Thursday, February 18, 2021

Making a Quick (and Very Imperfect) Zebra Costume For My Daughter

I had a hard day today, and that sucked because it was my birthday. I had no energy for pretty much anything. And then I was reminded that my daughter Rose needed to have a costume to wear for a costume party next week, and she's leaving to her dad tomorrow and I won't be seeing her again before the party. To be honest, I did know about this need for a costume a few days ago, but first stores that sold costumes were closed because of the lockdown, then once they opened we were having bad weather and then snow, and everything was shut down, so I couldn't go out to buy her a costume even if I wanted to.

I had an idea to make her a costume with a silver dress she had and make her into either the tin man or an astronaut but she nixed those ideas. She also didn't want to be a fairy or a mermaid which I had good clothes for her to use for those costumes. So we decided to go through my clothes and see if there was anything I could use to make her a costume, and I rediscovered my black and white striped dress that was ripped (and I wasn't super thrilled as to how it looked on me).

 I asked Rose if she wanted to maybe be a zebra, and she said that was a great idea. Her sister had some animal ears and a bow tie and a tail that were black and white striped as well (probably intended to be a cat, to be honest) and she said she could use that together with the black and white striped dress for her zebra costume.

So I ripped off the black upper part of the dress (that was falling off the skirt anyhow) and was left with this black and white striped skirt.

I had no idea how I'd be making the costume. I'm not so great at sewing, I had minimal energy, minimal time, and I'd be doing it all by hand.

I tried putting the skirt on her to see how it would fit over her body and thought at first to keep the skirt entirely as one piece and just cut out the bits in red below and hem them there to make sleeves, because sleeves (and necklines) are what I have absolutely no idea how to sew, and figured this would work in a pinch.

However, after measuring the skirt on her I removed the elastic at the top, then folded over the skirt so it would fit more tightly around her neck, and realized that once I did that it made the skirt much more narrow and there really would be no room for sleeves and the bottom of the dress with the skirt. 

And so, I needed a new way to do this. 

I cut down the back of the skirt from the top and made the two parts overlap each other to make the top smaller, and realized that it made a weird bulge at the back, and while I was loath to do extra sewing (mind you, doing this all by hand) I realized that I needed to cut out a panel at the back of the skirt part of the dress and then sew it back together.

But no worries, that extra bit of fabric would be used to make sleeves.

After sewing the neckline together and tacked the back together, I cut out arm holes for my daughter.

I then cut the extra bit of fabric in half lengthwise and shortened them, and tested them out, and they were the perfect shape and size for sleeves. I then sewed a quick stitch across the length and flipped them inside out, and voila, sleeves.

Or sleeves that were completely separate from the dress anyhow.

I slid them over Rose's arms and honestly wanted to just attach them to the top of the dress because I have no idea how to make sleeves, but Rose wanted the fully attached all the way including the underarms.

So I did that. Very, very carefully.

And very badly.

But at least they were attached.

Then Rose tells me "I look like someone in jail" and I told her that I realized that as well, but hoped she wouldn't notice. (It was much more apparent once the sleeves were on.) I told her she could be a zebra in jail, and we laughed, and she said she still thinks it's a cool zebra costume.

Ok, crisis averted.

I then hemmed the sleeves to the proper length, finished sewing the back of the dress together, added the tail, and voila, sewing is done.

Rose put on the dress, the ears, the bow tie, and I used eyeliner and a silver thick pencil to attempt to make zebra stripes on her face. Rose had the idea to put her hair behind her head in a series of small ponytails so that it looked like a mane.

Ok, the makeup could have been better. I should have made her a black muzzle. But this was just trying it out.

And I think she looks ridiculously adorable.

She made this expression when I was taking the picture because she said zebras do that with their lips.

This costume won't win me any awards, and I'll probably end up finding this costume on those "Why did you craft that?" pages on the web, but I don't care.

I have a happy daughter. She has a costume to wear. I used what I had in the house. It took less than an hour start to finish. And somehow my sanity remained intact. (Or as intact as it was to begin with.)

And that's what matters. Happy kids, not perfect costumes.


  1. Actually, it's a great costume! And a good lesson in quick thinking.

  2. The bow or bow tie makes the outfit. It just exudes fun imo.

  3. That is adorable, love it. Great thinking.

  4. "Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good"( attributed to Voltaire)
    Very well done on counts of creativity and frugality!

  5. Oh, that feeling of digging deep when you have no energy or desire... I think you did a great job! It sounds like you and Rose had fun together and she felt cared for and heard.


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