I have to admit that I have an awesome boyfriend, I refer to him often as the Best Boyfriend Ever or the BBE. (You can read about my Adventures in Dating on another blog that I have). He is such a good sport through all my sewing projects and yes he modeled one of the costumes too. His father’s birthday was coming up and he wanted to go to a local event called the Island Rum Festival here in Daytona Beach, Florida. Now Florida is known for having Pirates invasion about 450 years ago, don’t quote me St. Augustine hosts an event right after Halloween called the Buccaneer Bash – more about that later. Dad mentioned he wanted to go in costume as a Pirate, BBE mentions it and my mind gets going. He knows how I am about costuming. I instantly say, prepare to be drivin insane for the next 3 weeks!
Now understand that I obsess about things. I have been accused of “over analyzing things to sh*t” and yes I admit it freely, took years of therapy for that. I grab my sketch pad, and start plotting and planning. I sketch have an idea and start thinking it all through. Then reality hits, I do not have a hundred of dollars to get fabric, we are working on one income, car payment, rent etc – crap! And it hits!
I have a black prom dress, that I used for another costume and is a good base, including boning, netting, a little tuck here and there alter here and there. First I created a lace up back to it, using button thread, creating loops with a pencil for size, and pre-marking the zipper with tailors chalk. Took about an hour or so and boy were my hands sore from pushing the needle through. I then took ribbon that I scrounged from my mother’s sewing table, she always had a little of this or that tucked in the bottom drawer. That drawer is like Mary Poppins carpet bag it always seems endless and full of wonderous things.
I found a ribbon flower tutorial on youtube which has me currently obsessed these days. Out comes old scraps of fabric and my glue gun. I created some flowers using old buttons from again Mom’s sewing table of goodness. Sewed them onto the skirt in a pick-up detail to give look of a can-can skirt. One of my friends of work loaned me the underbust corset and I added a white tank top for modesty after all it is a family event and I am not that kinda of girl.
In my closet I have one of my prize possessions, Grandpa Harry’s Bowler hat, perfect condition. I used wear this to school with a white pitchfork taped to the front during the 80s and my Boy George obsession. Again back to the bottomless pit of moms sewing table and TA DA scarves and bridal veiling. Wrap around hat for a “riding hat” appeal. (At the event, I had people asking me about my hat some were so impressed that it was that old!) Ok I’m done.
Jay lets me know that his dad wants me to make him a costume too at the 10 day countdown mark. Crap! Ok I can do this, So I go back to sketching. A cast away, a buccaneer, oh wait his step sister and step mother may go too, so I need two more costumes. I make phone calls for sizes, and wait clock ticks down, 9-8-7, that’s it I'll just get things and hope for the best.
Goodwill, thrift stores are a god send! This is something that anyone can do, I look for the base garment, tops, bottoms, accessories, fabrics, scarves, shoes you name it I make it work! So lets go through the process of how I put together the three pirate costumes, you can do this at home with anything you hae also.
Take an old dress shirt, preferably one size too big, if its stained even better! I prefer to work with rotary cutters for straight cuts but fine details I use regular shears. I started by cutting the pointy collars off, pop off the buttons to the middle of the chest. Next lay the shirt flat on a safe cutting surface. If you happen to be using a rotary cutter put your CUTTING MAT DOWN or you will put grooves into your work surface. Take your cutter and create a zigzag pattern at various lengths, you want to give the appearance that your shirt was torn or ripped. Save the cuttings! You can then get yarn or string of a darker color to whip stitch a patch on the body of the shirt with the pant scraps!
Again old pants, bigger and baggy, you can use a piece of clothes line as a belt sure why not! Repeat the zigzag pattern on the legs, one longer than the other. Save the cuttings! Add a patch from the shirt cuttings to the pants.
I used a scarf as a sash, sometimes you have to cut them in half lengthwise then stitch them end to end to get the right length. I also used a scarf as a head wrap too. Shoes can be sandals; work boots whatever works for you. If it’s cold you can wear layers underneath easily.
My total cost: $10.
Shirt should be larger than you are, this gives it the “puffy” feel. Start the same way, cut the collar off again making a mandarin type style. I then used a grommet kit to make a “x” of laces at mid chest level.
I then took a black sheet, twin size will work fine, cut it in half exactly. Fold in half, mark the center , cut only half way into the square but in the center (see diagram). I turned the edges under on either side to prevent fray.
I found a red oversized T-Shirt, on clearance. Cut the body off from the sleeves, save them! Again, I stitched the pieces of the body of the shirt into 4 pieces, end to end to make another sash, found some discarded trim and sewed that to the very very ends of the sash, this should be able to wrap around you at least twice!
You can use old pants that have shrunk or are too long, I used a pair of linen slacks. I didn’t care about the length, but it had a good hem on them. I then opened the hem at the seam line, ran a fabric ribbon or strip of old fabric through it to make it a tie, you can use this to gather them at the top of a boot or your shoes and create a blousy pant similar to knickers.
I saved the t-shirt arms and stitched it shut along the top to create the night cap. A $5 foam sword from a big name store and instant pirate. Add an earring maybe some costume pins to make it stand out.
Total Cost: $10
This was the easiest, I just found a oversized peasant blouse and long skirt, you can layer a boho top over a maxi dress too. The best part of this find was the belly wrap scarf. I actually felt guilt on this one. Round table cloth with crystal trim already sewn on the edge. Cut in half, double usage, one for the waist one for head.
Add jewelry, bangles, big earrings – if you don’t have pierced ears put the earrings in the scarf, you can sew them or hook them through the fabric. Pair with ballet flats and your ready to rock!
Total Cost: $7
All of these can be made with your old clothes or stuff you find at a thrift store. You do not need a lot of sewing skills either, if you don’t want to sew use Wonder Under hemming tape or a glue gun for the patches.
I have to tell you everyone was so happy with their costumes and we even had our pictures taken with so many people. People stopped us for a picture left and right even real re-enactors were impressed. They may have been homemade but they sure didn’t look like it or look like the usual store bought ones either. I do love using costume store accessories but in a pinch dig around get creative.