Sunday, 12 August 2018

4 Day Pirate Costume

Everyone loves a challenge...right?

Our newly formed/re-formed Historical Sewing group organiser Leimomi, invited us to a Pirate Picnic...with four days notice. Bless.

I love a costume party. Nothing like a bit of cosplay for a laugh! So of course I was going to go all out. A stripy scarf and a plastic gun wasn't going to cut it for me. I joined my kids for a bit of Pirates of the Caribbean, and this is what I came up with on my pinterest costume list:

Underbust and layers

More underbust and off-the-shoulder

A bit of stripe and a headscarf

  • A billowy black skirt
  • A petticoat in contrasting colour
  • A black and red corset
  • A white off-the-shoulder blouse
  • A head scarf 
  • Gold earrings
  • Black and white stripy stockings
  • Some fun coloured shoes
I had the shirt, earrings and a great pair of green heels that I love to wear, and I could tear up some leftover linen for a head scarf, but the rest needed some thought. Pete's Emporium provided the stripy stockings, but the rest I'd have to make.

A quick trip to Spotlight, with a list that mostly looked like this:
  • black ...
  • black ...
  • black ...
  • ...

Billowy Black Pirate Skirt

  • 3m black broadcloth (114cm wide)
  • 1m Black ribbon
  • Black thread
In order to get maximum width, I sewed this with selvages a the top and bottom rather than your usual selvages as seams. The excess length made a great hem which was inches wide instead of a narrow one. The skirt was then just gathered using a cartridge pleat and sewn onto a self-waistband.

One little trick I learned with the cartridge pleating: I sewed a widely spaced row of stitches at the waist using a contrasting colour and then was able to use this to sew my pleating rows (I used 2 machine stitches per cartridge pleat). This made lining the rows of gathers up quite easy.

Black and Red Underbust Corset

  • 1/2m black cotton duck
  • 1/2m lining fabric upholstery cotton
  • 20 cable ties
  • 32 1cm metal grommets
  • 5m black satin ribbon
  • 1 pack red bias binding.
  • 2m black bias binding

This was a bit of fun, and only took just over a day to make. I used a pattern I had drafted myself to use when back pain was an issue, and simply changed up the colours.

Lining and outer fabric were sewn up as one, with seam allowance to the outside. These were trimmed to 5mm and then boning channels sewn over them using bias binding. Front and back facings were folded to inside and 2 boning channels sewn in them. Grommets inserted between these 2 rows. Bottom was bound using black bias binding sewn to outside, flipped inside and whipped down. Bones were inserted and top binding was applied ditto.

It looked amazing with the billowy skirt and petticoat, and the off-the shoulder white blouse.

White Frilly Petticoat

  • 2.5m white broad cloth (114cm wide)
  • 5m cotton broderie anglaise 

Finally I needed a new petticoat to go under the skirt. For this I sewed it the usual way with selvages at the sides, leaving side openings and doing the traditional tying method with the front and back waistband separate which tie at the back and at the front respectively.

At the bottom I sewed 4 pin tucks and then a deep gathered hem which was edged with cotton lace. I had intended to do the seam with the seam allowances out and then cover them with a ribbon-inserted lace strip as this leaves the inside much tidier but I forgot this until after the seam was done.


Altogether I had a blast sewing and then wearing the costume and the weather was perfectly pirate-y for the event. Wind strong enough to blow you over and plenty of sea and froth for the photos. Leimomi did a great write up here on it, with much better photos than I could take! 

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