DIY Cardboard Pirate Ship Tutorial

This DIY Cardboard Pirate ship is easy and cheap to make!

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Lets just start with me admitting to LOVING building costumes out of cardboard. I know, perhaps that’s not normal but it’s the cheapest way for me to give my children an original and super cool Halloween Costume.

Letting my boys choose what they wanted to be for Halloween was harder for me then I thought. This was the first year they had ideas of their own, I must admit I was a bit disappointed when they chose to be pirates.

I had other plans people! I can’t really blame them though. The costumes my boys are wearing came from costco, and what boy can resist a sword!

But once we got home this DIY cardboard pirate ship came to mind and I went full on crazy craft lady.

Click on the below picture to get a pirate costume to add to this Pirate Ship Project!

Check out these kids pirate costumes too.

To make a SMALLER VERSION of this Pirate Ship follow this TUTORIAL HERE.

Follow this tutorial and you too can be as crazy as me!

Step One, find a box 🙂

Once you have the box start tracing the two sides of the boat and cut the sides out.

Step Two:

Leave the back uncut and make the front of your boat low but flat.

Step Three:

Take the tall back part and fold it into the box creating a shelf. Everything is either super glued or taped with packing tape. I trust you can figure out which item to use at each stage.

Step Four:

Now tip the box so you are looking at the bottom. Trace the front part to a point and cut that part out.

Step Five:

Cut the two sides out of the base so it looks like this.

Step Six:

Cut down the center of the front of the box. OR If this is where your box has a seam pull it apart like I did in the photo below.

Step Seven:

Once you have taped the front portion together it should look like this.

Step Eight:

Cut part of the shelf out so it is easier to lean against it when wearing this cool pirate ship.

The bottom of the box should still look like the picture below, you don’t really need the front part still but the back portion is needed. So I hope you didn’t cut this part out yet!

Step Nine:

Now is the time to cut a hole out of the bottom so your child, or you can stand through the center of this DIY Cardboard Pirate Ship.


Step Ten:

This is a small part but I thought it important enough to take a picture! Cut a piece of cardboard this shape for the front of the ship.

Step Eleven:

Tape that adorable little piece to the front of your cardboard ship.

Now is when that “scrap” center piece of cardboard you cut out earlier comes into play.

Put it near the front of your ship and trace out a point, cut along the point.

Step Twelve:

Now take this piece you just cut out and tape it to the top front of this box as seen in the below photo:

Step Thirteen:

Test it out LOL! You have to have some fun too!!!

Step thirteen really is a run to the dollar store.

Dollar store items needed:

  1. Plastic swords or anything else to use for posts for the flags
  2. White poster board, I bought black as well but never used it
  3. Ash trays for the canon “windows” or anything else that could work
  4. One plastic table cloth in the color blue

Step Fourteen:

Ok, so the step count is up there but your children will love you for it I promise!

Cut out a ships wheel:

Step Fifteen:

For straps I used the handles of reusable grocery store bags. You could also just use strips of fabric. I attached these with hot glue and reinforced it with another piece of cardboard.

To make it comfortable I crisscross the straps at the back so it fits nice and snug when this DIY cardboard pirate ship is worn.

Step Sixteen:

It’s now time to attach the posts through the top cardboard and glue to the bottom “shelf” you left behind. It is also time to take a sharpie and start drawing rectangles to look like boards.

Attach the wheel with hot glue.

Attach the ash trays with Hot glue.

This smaller ship has a tutorial HERE, it is the easier version of this kids pirate costume!

Step Seventeen:

Make the sail out of the poster board and find clipart on google or pinterest of a skull to print out and attach to your sail before attaching it to the poll.

Step Eighteen:

Take that plastic blue table cloth and cut it up leaving the top two inches uncut. Then glue to the base of your DIY Cardboard Pirate Ship. This is of course the water!

Our boys LOVED their Pirate Halloween Costume with the addition of these ships!

We took them trick or treating and the boys looked ADORABLE!

So what do you think of this DIY Cardboard Pirate Ship?

Is this a halloween costume you will attempt to make? If you do let me know how it goes in the comment section!

If you want to make a smaller version click HERE to see the tutorial for an adorable mini me!

How to make a pirate ship costume out of cardboard

Please pin the above image to help others find this post too!

Welcome! I am Tamara and I love teaching beginner sewing projects.

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Leave a Comment


  1. Abbey wrote:

    On average, how long does making one of the pirate ship costumes take?

    Thank you,

    Posted 5.4.17 Reply
    • Tamara wrote:

      It took me a full afternoon to make the larger one. The smaller “ship” was much simpler and took a couple hours. Both time frames include “motherhood interuptions” lol!

      Posted 5.6.17 Reply
  2. Eva wrote:


    Did you use a specific scissor or box cutter for this project? Any special tips you’d like to share?


    Posted 3.1.19 Reply
    • Tamara wrote:

      I just used a pair of stronger scissors and then an old kitchen knife for some areas that were a bit harder. I actually found sawing the cardboard with the knife a bit easier then cutting everything. But be careful if you do that!

      Posted 4.18.19 Reply
  3. CJ Olson wrote:

    Love this! Nicely done and good instructions. Thank you

    Posted 6.5.20 Reply
    • Tamara wrote:

      Thank you! The best part was seeing my boys enjoy their costumes on halloween.

      Posted 6.5.20 Reply
  4. Alecs wrote:

    Thank you so much for your tutorial! I just made this for my 2 year old and it came out beautifully! I had my doubts about being able to get a working model, but I followed your instructions and I was surprised at how boat-like it turned out! Thank you so much! I’d love to share some photos with you!

    Posted 10.31.22 Reply
    • Tamara wrote:

      Your boat turned out beautifully! Thank you so much for sharing those photos with me. You did such a great job. I hope your son enjoyed it this halloween.

      Posted 11.1.22 Reply