Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pirate Fest!

The NorCal Pirate Festival is held in June right on the San Francisco Bay waterfront in Vallejo. I've never gone in costume, but it is an event where tons of people dress up, so I decided I needed a pirate outfit for this year. I wanted to do something a little different than the usual and tried to go for something a little bit 18th century, a little bit gothic lolita, and a little bit cocktail dress.


From the Stash:
  • Black linen blend in 2 pieces, one 1 yard 45" wide and one 2.5 yards 20" wide
  • Two pieces of black cotton, total ~2 yards
  • 1/2 yard skull and roses print
  • 1/2 yard burgundy duck cloth for interlining
  • 3 yards black grosgrain ribbon
  • Fusible and fusible tricot interfacing
  • 8 black and silver skull and crossbone buttons

From the Stash:
  • Black net petticoat
  • 1 yard of 10" wide skull and crossbone print cotton
  • package of black Rit dye
  • 6 yards of various widths unbleached twill tape
  • 2.5 yards striped fabric
  • 6 yards black lace

From the Stash:
  • Buckram form
  • Fabric from bodice and skirt
  • 1/2 yard black braid trim
  • Ostrich feathers and various clip-on fascinators

I really like J.P. Ryan's 18th century jacket pattern, I've used it before and the pattern goes together easily and looks good on almost anyone. I decided to make a version of view B, which is modeled on jackets of the 1760's. The only alterations I have made for this pattern is to make the sleeves slightly looser in the bicep area.
I used the skull and roses print for one side of the stomacher and the black linen for the other side. The jacket is black linen blend that is bag lined in black cotton; not a period technique but it goes together quickly. I couldn't find the cuff pattern so I made the sleeves as seen in views C&D and finished the lower edge with gathered black lace. Since my buttons are metal and fairly heavy I interface the front edges with both a regular fusible and a fusible tricot. I was able to make the entire jacket in a few hours spread over two evenings.

I really wanted to make the skirt out of a red and black striped fabric but had an incredibly hard time finding one. Joann's, Discount Fabrics, and Fabrix didn't have any. I finally decided to use a white and reddish pink stripe that I found on the $2.39/yard shelves at Fabrix and decided to dye it with black Rit dye. I got out my large dye pot and smushed 2.5 yards of glazed cotton in. As might have been predicted this did not go terribly well. The finishing on the fabric created creases and the fabric did not dye black but did eventually reach a medium gray/lavender shade. I dumped the whole thing into my bathtub (which dyed the tub purple and required a lot of scrubbing with bleach later) and swished it around to even out the color. The final result was a toned down red stripe and a bit of a distressed looking fabric. Despite the fact that it wasn't my initial idea I decided that it would do very nicely for a pirate costume.

I constructed the skirt in the style of an 18th century petticoat. This is basically two rectangles attached to twill or linen tape, which are then tied around the waist. The advantage of this is that it creates two openings on the side through which you can access your pockets that are tied on underneath. Koshka the Cat has an excellent tutorial, titled, An Easy, Authentic Eighteenth Century Petticoat. The skirt is edged in 4 yards of gathered black lace. In addition to making the skirt cocktail length I decided to give it a little bit of kick with a net petticoat underneath. I already had a black net petticoat in the stash that I purchased at a theater costume sale. The skirt had one opening in the back and I converted it to the 18th c. petticoat style and adde a yoke at the top to give it more length. Since this is a pirate costume I used a scrap piece of skull print cotton that I can't remember why I bought it. They kind of look like tiny TIE fighters in this picture but are really kind of blobby skulls.

Every pirate outfit needs a hat. I started mine using a buckram form and covered it with leftover fabric from the skirt construction. I sewed on a black braid from the stash to cover all the seams. In retrospect it would be better to cover the brim of the hat while it is flat and then curve it back into tricorn shape. I decorated the hat using several fascinators from my collection and white ostrich plumes that I curled using scissor, similar to curling gift wrap ribbon. I used a black elastic band to secure the hat on my head. With a couple of bobby pins this held the whole thing in place for hours even with a moderate breeze.

I wore the jacket over my 18th century half-boned stays with a pair of clocked stockings and 18th c. style shoes from Fugawee. The whole outfit was very comfortable, I was able to easily drive a car and dance to Tempest at the Pirate Ball at night. The weather for the Pirate Fest was sunny and breezy, perfect for an outdoor festival.

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