Captain Barbossa (POTC) Costume

HectorB

New Member
Hey all,

I’m new to the forums but a long time lurker that’s been slowly accumulating knowledge. I’ve been putting together a Barbossa outfit from Pirates of the Caribbean and it’s finally at a stage where I feel I can show it off a bit.

There are still some details I’d like to add (namely a more accurate belt), but I’m comfortable with how it is presently for conventions and pirate festivals.

A big thank you to fellow Barbossa costumers that have helped me with the outfit - it’s a challenging piece with many custom parts that is remarkably hard to get looking authentic. I’ll post a follow-up comment tomorrow morning detailing the process, but I figured I’d share the end result in the meantime.

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HectorB

New Member
Looking great! I love the distressing on the hat!!
Thank you! The hat was the first piece I finished and getting it to look right was definitely a labor of love.

Entire write up on my hat experience coming tomorrow! Definitely more than meets the eye when it comes to this piece.
 

HectorB

New Member
As promised, here is more of a process write up for putting together Barbossa.

I started with the hat. It’s probably his most iconic accessory, and it was surprisingly hard to get right.

I was going for a CotBP look, where his hat has much more distinctive ostrich feathers and appears to be significantly more “cocked” on the side. I purchased a felt hat blank from Townsends and went to work trimming the brim and getting the shape correct through the use of steam and hat stiffener, as the hat itself came rather floppy from Townsends. Once I got the shape right, I moved onto the feathers.

Looking at behind the scene images from CotBP, Barbossa’s hat actually has three different colors of ostrich feathers - black, brown, and a light natural gray. I cut the plumes to length and curled the feather barbs using dull scissors so they appear fuller and more plume-like. I sewed the completed bundle onto black aluminum wire so they would hold their shape even in windy conditions and sewed the bundle onto the hat. The pheasant feather on the actual hat is golden pheasant, but I used a ring tailed pheasant feather and am considering it good enough.

Next, I got a rough leather hat band and sculpted the buckle from reference images out of polymer clay. The band itself is not actually functional, just hot glued onto the crown.

Finally, I went through the process of weathering the hat. Barbossa’s hat looks really grimy and worn, so I used various shades of black, brown, and gray fabric paint to give the hat some dimension. Then I used splotches of white glue to create even more texture, which led to a really cool splotchy effect that the actual hat has in the movie.

It was a labor of love to be sure, but I wanted to get it right - and I wasn’t able to find a ready made Barbossa hat that seemed to fit the bill.
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HectorB

New Member
The bandanna and undershirt were both purchased from a pirate re-enactment store here locally called Pirate Fashions. The bandanna is in a color called “forest green” and was pretty good as is. I wore it often when I was out on my boat and over the months it achieved a very natural sun-faded look. One of the easier parts of the costume!

The shirt was far too good looking - so after washing it a handful of times to loosen it up, I gave it a light tea bath to get rid of some of the whiteness.

Unlike Jack’s undershirt, Barbossa’s seems to be slightly less weathered in the reference images I could find, but since he almost always wears his coat, finding a picture of just the shirt was difficult, even in behind the scene shots. In the end, I feel it works well with just a light tea bath, but the shirt itself was fairly cheap so I may experiment with slightly more gray in the future.

The ruffles at the cuff were a little too pronounced originally so I undid the hem and ironed them out a bit. This created a really neat “unfinished” look that matches the hero shirt.
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HectorB

New Member
Next items were the pants and boots.

The pants are the “marooner” breeches in black from Pirate Fashions. They aren’t perfect as they lack the front fly that the screen used breeches have, but they are close enough for me. I’ve toyed with the idea of sewing on some buttons where they fly would be to make them a little more accurate, but that is fairly low on my priority list as far as adjustments to the outfit go.

The boots are the “Captain Hook” style from Medieval Collectables. A company called CA Boots manufactured the boots for the later POTC films, but at $600 for their Barbossa boots, I decided to hold off on those for the time being. I’m sure they’re a lovely boot…maybe one day!

The boots came as this really fake looking feaux leather, but they are the right general shape and fit well, which I was a little concerned about. I first brushed the boots with some rubbing alcohol to remove the shine and then used acrylic paint, dirt from the back yard, and clear coat sealant to dirty them up.

The end result is a boot that looks surprisingly authentic for only being $40. I have a feeling they won’t last forever - but for that price I have no issues going through the process to modify another pair when that day comes.
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HectorB

New Member
Now the coat…

To my knowledge, no one has ever been able to find the original coat fabric. Every resource I talked to has never seen it or even a swatch of it.

I have a feeling the original material was either custom made for the films or was a specialty find that was all used up by the costume department for the Barbossa outfits. I just had my coat done in gray wool and am calling it good enough for now - it’s a little too light and lacks the distinctive dots the original fabric has, but I decided to try to replicate those (via sharpie or fabric paint) would be a one way ticket to crazyville and probably wouldn’t look very good anyways.

The coat was made by an Etsy seller that specializes in regency clothing, and it’s is VERY well made. She offers to make the coat out of any fabric you might find, so I would love to find something more accurate to the original - a charcoal silky fabric with the distinctive dots. The search continues…

The only alteration I did to my coat was on the buttons. They came far too silver for my taste so I weathered them with rub n buff and a light patina to match the screen used piece.
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HectorB

New Member
The vest fabric was another challenge…the original is again very distinctive and seemingly impossible to find anymore.

A Barbossa costumer actually did manage to get a hold of enough of the original fabric to make a vest, so it’s not as elusive as the coat fabric, but it seems like whatever was left of it is long gone now too.

I ended up finding an upholstery fabric online that looked close enough to me and I bought 3 yards of the stuff. I’m glad I did, because now it is out of stock everywhere and nobody has any idea if or when it will come back. I only used 1.5 yards of my fabric so if anyone is looking for a pretty good vest material, let me know!

I had a local seamstress make the vest. She just so happens to be a huge POTC fan and was thrilled to tackle Barbossa’s vest. We ended up using a combination of images of a screen used vest and an old Simplicity Ben Franklin vest pattern to create the vest. It turned out great and fits like a glove.

Barbossa’s vest is really grimy, so I decided to weather it a bit using fabric paints. It was very nerve racking starting out, but I think the end result adds so much to the overall look.

The buttons are close to the screen accurate ones, but I am not talented enough to make them myself and a gentleman who used to cast them himself no longer does them. Replacing the current buttons with accurate ones is high on my list of things I’d still like to tackle.
 

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Dr Jones Sr

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Hi, great costume!

I would recommend switching out the modern chrome crossbelt hardware set for a vintage set.

In the old days, up through the 1940s, Scottish buckles etc were generally made from solid nickel-silver AKA German silver AKA cupro-nickel.

Here are two sets of mine, on the left is a modern chrome-plated set, on the right is a c1900-1950 solid nickel-silver set.

Seems clear from photos that Barbossa wears a vintage nickel-silver set.

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