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There’s still time to turn your child into a pirate for Gasparilla

Posted Jan 18, 2011 by Courtney Cairns Pastor

Updated Jan 19, 2011 at 11:23 AM

I used to see striped shirts or skull-and-crossbone T’s and think, “That would be perfect for me to wear to Gasparilla.”

Now I wonder if they come in my son’s size.

I have temporarily – maybe permanently – retired from the day and Knight Gasparilla parades, but now that I have a toddler, the children’s parade is on my calendar. It kicks off Tampa’s pirate season Saturday, and although my husband and I are waffling on whether our son is old enough to go without getting overwhelmed, I know exactly what he’ll wear if we do.

It’s a Janie and Jack shirt my mother-in-law bought him, with a pirate ship appliqué. I haven’t let him wear it (read: trash it) yet, but even though it seemed festive and meltdown-proof, the thought of putting a puffy shirt, sash, sword and hat on a squirmy toddler does not appeal.

He’s not getting off costume-free next year, though. And as it turns out, I can assemble a pirate costume relatively painlessly with a little help from craft and consignment stores and some creativity. If you’re hurting for ideas this year and feel pressed for time, we have some suggestions for you. We put together some costumes for and Friday Extra, because we’re hard workers like that.

Here are some tips to outfit your pint-sized pirate:

Red, white and black is the color scheme of choice, although some of the pirate princesses prefer pink and black. If you don’t have castoff clothes to use, search thrift or consignment stores (Once Upon a Child would be a good option) for black, white or striped shirts and baggy pants, shorts or skirts. This is one time when holes and frayed hems are OK – you’ll want to cut a fringe or a zig-zag pattern along the bottoms of your pants or skirt.

Craft stores carry iron-on designs, many with a pirate theme, that you can use to decorate a plain shirt. We found a good selection of iron-ons for girls at a local Michaels, including a sparkly skull. I bought the boyish fabric skull iron-on last year at Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts.

And that’s your base. But pirates are all about the accessories.

A sash around the waist – a scarf or strip of red material – ties it all together. Tights, preferably striped, are a good touch for girls. A hat or bandanna (or both) is a must. Don’t have one? Use leftover fabric as a head wrap tied with a knot or secured with a ponytail holder.

Print out skull templates from a website (search for free templates or printables like this one), or freehand one on construction paper or felt to pin or hot-glue it to a hat. Or go old-school and fold your own hat out of the newspaper’s comic section.

Take it a step further with some extra touches. Pin a stuffed parrot to your child’s shoulder. Rub on a temporary tattoo. Want a hook? Make one with aluminum foil and a plastic cup – cut a hole in the bottom of the cup and twist the foil into a hook. Insert the foil into the cup, leaving enough length for the child to grab it. This example covers the hook in black duct tape, but I used a red plastic cup that went with my color scheme.

And how adorable (I mean frightening) is a little guy with a 5 o’clock shadow or goatee, thanks to some eyeliner or eyeshadow?

For more on Gasparilla, check out Friday Extra.

Reader Comments

Por (Hooded Scarves) on February 04, 2011 (Suggest removal)

Awe these are cute pictures, both of them are looking really sweet. The scarf on the girl’s head is looking good. I wonder if we can find more stuff of same kind.

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Por (Courtney Cairns Pastor) on February 04, 2011 (Suggest removal)

If you’re in Tampa, I found some adorable bandanas at Little Peeps on South Dale Mabry. Another option is online through Oriental Trading Company—they have tons of pirate stuff!

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