NB: Quotes and illustrations are from various Captain Pugwash books by John Ryan
"Captain Pugwash was a pirate. He thought
himself the bravest, most handsome pirate
on the seven seas. Here is a portait of him."
"He had too, a cabin boy called Tom, and
this was lucky, because Tom was really the
only person aboard who knew how to work
the compass, sail the ship, and make the tea."
This week was Book Week and Thursday was dress up as a book character day at P's school. Without giving any thought to the weather P and I decided on our favourite Caribbean pirate cabin boy, Tom.
Before we go any further, let's just get the whole Roger rumour out of the way. Sure, there was a cheeky BBC televised cartoon of Pugwash and some of the crew had very risque names but Roger the Cabin Boy is a myth. Right, back to Tom...
Tom wears a red and white striped T-shirt with wide stripes and a ragged pair of blue pants. So I set out to do just the same for my little cabin boy. Then we set sail for a photoshoot and he proved that he too could scrub the decks, turn the capstan and make the tea!
His pants were easy. Yep, I obviously just hacked up a pair of old school pants (seen here new). He'd already worn through the knees so they were destined to be turned into summer shorts anyway.
The T-shirt took a bit more thought. I'd just made the Oliver + S Parachute Polo and it seemed the perfect starting point with its side hem splits and good fit.
I was never going to find such wide striped fabric so I chopped the pattern up in order to join sections of red and white cotton lycra and get my stripe width just right. The sleeve stripes are slightly narrower in order to make them fit, but it looks like I could have just cut the sleeves a bit longer and kept it all the same after all. I wasn't working to the pattern sleeve length but just aiming for something longer than a regular T-shirt.
The only other change was the neckline. I kept the height of the original neckline front and back but squared it off. After drawing the rectangular neckline, I just copied that line to make a 1.5" wide facing. The facing is sewn with a straight stitch, so it loses any elasticity, but a quick check showed it would fit easily over his head. Phew.
After having had some pleasant spring weather the week before last, this week we were plunged back into winter. Thursday, dress up day, was one of the worst and it rained most of the day. Of course he did wear shoes to school, and layered up with a singlet and swim trunks underneath. He shivered bravely through the parade like any long suffering cabin boy and then wore his school jacket for the rest of the day.
Today we were gifted with another nice sunny day, and while the wind is still cold, it's starting to feel like spring is almost here.
We had a family outing to the Polly Woodside, which I'd never visited and Flipper had last been to as a school kid! We had a fun tour along with one other family and then plemty of time to take pictures afterwards with no -one else around.
The holds and below deck quarters were wonderfully restored. The kids were fascinated by the latrine and the "poo rope" (apparently a rough hemp rope is suitable for bottom wiping ?!) and the captain's quarters were decidedly luxurious. Not quite as impressive as Captain Pugwash's perhaps...
The Ship's Mate who took our tour had all the kids scrubbing the decks. He inspected each kids work and praised them all. When he got to P, who was last in line, he jokingly barked that his work was terrible, a disgrace to his ship and crew. Everyone, including P, laughed. But a moment later I could see his chin trembling and the little gulping movements of trying really hard not to cry. Oh, he wouldn't last a day at sea, this sensitive little creature of mine.
But he's nothing if not resilient. Only a few moments later he was telling the Ship's Mate slash Tour Guide all about Tom. How he's the one who always saves the day and rescues the ship and its crew. And then how it was Book Week, how he is Tom, and his mum made his costume.
Then, not to be outdone, A pipes up about how I made her hat and coat too. Bless them both! :)
Sadly, we weren't allowed to send him up the rigging - he seriously would have loved to climb the mast - but he did have fun hamming it up for photos and this was a rare photoshoot were the kid keeps directing the photographer to "take one more like this".
We got some pretty hammy poses, but I also love the skyscrapers that are rising out of the sea to starboard!
I had a lot of fun with this. I love books, love costumes and love sewing. We all had a few nights worth of dinner table conversations about book characters. What is literature and what counts as a book character. We all agreed that colouring book style merchandise from a film does NOT count as a book. There were too many ideas to keep track of them all for next year. Just one point to remember and that is to consider the weather.