Upcycle Girl's H&M Dress into Woman's Retro Halter Top & Hemming Vintage Zebra Skirt

Updated: Aug 31, 2020



Lion King Jr.

Animal Prints

OY!!!! More Animal Costumes???

Animal Leftovers

I Got Hit Over the Head with the Dolce&Gabbana Spring/Summer 2020 Collection

The 'Before's'

The Girl's H&M Zebra Dress Upcycle Into a Woman's Retro Halter Top

The Hemming of a Zebra Wrap Skirt

The Final Pictures

Next Upcycle

Links to Similar Projects


Lion King Jr.

When my daughter was in 6th grade (she's now 17 years old), she performed one of the lead roles in Lion King Jr. at her school as Nala.

Even though school productions were on the lower budget side, the kiddos didn't even notice, and when it was show-time, the lights, microphones, globbed on make-up, 'good-enough' costumes, and overall performance excitement, gave the audience the semblance of a Broadway quality production (after all the audience consisted of parents, grandparents, aunt, uncles and other enthusiastic family members there to see their child!)

Lion King Jr., final bows

At about this time, when the school announced it's annual musical, I was starting to attract attention as a costumer designer because I had just launched my costume rental business Costume Take-Out. I was in and out of my daughters' school regularly because I was delivering Pioneer, American Colonial, Ancient World, and other costumes, for the active historical learning days.

So naturally, I felt inclined to help out with the Lion King Jr. play. However, I had not intention to do almost the entire cast of costumes. And the teacher-directors never assumed I would.

What tipped my participation into lead designer and coordinator was watching these amazing teachers volunteer their after-school time year after year, to put an incredible experience together for these sweet, eager children.

my daughter as Nala

Animal Prints

With only 6 months sewing lead time, I had to quickly jump in and get cracking.

Since I was going to donate the cost of the textiles and my time, I hit the thrift stores hard. I had to find as many leopard, cheetah, giraffe, zebra, and African style colored fabrics as I could. I had about 50 kiddos to dress. Thankfully we have one 'last call' 'bin' style thrift outlet where everything is purchased by the pound. At that time it was $1.29/lb.

lioness costumes, ALL thrifted textiles!!!

I started with my leads Simba, Nala, the parents, the hyennas, Rafiki, Timon and Zazu. And already I was running out of time.


I realized I needed help--a ton of it! There was no way I could make all the Wildebeast and Hyena ensemble costumes, and how about the other ensemble animals like the monkeys, gazelles. or elephants??? And thankfully, there were plenty of parents who offered to help. I was in costume overdrive and I still had to make the Lionesses & Grassland costumes.

By the grace of higher powers, many sleepless nights, a supportive family, and just crazy determination, I accomplished quite an amazing feat!

And I vowed NEVER to make animal costumes Ever again! Never!

I told my daughter she was not allowed to do any musicals that had animals as main characters. Then her next production was Jungle Book, Jr.

OY!!!! More Animal Costumes???

However, I tapped out early in the beginning telling the directors that I can only create Ka, the snake. And that was a HUGE project. Turned out amazing! I was responsible for my daughter's costume but I lucked out--black body suit and leggings and a snake skin wrap.

my daughter as Ka, Jungle Book Jr.

Ah, I almost forgot, there was another animal musical the Aristocats Jr.! My daughter had the lead as Duchess. And I made all those 'lead' costumes as well. But truly after this, I was done, done, done with animals.

my daughter as Duchess, Aristocats Jr.

Animal Leftovers

Ok that sounds gross...

But I am talking fabrics.

I had a T O N of it leftover.

This picture below isn't even the half of it!!!

Lion King Jr. animal leftovers

Bags and bags of leftover animal prints and fabrics....sitting in my garage for 6 years....

And I was about to donate it all, but then

I got hit over the head with the Dolce & Gabanna Summer 2020 collection!

Unfortunately I can't post their proprietary photos here, but click on the video photo I took below to take you to my "Animal & Jungle" Pinterest board and the D&G Summer 2020 collection.

Take Me To StyleMyThrift "Animal & Jungle" Pinterest Board, Click Below:

Take Me To Dolce & Gabbana Summer 2020 Collection:

PS I know I can't be these beautiful young 20 year old models, but I can play dress-up and just pretend. This Upcycle is a combination of Literal translations of a Zebra print with a hint of Retro for a more Editorial look.

And you tell me if you see D&G's influence on my Zebra/Jungle/Africa inspired Upcycle.

This D&G collection has actually inspired more of my future Fall/Autumn Upcycles! I'll remind you when I post them!


I've Talked Your Ear Off By Now...

I think it's Time To:


The 'BEFORE-s'

So what you do you think of my "Before" items below?

The Skirt

There's no explanation needed for why I bought this Kelly-Green Zebra Skirt!! It was a awesomely campy and whimsical...quality perfect...and cost me barely anything. I saw an Emerald in the rough with this skirt. Not much needed to be done, except it needed to be hemmed. So with the skirt you you will just witness a minor hem alteration.

You might argue, geeze a perfect little black tank goes perfectly with the skirt, and it does...but I wanted to go LITERAL on this outfit! Usually I am against literal--to me literal in this context means 'what you'd expect'.

I sent out this collage to several of my Facebook Groups, and was curious to see what ladies would chose for me to upcycle into a blouse/top for this skirt.

You can take a look:

Very few individuals chose #6, which is what I had chosen already. All these items came from the Lion King Jr. bag of misfits.

What was #6?

My daughter's dress from H&M size 12 childrens. Yes! It's a young girl's dress flipped upside down.

The Blouse!

What kind of blouse/top will I make?

I chose to go with a vintage styled halter top. Only because I was somewhat limited by the amount of fabric.

Let's Get Started!



Halter Top


This is an H&M size 12Y girl's dress from 6 years ago.

My challenge was to make a blouse/top out of limited amount!

One way to use this little dress in a smart way was to use the built-in elastic waist as the halter top's across-the-chest waistband.

1st Step--Remove Zippers

  • Remove decorative zippers, belt-loops and tags.

2nd Step--Cut off Skirt

  • 2.1 Use ruler to chalk in a line.

  • 2.2 Give yourself enough fabric to fold over to form new top border.

  • 2.3 Be brave and cut!

3rd Step--Try On

  • Take skirt and see if you can fit over shoulders.

It Worked!

4th Step--Finish Halter Top Border

  • 4.1. Take raw edge to old elastic edge to create tube.

  • 4.2.Pin tube.

  • 4.3. Sew tube.

  • 4.4. Make small hole to insert elastic.

  • 4.5. Use safety pin to guide elastic through tube and sew when elastic overlaps.

  • 4.6. Double check progress.

5th Step--Shorten Top/Blouse

  • 5.1. Decide how much length to take off.

  • 5.2. Pin new waistline on skirt waist (this one is high waist!)

  • 5.3. Chalk up a line.

  • 5.4. Cut 4 inches longer than new border for double elastic waistband.

6th Step--Double Elastic Waistband

  • 6.1. Overlock stitch the hem of blouse.

  • 6.2. Fold over hem and make tube.

  • 6.3. Measure waistband and cut 2 same size elastic pieces.

  • 6.4. Feed elastic through first tube.

  • 6.5 Sew elastic edges.

  • 6.6 Stitch down first elastic mini tube and then repeat process for 2nd elastic piece.

7th Step--Decide Strap Style

  • Determine sleeves, straps, cap sleeves, halter tie??

I Decided halther straps because #1 I don't like strapless looks and #2 sleeves would be overwhelming with the zebra print.

8th Step--Make Halter Straps

  • 8.1. Chalk a strip of fabric from scraps to make straps.

  • 8.2. Roll-hem the edges of the strap.

  • 8.3. Hot press down new edges.

  • 8.4. Fold under ends and stitch down.

  • 8.5. Gather stitch the pressed edge.

  • 8.6. Stitch down straps on the 2 front attachment sites.

Halter Top COMPLETE!



Hem Skirt


9th Step--Pin Skirt

  • Pin the hem of the skirt for desired length.

10th Step--Hem Skirt

  • 10.1. Mark hem. I chose the lowest zebra hoof. I did not want to disrupt the animals.

  • 10.2. Cut 2 inches below.

  • 10.3. Press down the line below the hooves.

  • 10.4. Roll under once more and press.

  • 10.5. Use blind hem stitch.

  • 10.6. Press final hem.


Ready To See How This Turned Out?

And Guess What?




I won't, even on the cusp of 50!

I can't decide who I want to be yet : )



Here's a sneak peak of the next Upcycle & Refashion!



Links To Other Combo-Cycles:

Refashioned Neon Jeans &

Upcycled Puffy Sleeved Cobalt Blue Blouse

Refashion Old Navy Romper &

Upcycle 90's Dress