DIY Pirate Costume and Props

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FunkyLady and Husband

Arrr! Last week I posted two videos on how to talk like a pirate. Now that you’re starting to sound like you belong on the Black Pearl, it’s time to get your pirate costume together for next week’s world wide pirate celebration on Friday, the 19th.

If you’re fanatics like my husband and me, you won’t stop at costumes. Two years ago, we created a whole pirate scene in our front yard, most of which we made ourselves.

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But I’m getting ahead of myself. First you need to look like a pirate. Try to use items from your own closet (Like mine in this picture)…a vest, white shirt, knee-hi boots and a longish coat (costume friendly for men, women and children who want to be pirates). For a headband, simply buy about two yards of cheapo fabric and cut it into two equal, length-wise pieces. Use one for your headband (or just buy the headband w/attached hair from a costume company, they’re as cheap as $5.68) and one strip for the waist sash. To add an extra bit of flair, make 1 x 2 inch” cuts across each end of your sash and tie them off to make tassels. To give your teeth an extra grimy look, color them with brown eye liner (I offered our guests a kiss but alas, there were no volunteers).

Keep in mind that old, over-sized dress shirts can be very versatile. You can cut off the sleeves and collar of a dark colored shirt to make a vest, for example. Or, cut off the collar and make a casing to thread elastic through for a woman’s pirate shirt as seen on this threadbanger.com video (it also teaches you how to make a tricorn hat and pirate corset from old leather pants).

Okay, here’s the really fun part…creating a backdrop for your pirate. You can build a ship’s mast, like the one here, out of 3-4” black PVC pipe. Sew four packages of creepy cloth together for the tattered sail and attach it to the mast with hemp string. Create a crow’s nest from an apple basket and attach a pirate flag to the top of the mast.

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We had a few bags of skeleton bones hanging around (No, we did not get them out of our closet) so we spread them around the mast in a wide arch on the ground. Next, we borrowed a neighbor’s old wooden chest and fitted it with a plastic see-through shelf on top of which we threw fake gold coins and gems. A spotlight was under the clear shelf to make the fake loot really shine.

The sidewalk was lined with iron garden hooks, thick rope tied between each. From the end of the hooks we hung pirate skeleton heads and faux cauldrons. The cannons were made with a plywood base and painted with a wood-graining tool. Black PVC pipe was laid in the base to create the guns. We made our guns functional by placing a flashing orange bulb and remote control fogging device inside the PVC pipe. Ka-boom! For added effect, we cranked up the soundtrack to Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s chest and piped the sound outside.

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Raid your house for possible fabric and equipment that might be used (in our case, a ship’s wheel from my nautical room, fish netting from a previous party, clothes from my closet, rope, wood-graining tool and extension cords from the garage, cardboard for making sign’s, etc.) to create your costumes and props, before making your final shopping list…you might already have some useful pirate booty hanging around!

This pirate scene took a little time and work, but we had a blast and we suspect other’s did too because people came from all over the city to take pictures. I must warn you, though…if you go all out, your neighbors will expect you to do it every year. If you don’t, you’ll hear about it every year after that.





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  • http://eqos.deviantart.com Camilla

    Wow! I am super impressed! I’m not that great at decorating. I have a friend whose backyard is like a little pirate hideout, but I think this beats his!

  • Kimberly

    Great job! I am decorating my pool/deck area like a pirate ship this year, and you’ve given me lots of great ideas. Thanks…and ARRRGGHHH!!!!

  • robit

    you look ugly