were made of tulle, I did not need to do anything to the cut edge. I did heat seal the ends of the silver ribbon (I use a woodburning tool).
Next, I used the white and silver sequin fabric from the top of the dress to cover the front button placket and the collar.
I cut the collar piece the approximate size, pinned it to the original collar, sewed around the edge, and then carefully trimmed around the collar edge. The front placket was just a strip that I sewed down around the edges. I then went back and carefully re-cut the button holes.
One mistake I did make was to extend the sequins all the way down to the neck portion of the collar. This was very itchy for the cast member wearing the costume. I later went back and added a piece of ribbon to protect his neck from the sequins. Another time, I would mark where the collar fold over, and just applique the sequins up to that point.
Next, I added a row of ruffles to the cuff. Again, I just squished the tulle together as I sewed to gather it, and then heat sealed the silver ribbon.
The last thing I did was to hem the pants, and sew sequin ribbon down the sides. I did have to sew first down from the top, and then up from the bottom of the leg to get it done without opening up the pant seams.
I added a tie out of some silver mesh that I had (made a tube, sewed it shut, wrapped a center piece around it, glued it around the “tie” and a piece of elastic with small pieces of velcro on the ends for closing)
And, there you have it: Johnny Casino, in about 2 1/2-3 hours.
The jacket was about $3, the shirt $0.50, the pants $0.50, the dance dress $2, and the sequin ribbon I had (but purchased new would have been about $2-3 if I bought it when the craft store had it on sale), and maybe $1 for the silver mesh I used–so total less than $10.
Here he is in our production of “Grease” rocking the “Hand Jive”