Friday, 17 October 2014

Frightful Fridays - What to Wear

A Costume Suggestion for Halloween

Happy Frightful Friday! This wouldn't be a sewing blog unless I actually talked about sewing, right? Well today I'm going to share a very simple tutorial with you. This year I'm going to dress up for Halloween as a pirate, it's not my ideal choice but it's convenient so I'll do it. My fiancé also wants to be a pirate, so now I'm working on two costumes. As you can imagine that is a lot of work. I don't want to spend too much time working on costumes because I have other things to attend to. In the mad scramble to get my own costume complete, I came up with a quick and easy way to make my fiancé's costume.

The practice of making a costume from scratch isn't as popular as it once was. DIY use to be the norm when it came to Halloween costumes, but today people are more likely to purchase ready made costumes or assemble a costume from pieces that they find at second hand shops. Very few people make or sew their own costume, I think this is because of time constraints and costs. It's more convenient to buy a thirty dollar costume from Value Village than to spend hours sewing your own. Today, I'm going to show you how I made my fiancé's pirate costume, it's quick and easy and cost us under $11 to make. It can be adapted to other costume needs, perhaps a vampire or Mad Hatter costume. You can sew it for men, women and children. :)
I hope you enjoy it!

What you will need

To start, you will need the following:
  • A button down dress shirt
  • A meter and a half of wide lace, preferably 3" or more, I used 2 1/2" wide lace successfully
  • A sewing machine, unless you intend on sewing by hand
  • Thread
  • Pins
  • Double folded bias tape in same colour as lace, preferably 1/2" - 1" in width
  • A scrap piece of broadcloth or a single sheet of felt, same colour as lace
  • Hook and eye OR a button snap OR velcro

Lace Cuffs

Step One

For the cuff  you will want to leave the button exposed so it can slip into the buttonhole. This is shown in the bottom of the above diagram. You will want to measure just shy of the button to the other end of the cuff. Don't worry that the lace covers the buttonhole, there will be an opening that allows you access to the buttonhole. Add two seam allowances to the measurement you've taken, then use the new measurement to cut two pieces of lace. 

Step Two

After you have cut your two pieces of lace, finish the seams (this is optional) using a serger or the zig-zag stitch on a standard sewing machine. Turn the seam allowance under to the wrong side of the lace, this will be placed down against the cuff so it is hidden from view.

Step Three

Pin the lace wrong side facing the right side of cuff, and as shown in the above diagram. Straight stitch using one of your longest stitches across the bottom of the lace and just above the top of the lace as shown in the diagram. This will secure the lace to the cuff. Make sure to cut off any loose threads. Repeat this process for the other cuff!

Ruffled Collar

Step One

In this tutorial you will essentially be making a ruffled choker. If your dress shirt is rather large, measure around the collar, if your dress shirt is fitted then you can measure the thickness of your neck. Add two inches to this measurement (this includes the seam allowances as well as additional material which you will fold under and into the bias tape). You will want to be able to breathe when wearing this so give it a test before cutting to see if it fits comfortably around your neck. Use this measurement to cut one piece from your double folded bias tape.

Step Two

With the double folded bias tape open, turn in a half an inch on each side and press. These are your edges and they will be hidden from view. Fold your bias tape closed again, and press. You will be sewing this shut after you complete the ruffle.

Step Three

To make the ruffled collar you will need to cut two to three (depending on preference) pieces of lace that are 10" in length. Finish edges (optional) and turn seam allowances under toward wrong side of lace, just as you completed in step one of Lace Cuffs tutorial.

Step Four

Diagram for Step Five
Run a straight stitch along the top of each piece. You will use this to gather the lace. Gather only slightly so the length is reduced to roughly five inches.

Step Five

Using broadcloth or felt, cut a shield like shape that is the same width as your gathered lace. This is the base piece of the ruffled collar. Depending on how many layers of lace you're using the overall length of this piece can vary, what you want is for the piece to taper off suddenly so it is hidden behind the lace. Practice first by placing your lace in layers and then marking the shape on your material. Serge or zig-zag the edge of the base piece if you desire.

Step Six

Sew your lace onto the base. Start with the bottom lace piece, then the middle and finally the top piece of lace, creating that lovely layered effect.

Step Seven

Center the ruffled panel onto the bias tape you cut earlier. Align it so the top of the ruffled panel is equal to the top of the bias tape. Stitch close to the edge of the bias tape, about an 1/8", straight across the ruffled panel.

Step Eight

To finish, sew a hook and eye closure, button snap, or velcro to the ends of the ruffled collar choker. This choker will sit underneath the collar, with the ruffles at the front opening.


It's very easy to wear this pirate dress shirt. Men can pair it with pants and a vest. You could easily buy a vest second hand and embellish it with gold trim and buttons. For girls, you could sew a circle skirt and tuck the shirt in at the waist, then wear a waist belt or cincher over top of it. You could also wear it loose with leggings and a sash around the hips. Pirate women were known for dressing as men, so pants are totally acceptable! Also, many pirates wore luxurious and ill fitting clothing that they stole from the wealthy, so if your dress shirt doesn't fit any more (like my fiancé's shirt) don't worry, it adds to the character! Pair this outfit with a hat and some booties and you're set for Halloween, yarrr! 

The best part of this tutorial is that you could easily remove the embellishments afterward. I'm salvaging the lace from my man's pirate costume for my future sewing projects. : ) I'll post pictures of both our costumes when they're complete! What are you wearing for Halloween?

Kind regards,


  1. I'm sorry you are not feeling very good lately, but your inspirational Friday posts are great :)

    I'm going full sexy purple cray cray this Halloween, but we were both pirates last year!

    1. Thanks you! I'm glad you are enjoying this series, it's been fun making it. I saw pieces of your Halloween costume! It looks rad.

  2. What a great tutorial ;o) Thank you ;o)

  3. Love it!!!! Such a great alternative to the mass-produced costumes out there. A little bit of something different is just perfect!

    1. Thanks! Although some ready to wear costumes are really great, I prefer DIY. It's just so much more rewarding to wear something I've made. :) Plus you can guarantee I won't be wearing the same thing as someone else!

  4. Absolutely wonderful costume and howto!!! You know, I'm having a dilly of a time coming up with one for myself this year (which is soooo uncharacteristic for me!) and pirate keeps floating into my head. Perhaps I'll follow your lead here and whip up my own version. We'll see - I have to come up with something and pronto!!!

    Big hugs & many thanks for taking part in Chronically Vintage's Jord wooden watch giveaway,
    ♥ Jessica

    1. Hey, no problem, thanks for hosting it! I usually don't have trouble choosing a costume either but this year was really difficult for me, I've just been too busy to brainstorm so pirate seemed like the right choice. I'd love to see the costume you come up with! :)


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