Pirate Kaylee Frye

Pirate Kaylee Frye

(initial posting 11/9/19)

I was at the 2018 Boynton Beach Pirate Fest and ran into a friend who I know is also a Firefly fan; I've seen him cosplaying it with his friends at Cons more'n once. He suggested it might be fun sometime to have a cosplay meetup doing Firefly + pirate mashups. So that set the wheels turning... And my wheels, of course, turned toward Kaylee Frye.

In general, when doing mashups, it's important to have the parts be very clear. My original Kaylee costume wasn't screen-accurate enough to be very useful for pirate-izing. But I had recently purchased commercially-made Kaylee "Teddy Bear" overalls that would probably work out real well. (I'm not especially fond of teddy bears, nor of that particular outfit of Kaylee's, but they were on a really good sale from ThinkGeek (iirc) so I couldn't resist.) And of course, I already had a number of pieces from my pirate cosplays that could be useful. The boots would hide the issue I had with the overall's legs being bit short. A belt would be useful for carrying things, as well as holding my Firefly flask and maybe my faux sword (and hey, Kaylee actually wore a belt in the movie (pic at left)).

I did have to think a bit more about the shirt. The shirts I've worn for regular Kaylee weren't very piratey. But when I thought about the shirt I used for pirate costume 1 (pic at right), it seemed just perfect: good colors, print kinda looks like flowers, and I think Kaylee would love the ruffles.

So, it was easy putting together from the neck down. What about the rest? When I'm a regular pirate, I like my pirate hat for keeping the sun off my face, but that hat doesn't seem right for Kaylee. The Kaylee-brella parasol would be perfect to provide sun protection in a reasonably piratey way. But what should I do with my hair? Just having the hair loose or in 2 mini-buns didn't seem sufficient.

My first idea was to make some kind of a feather hairpiece, to be kind of suggestive of feathers on a pirate hat. I could picture a basic design that was like a chopstick that I could stick in the hair (probably through one of the mini-buns), with feathers flaring off one end and a chinese coin hanging off the other. I already had the necessary materials; I just needed to make it. But whenever I'd try to start working on it, I'd start wondering if there wasn't some way I could work it to help disguise my too-high hairline. Not coming up with a good answer, I'd get discouraged and lose enthusiasm for the project.

Eventually it occurred to me that maybe I should just give up on the idea of the feathers, and instead just go with a head scarf, like a do-rag. That would be piratey, and seemed an appropriate choice considering Kaylee's position as mechanic on the ship. But what should the scarf fabric look like? A regular bandana? No. Something in Kaylee colors? Maybe. Then I remembered that I had seen Firefly-related fabrics available online. Thinking maybe someone had already turned such fabrics into a suitable scarf, I googled "Firefly serenity bandana" and found quite a few! I found one I liked for less than $10 and got it.

I wore it at Pirate Fest in October 2019, and this seems to be the best pic I got.

Sherry R in pirate Kaylee cosplay

Although I do need to think about my poses more (it would've been better if we could've seen the teddy bear patch), I'm very pleased with the look--from the neck down. I'm not totally happy with the head scarf, though. But I have some ideas about how I might do it better... next time!

(following added 11/20/22)


Kaylee Frye enjoys eating a strawberry It seemed to me that the head scarf looked a bit too much like my regular hair, so my basic idea was to change it up. I thought if I could find a nice print with strawberries on it, that would be very appropriate for Kaylee and also provide more contrast. I spent a while poking around online looking for such a scarf, or fabric so I could make my own scarf, without spending too much. Eventually I ordered this fabric that seemed like it'd be perfect:

strawberry patterned fabric

Alas, the scale of the pattern was not clear from the listing, and when I got it I was suprised at how small the print was, more like some kind of generic calico print rather than actual strawberries. Still, I went ahead and made 2 styles of scarves (large square and long rectangle) to try out. However, I wasn't really happy with how they ended up looking. The small print didn't "read" from a distance, and the combination of red and green just looked kinda muddy instead. (I did end up using some of the fabric to make a face mask for when I cosplayed with Kaylee's brown coverall at PalmCon, and I felt it did work well for that.)

I still thought strawberry print was a good idea, though--I just needed to pay more attention to the scale and the color combo. More poking around online, and I eventually found a nice pre-made bandana that was mostly red on etsy. All this time, I'd also been checking out various styles for tying scarves, thinking maybe I could find one with 2 knots that might vaguely resemble Kaylee's iconic double-bun style. Although I didn't really find one, I did experiment with various methods for tying the new bandana when I got it. Somewhat suprisingly, it was what is probably the simplest method, of just folding into a triangle and tying under the hair in back (I guess one might call it the basic kerchief style), that I thought looked best.

I wore the updated cosplay to Camelot Days in November 2022, and am quite pleased with the result:

Sherry R in pirate Kaylee Frye cosplay, updated

Depite the fact that I wasn't carrying the parasol (it was a bit too windy and I didn't want to risk damaging it), I had quite a lot of people recognize the costume, and and a couple of folks even complimented the strawberries!

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