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How to Make a Pirate Costume

By: Laura Farrant - Updated: 16 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Pirate Fancy Dress making A Fancy Dress

Pirate costumes are easy to make. If you need to put one together at a moment’s notice read on. This might just be the easiest and simplest costume that you have ever made!

What You Need

Can you remember watching films like Pirates of the Caribbean? Can you remember what pirates generally wear? Well, if nothing comes to mind, here are a few pointers. They generally have black trousers, a stripy top, a hat, an eye patch and plenty of scary looking accessories, like sharp swords and guns.

How do you make this? Well, there is some good news. This type of costume won't require you to make everything from scratch. Simply scour the wardrobes around your home and find some key pieces. These will form the foundation of this costume.

  • Old black trousers or jeans – they shouldn’t be too new; we are going to be creating a few rips and frays!
  • Stripy t-shirt or top – again, it shouldn’t be in pristine condition, the messier, the less ironed the better!
  • A pair of boots – the more beaten up the better: and don’t do those shoelaces up perfectly either!
  • Black belt – make sure that it comes with a big gold buckle!
  • A bright scarf
  • Face paints
  • Elastic
  • An empty egg-box
  • Card
  • Foil
  • Black paint

Getting Started

Lets start with the biggest and most noticeable items:

Get the jeans and cut them with scissors. Ideally, you want them to sit just below the knee. Cut them in a haphazard style – there is no need for precision here! Then get your fingers ready and pull at the line you have just created – you should be able to grab some stray threads. This helps create the messy look that we need.Feel free to adopt the same approach when dealing with the stripy top – rip the edges slightly and give it a lived in feel. Real pirates do not dry clean!

Arts and crafts

It's time to make the eye-patch and cutlass. Grab the card, the paint, the foil, glue and scissors and get started.

Eye eye captain!

The eye patch is very easy. If you don’t have one to hand you can make one with a segment of an egg box, some elastic and some black paint. Simply cut round the egg box to create the perfect shape. Then get some child friendly paint and cover the card. Once its dry, get a thick pin and create two small holes, either side and thread the elastic through. Secure the elastic in place and make sure that it is neither too tight nor too loose.

Sword Fighting

The cutlass is just as straightforward as the eye patch and can be put together with just a few household items. Get some card and draw the outline of a cutlass on it. Silver card is ideal - you want the cutlass to look metallic.

The outline drawn should be a blade shape. Start with a long rectangle of card - about 50cm long and about 10 cm wide, and from here shape it into a dangerous sword shape. If you are not working with silver card, don't worry. Normal kitchen foil can be wrapped around it later and will give the illusion of metal!

For the handle you will need to cut another piece of card with curved corners and a hole, big enough for a hand to fit in, in the middle. Once you have done that, paint it black and let it dry, before securing it to the sword with a staple.

Finishing Touches

To really give the impression of a menacing pirate, you need facepaints! Brown paint will give the ocean-wave tan that pirates naturally possess and a smear of grey or black will give the carefree and dirty look. Don't forget the hair. Pirates do not have carefully blown dry hair! Mess up your hair and then liberally spray some hairspray to give a matted appearance.


It's not as hard as you think to make your own costume. A few simple accessories and a few special finishing touches will bring it all together!

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