• Jennifer Rasnake

Captain Jack Sparrow cosplay build

In late 2014, long before Jennifer and I had met, I started my first real cosplay. It was mostly thrifted and was not a very accurate or recognizable costume. Since then, I have made about 7 more. All of which have been more and more accurate. The current costume is very easily recognizable and is the most accurate I've done so far. So let's break it down!

Captain Jack 2021

Hat, Wig and Bandana

Going head first into it, pun intended, is the most intricate part of the build in my opinion. The wig is a pain to do, but it is also super rewarding. It starts with a base wig, preferably a medium brown about 16-18" and wavy. You'll need 2-3 jumbo braids worth of kanekalon hair in dark brown, light brown and off black. I use a small crochet needle to do my dreads and I ended up adding around 30 to this wig. Some of the dreads were a mixture of colors and some were solid colors, this is accurate to do. You'll want most of your dreads to lay on your shoulders, with a few coming onto your upper chest (all depending on the movie). Once you get a bunch of dreads made into the wig, you'll want to take a lot of the top layer and some dreads and combine them into a braid on the back. There are a couple other very small braids and some dreads with coins and thread in them. Off the left front, there should be a small fly away piece of hair that is styled outwards to lay over the dreads. To the middle of the right top, leave a dread and some loose hair out so that you're able to attach your deer leg bone sail needle. There are 2 bead dangle sets on the wig itself, 3 depending on how you do the Piece of 8. The main dangle is the kuchi strand, which goes in the left front. This dangle is made out of a middle eastern kuchi charm and about 10 other beads of various shapes and sizes. On the right side you have the skunk or trade bead strand. It has several different African trade beads and is less than half the length of the other strand. For the bandana, it is best to buy one already made. There is a particular way to fold it accurately and I typically sew my piece of eight dangle directly to it. This keeps the strand from swinging or sitting wrong. The hat is another interesting DIY that could be its own blog post. It is completely made from scratch using 2 oz goat leather and I did the shaping with bowls from the kitchen. Once I got it all together, I coated the inside with silicone so that it would be crush resistant. Jack's hat is a tricorn, but is cocked on the 2 front sides with the backside rolled up.

Soft Parts

In this portion, we'll be talking about the shirt, waistcoat, trousers, sash and wrist-wrap. We will not be talking about the frock coat. Personally, I start with the Simplicity pattern 4923. This pattern set has the shirt, waistcoat, trousers and even the frock coat patterns to do this costume. For the waistcoat I use a dark blue linen for the front and a natural/neutral colored pinstripe for the back, with a cream colored lining. The trousers are typically a dark grey cotton and the shirt is typically done in a natural muslin fabric. You'll be removing some color and adding some aging to get the colors you want after you finish sewing. Follow the sewing directions to get your pieces done and then use tea staining and color remover to get the look you want. Remember to check reference material. The sash is an odd piece to come by, mostly because it was woven overseas and is extremely expensive to buy elsewhere. A "cost effective solution" was to use Ikea's alvine smal curtain set in red. This ticking pattern is nearly identical, but is out of production. This is the same option I went with and I've been a fan of the fabric. The wrist wrap is some frayed black fabric with several different colors of yarn stitched through it in patterns, but in the past I've used a black burlap.


The belts are pretty easy to do, that's a plus! The buckles can be purchased, as can the belt blanks. Both of the waist/stomach belts need to be longer than you'd typically buy. My stomach is around 38" but the belts I used were around 50" so that I could tie them back onto themselves. The sword belt AKA baldric is the difficult part. It has 4 pieces of hardware; the buckle and 3 conchos that hold the frog onto the belt itself. In the movie, his baldric is made from a paisley embossed leather with a contrast piping along the sides. This particular type of leather is incredibly difficult to find, but vinyl that looks similar isn't. Pattern drafting the baldric can be daunting, but it's not so bad.

Rings and Sword

These are just bought items. There is a surplus amount of rings that were removed from Disney's stores for some reason. They're pretty decent quality, but if you have to dremel it out to fit it will turn your finger green. The sword is a full size costume sword and the scabbard looks okay with a little but of roughing up.


The boots were made from a very thin suede over felt. They were created as boot toppers and then permanently attached to a pair of old dress shoes. If you don't want to waste a bunch of time trying to figure out boots then go barefoot, or at least rope sandals. I went barefoot a while during our photoshoot, but I recommend some sort of footwear if you'll be moving a lot.

Odds and Ends... mostly odd

The shrunken head that I carry on my sword scabbard was handmade. I sculpted it in clay, molded it with plaster and I made a handful of latex copies. From the latex blank I stained it, added the wood in the lips and the stitching, then used some twine for hair and eyebrows. It wasn't super accurate, but it definitely looks real. The compass was made from bass wood, doll house hinges, a donor latch and a Christmas ornament. I also have a voodoo charm set that I put together, which isn't shown. It is made of a real voodoo talisman chicken foot, a piece of animal backbone and a mermaid fertility charm that I carved from cherry wood. The beard is sometimes my own facial hair, but more often than not its a mixture of my hair and some kanekalon hair. I make a fake braid and stitch it into my beard to do the chin braids. I use some heavy eye shadow and then some dark grey eye shadow to complete the look. You can also do the chin wound with a little bit of red to simulate irritation. To do Jack's tattoo I had a stamp made with the swallow design and I roll it over my arm, let it dry and then add some skin tone powder to make it appear real. Adding some dark makeup powder around your finger nails helps sell the dirty pirate look.

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