Every year for Halloween I try my best to make the biggest impact I can with the costumes for the least amount of work and money – it’s a necessity with 3 kids. Some years I’ve found great deals on Ebay or at Goodwill and gotten a store bought costume (my littlest will wear his big brother’s skunk costume this year which was an awesome Ebay find). Other years I’ve made key elements paired with some items we already had to make a really fun costume. You can see the costumes I’ve made in the past here.
This year my 4 year old daughter asked me to turn her into a zebra. I had planned on finding a white hoodie and sweat pants to paint but wasn’t finding anything. I ran into Walmart to see if they would happen to have some and instead found the perfect thing…someone else already did the work for me and made a fleece zebra sweat suit! I am not a big fan of most animal prints and zebra print particularly can be hard on my eyes unless done in small doses but for actually dressing up to BE a zebra, it’s perfect! Of course my daughter was content to just wear that to pretend to be a zebra but I knew we could do a bit more work and make it really cute. And she was using a snake plush stuffed into the back of her pants as the tail…and that wasn’t gonna work long term.
A great thing about this costume is that by changing the color and making the mane longer it could easily become a horse costume. And then if you make a horn and add that on top it can be a unicorn!
To make a zebra costume you’ll need:
Zebra hoodie and pants I found mine at Walmart for about $13. If you can’t find ones already made you could find a white outfit and either paint black stripes or use black duct tape to put stripes on.
Comfortable black shoes
1/4 yard zebra pattern fleece
1/4 yard black fleece
Small amount of white fleece
Hot glue gun
Cardboard…can be from cereal box or anything from your recycling can
1 sheet white card stock
Templates for head, ears, eyes, and muzzle
Cut everything out.
From the zebra fleece:
-2 ears facing opposite directions
-1 tail rectangle – 8″ x 3 1/2″
-2 faces, with one cut about an inch bigger all the way around so it can fold over to the back of the cardboard. (It doesn’t have to be perfect, just eye ball it. The edges will be hidden.)
From the black fleece:
-1 tail tip -5″ x 5″ piece
-1 mane -10″ x 20″ piece
-2 eyes facing opposite directions
From the white fleece:
-2 ears facing opposite directions
From card stock:
-2 ears cut a bit smaller than the fleece ones
Make the Ears
Place one white piece and one zebra piece right sides together. Stitch around, leaving the straight edge at the bottom open. Repeat one more time for the other ear. Clip the curves and the top of the ears seen in picture above. Turn the ears right side out.
Cut out two ear pieces in card stock making them about a quarter inch smaller all the way around. I had to cut a little extra off the bottom making it about 4 inches tall. Place each piece inside the ear. It will make the ear bend a bit and help it to stand up straight when worn. After the card stock is in I put a big dot of hot glue at the bottom middle to press hold the sides together and give it that zebra ear shape. I waited to do this until I was glueing the face together.
Make the Mane
Zebras’ manes are actually striped but I thought the black would be a nice contrast so it wouldn’t just blend in with all the other stripes.
Fold the large black rectangle in half (hot dog style as seen above) then fold it in half again. Sew a line along the edge of the folded side.
On the side that was not sewn there will be a folded edge and two raw edges. Cut the fold open so that there are four raw edges. Then cut slits all the way down to make the hair.
Make the Tail
Roll the small black fleece square onto itself. Lay the zebra tail fleece rectangle right side up and put the rolled black square on top of it in the middle with the edges lined up.
Fold the zebra fleece over the black fleece with right sides together. It will make a little burrito. Sew carefully along the long open edge and the side where the black fleece goes to the edge. Make sure to not sew the black fleece in the long side, only the bottom edge where the two ends are. Leave the other end open.
Turn it right side out. Cut slits in the black fleece to make the hair and shape it to come to a point if you like.
Make the Face
I used cardboard from toy packaging but a cereal box would work great too. Just something to help the face not flop down over the child’s eyes. Bend the cardboard to make it rounded.
Glue with hot glue the bigger zebra fleece onto the front of the face. Glue the black muzzle and black eyes.
Note: Please be careful with the hot glue! I have been using hot glue forever but burned three of my fingers doing this and one of my thumbs has a big blister!
Cut slits around the fabric that is hanging past the cardboard. You can see this in the pictures above. This will make it easier to turn it over and glue it down on the back without lumps. Use the hot glue to glue all those slits down on the back. Do the same thing with the muzzle.
Glue the smaller zebra fleece on the back to cover up all the overhang on the back. Glue the muzzle down on the back and trim the extra off. This way if any of the bottom is showing it will still look nice. (The picture above is of the back.) This was also helpful because I was able to attach the head to the hoodie using safety pins to attach the fleece on the back.
Now that you have all the pieces you can choose how to assemble it. I had thought about sewing the ears and mane on but decided to try just safety pinning them and it ended up working great. Hot gluing is an option as well. It depends on if you want to be able to use the clothes again for another purpose.
First, I put the hoodie on my daughter to see where the face should be on the hood. Once I got that I used two large safety pins going through the hoodie and the back fleece of the face to hold it on.
Then I could play around with the ear placement. I just played with it until I found a spot that looked natural. At this point I also just had the hoodie sitting on my knee so that my daughter didn’t have to keep standing there and I could work it easier with all that maneuvering/pinning. I used 3 safety pins per ear to make them stand up the way I wanted them to. This took some trial and error but only took a few minutes.
I started the mane a little bit on the forehead of the zebra face and then followed the seam on the back of the hoodie. I made my mane long enough to go onto the back a bit but if you’d like yours to end at the neck you could just make it shorter. I put a safety pin through the hoodie and edge of the mane every few inches. To keep the “bangs” of the mane attached to the face I ended up hand sewing them onto the face fleece since I figured a safety pin would show.
Lastly, pin the tail to the back of the pants. I pinned mine just below the waistband.
And that is it! It looks like a lot when all written out step by step but it is actually pretty simple. Please let me know if you have any questions. And remember that fleece is very forgiving and hides lots of flaws. I didn’t pin anything when cutting or sewing it and didn’t cut perfectly straight lines and you’d never know.
And just because she’s too cute I’ll add a couple more pictures.
Ha, the donkey wanted to get a little taste of the zebra ear I think! Thought this was pretty funny. Congrats for making it this far in the post.
And this tutorial is part of a Halloween Craft Tutorial Link Up with 12 other Halloween crafty ideas! Thank you Alicia from Felt with Love Designs for organizing the link-up!
Bugs and Fishes // Family Living on a Budget // Felt With Love Designs
Good Critters // GYCT Designs // House Full of Boys
Hugs Are Fun // Knot Sew Normal // Mommy in Sports
My Pinterventures // The Nesting Spot // Woods of Bell Trees // Year of Sarah
20 thoughts on “Tutorial: Easy DIY Zebra, Horse, or Unicorn Costume”
Amazing craftiness! Definitely the most adorable zebra ever.
That’s fantastic. I would love to be able to do this. Must learn. 🙂
Thanks Jodie. So strange I commented yesterday on here to you but it’s not here now. Anyway, I’d be happy to teach you. You’ll enjoy it for sure!
I love the way the costume turned out!! She is SO CUTE!! Pinning it to my costumes board 🙂 Thank you for joining the link-up!!
Thanks, I enjoyed being a part of the link-up! And now the costume is done and I don’t have to do it the night before Halloween like would happen otherwise. 🙂
This is GREAT Jocelyn. I love it!
Thanks Georgianna! It was fun to figure how to do the head. My idea for it changed a few times.
How stinkin’ CUTE! Haha the donkey, that’s great!
Thank you! Yeah, that donkey was pretty funny!
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This is suuuch a cute idea! and your daughter is a little cutie patootie! thank you for the extra pictures of her! Ill save this idea for when i have kids! I am honestly addicted to zebras and have been one for the last 3 halloweens (even though im 25 🙂 your never too old to dress up! right?!) I also wanted a simple DIY costume when i first started, and luckily Target had adult footie pjs and they had a zebra one just my size!
I love how you did the face and ears. Im always adding to my costume and upgrading it every year, i just may have to use this for part of my upgrade this year!
Thanks! Nope, never too old to dress up! Glad you were able to get some ideas. And wouldn’t be that fun to one day see a little herd of zebras with you matching your kids with zebra costumes.
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I’m costuming a children’s play. Thanks for a great design!
Oh wow, how great! Have fun!
I’ve just finished the zebra costume for my daughter’s play at school and I just LOVE IT!!! (so does she 😁). Thank you so, so much for this tutorial, it is amazing 😉
That’s so great! I’m so glad it was helpful for you. It is always so satisfying to make something with your hands. You should be proud!
I’m a stay at home mommy of a 9 and 6 year olds. Im being begged to do a zebra and cheatah . Money is tight , so any help in learning how to do this will be amazingly appreciated.
I’m happy to help. Do you have any specific questions? I was able to make my zebra pretty cheaply because I found the zebra clothes at Walmart if I remember correctly. And then just buying the other pieces of fleece is a small cost as well.