Last-minute pirate costume tips for Halloween from Dollar Store Crafts

Need a great Halloween costume in a hurry? Here is the ultimate guide to creating a last-minute pirate costume for Halloween. There are so many different ways to make a great No-Sew Pirate Costume, so I’ll give you all my secrets on how to make, find, or modify each part of the pirate costume to make it work for you.

Arrrgh, don’t worry about yer Halloween costume this year, matey! It’s easy to make a pirate costume using items you already have in your closet. With just a little cleverness and an eye for repurposing, you’ll have a great costume fit for collecting booty (or candy).

Ultimate guide to creating a last-minute pirate costume

Last-Minute Pirate Costume Materials:

(*can be purchased at the dollar store)

Pirate Hat (choose one):

  • 1 scarf or bandanna*
  • 1 long-sleeve striped t-shirt sleeve
  • 1 pirate accessory kit (from the dollar store)*
  • 1 large round sun hat (from the thrift store)

Pirate Top (choose one or more):

  • 1 striped t-shirt or long-sleeved tee
  • 1 vest
  • 1 white blouse (women’s, lacy or flowy is good)
  • 1 women’s jacket (plain, in corduroy or velvet)

Pirate Pants (choose one):

  • 1 pair plain pants (black, brown, navy blue)
  • 1 pair pin-striped pants
  • 1 pair plain capri-style pants
  • 1 skirt

Pirate Shoes and Socks (choose one):

  • knee-length white socks and black shoes (tennis shoes, dress shoes, or mary jane-style)*
  • knee-length striped socks and shoes (tennis shoes, dress shoes, or mary jane-style)*
  • sandals

Pirate Accessories (choose one or more):

  • 1 wide women’s belt (black or brown)
  • 1 leather belt with metal buckle
  • 1 long lightweight scarf
  • 1 white or plain-colored bandanna (or piece of fabric)
  • eye-patch*
  • hook hand*
  • toy or paper parrot*
  • hoop earring or earrings*
  • sparkly jewelry*

The ultimate guide to creating a last-minute pirate costume for halloween

DIY Pirate Costume Instructions:

Make the Pirate Hat:

A. Bandanna Hat:

Tie scarf or bandanna on your child’s head for a ship’s mate style hat.

  • For square bandannas or scarves: fold in half diagonally. Place long flat side against forehead, and tuck opposite point at back of neck. Bring side points around the back of head and tie together in a knot.
  • For long lightweight scarves: put on head and tie in the back. Let long ties hang down back.

B. Stocking Cap

Cut the sleeve off a long-sleeved striped t-shirt for a pirate-style stocking cap. Stretch the wide part of the sleeve over your head like a hat and then, knot the top. Cut off excess.

C. Buy a pirate hat

I found a pirate accessory kit at the dollar store that included a pirate hat, plastic sword, and eye-patch.

D. Make a Tri-corn hat

This is the style of hat worn by famous movie pirates like Captain Jack Sparrow. To make one, find a large, round women’s sun hat at a thrift store. Fold the brim up and staple to the crown of hat, on three sides. I made a video tutorial for making a tri-corn hat, so check that out if you need more visual help.

The ultimate guide to creating a pirate costume - dollar store crafts

Put together the pirate top:
A. Long-sleeved t-shirt

A long-sleeved t-shirt is a great base for a ship’s mate style pirate costume. Look for long-sleeved striped t-shirts in 2 colors — any color will do, but just build the rest of your costume color palette around the shirt colors. Or, use a plain white or cream colored henley or thermal shirt.

B. A women’s blouse

A plain white or off-white blouse makes a great pirate captain shirt (or other plain colors, if the details of the shirt fit the pirate aesthetic). If you are dressing your child but using an adult blouse, roll up the sleeves, or put a loose rubber band around your child’s wrist and tuck the cuff around it. 

  • Things to look for in a pirate blouse: lace (especially at the neck or cuffs), an interesting non-modern detail on the front like pleating, collars or no collars are fine.
  • Things to avoid: zippers and snaps.

C. Add a vest

Add a vest over the base shirt to include another layer of detail. Dark, plain vests are best: black, brown, navy blue, and red are all good choices.

D. Add a jacket

You can also add a women’s jacket if you have one that looks somewhat pirate-y. A plain jacket in dark corduroy or velvet could be good, especially with a belt over the shoulder.

Ultimate Pirate Costume How-To Guide

Make the Pirate Pants:

A. Knee-length pants

Many pirates wore short knee-length pants. Choose plain pants (black, brown, navy blue) or pinstriped pants and roll them up to the knee or tuck them into long socks. Plain, dark capri pants can also work.

B. Raggedy pants

Get the shipwrecked pirate look by taking a pair of old pants and cutting them off jaggedly at the knee.

C. Pirate skirt

Twist the idea of the pirate costume by wearing a plain dark skirt. Who says girl pirates can’t wear skirts?

Assemble the Pirate Shoes and Socks:

A. Choose knee-length socks in black, white, or stripes. Pull them all the way up to the knee.

B. Wear black or brown shoes. Best shoes: dark boots, leather dress shoes or mary janes. Add an oversized cardboard buckle, if desired. Plain dark tennis shoes will also work.

C. Another option is to wear sandals without socks (good for the shipwrecked pirate look).

Just Add Pirate Accessories (choose one or more):

The ultimate guide to creating a last-minute DIY Pirate Costume

The accessories really make your pirate costume. Try to have at least one of the classic pirate details: an eye-patch, a hook, or a sword.

A. Belt/Bandolier: The best pirate accessory is a wide belt with a large buckle, slung over one shoulder. A plain leather belt with metal buckle will also work.

B. Scarf Sash: Make a sash for your waist with a long lightweight scarf. Wrap it around the waist once or twice and knot at the side.

C. Neckerchief: A white or plain-colored scarf (or piece of fabric) tied around the neck with the knot at the neck is a great pirate detail.

D. Eye-patch: You can make an eye-patch if necessary, but it is far easier to buy one. Store-bought eye-patches fit well and look good. You can find eye-patches at the dollar store (toy section), or at a drug store near the visual aids section.

  • DIY Eyepatch: If you want to make an eyepatch, cut a half-circle piece of felt and tie on two pieces of ribbon or elastic. Adjust to fit.

E. Hook Hand: To make a hook hand take a party cup (make sure the pirate’s fist can fit inside comfortably), cut a slit in the bottom of the cup. Insert a hook made from cardboard (cut a hook shape out) or the end of a plastic hanger. Secure with duct tape or hot glue. (Note: Avoid using wire hangers because they can be dangerous and cause injury).

Add a pet parrot to a DIY Pirate Costume

F. Pet Parrot: Use a toy stuffed parrot or other bird and attach to shoulder. Or make this fun paper parrot with your child.

G. Pirate Earring: Pirates often wore earrings. Hoop earrings are a good choice for girl pirates with pierced ears, or find a clip-on earring for pirates without pierced ears. You can find these at party or dollar stores.

H. Accessorize with jewelry. A pirate medallion will do for a hard-working pirate, or clip on sparkly pins to a fancy pirate captain.

I. Pirate Weapons: Attach a sword or pirate gun to the costume. Find these at party or dollar stores, or make them out of cardboard. Tuck the weapon into the costume with a sash.

The ultimate guide to creating a pirate costume - dollar store crafts

DIY Pirate Costume Tips

Finding your supplies: Remember, you are not limited to just your child’s wardrobe. Don’t overlook old clothes from other members of the family as well. An old blouse from Mom’s closet will make a great pirate captain’s shirt. After you’ve checked your closet for pirate gear, fill in with items from the thrift store or dollar store to round out your outfit. If you are going to cut up or modify clothing, you might want to buy it at the thrift store. Pirate accessories are easy to find at the dollar store or discount store.

Pirate Perfection: Don’t worry if you can’t get everything perfect. Pirates had to use what they could get, and it’s okay to do the same with your pirate costume!

DIY Pirate costume - the ultimate guide