Haunted Dolls Make the Creepiest Halloween Display

What’s the best way to welcome trick-or-treaters? At my house, kids will be greeted by a collection of haunted dolls staring into their souls.

I dressed up my grandma’s antique dolls in Halloween costumes to create a frightening display just inside my front door. Only knock if you dare!

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Haunted Dolls Halloween Makeover

Watch these haunted dolls get a Halloween makeover in the video, and keep reading below for details.

Finding Haunted Dolls

I inherited these dolls from my grandma Julie. She LOVED her dolls, so I wanted to protect them, but I also wasn’t sure how they would fit into my very modern house.

Grandma Julie with her antique dolls

Then the ghouls of Halloweens past shrieked out to me, and I realized these dolls would make the perfect holiday display.

Are they haunted? Look into their eyes and decide for yourself.

Grandma's antique dolls before their makeover

If you don’t already have haunted dolls, I recommend a trip to the Goodwill or another thrift store. You can find old dolls at a reasonable price, and they often come with doll stands to use in your final display.

Preparing the Fabric

To make the costumes look as disturbing as the dolls, it’s important to age and distress the fabric first.

You want your dark fabrics to fade and your light fabrics to darken. I focused on yellowing the white fabrics to get that antique look.

Giving white cotton and lace an aged look by dyeing it in tea

You can do this in a tea bath on the stove. Boil four quarts of water and add about eight tea bags, or the amount needed for your desired color. No eye of newt required.

Soaking times vary, since different fabrics pick up the color at different rates. My lace only took a few minutes, while the cotton looked better after 20.

Lace and cotton fabric dyed in tea to look antiqued

When you are happy with the color, carefully pull the fabric out with tongs, put it in a bowl and rinse it in cold water.

Some fabrics might need additional distressing. For instance, my polyester satin was way too shiny and new. I scraped 120-grit sandpaper across the satin to rough it up and make it look old.

New satin fabric (left) compared with distressed satin fabric (right)

With your aged fabric ready to go, it’s time to create the doll costumes!

Haunted Ghost Doll

A ghost costume is a good beginner project, since it can be fairly simple. I gave my ghost a sleeveless white dress underneath, with a lace ghost costume on top.

I left holes for her arms so she could hold a flickering candle lantern.

Haunted ghost doll holding a black candle under a Halloween tree

Related: How to make this Halloween tree with candle lanterns

Sheer fabric enhances the creepiness, allowing the doll to peer back at you.

This Chantilly lace came from Jo-Ann Fabric. I lined up the scalloped edges to create a delicate train around the bottom. Pretty, but haunted.

Note: I made these costumes freehand style by shaping them to the dolls as I worked. If you prefer to use a pattern, you can probably find all sorts of Halloween patterns to fit your dolls.

Mischievous Vampire Doll

Your vampire doll requires lots of chic details, like a black veil fascinator or sassy cape.

I started with a puffy vampire shirt adorned in lace ruffles and paired with a distressed satin pencil skirt.

Vampire and devil doll as Halloween decorations

Her outstretched arms were begging for a vampire cape, so I gave her a semi-circle capelet held up by elastic around the wrists.

I found the red jewel in my grandma’s things and added a black cord to make a necklace.

Closeup of the vampire doll with black veil fascinator, red jewel necklace and black capelet

Finally, the veil fascinator is this doll’s signature piece. I sewed and glued black tulle to an alligator clip, added black satin twirled into a rose shape, and clipped it into her hair.

Little Devil Doll

Four out of five hellhounds agree that this doll is possessed. He clearly had to be my devil doll.

Devil doll with red bonnet and horns

I gave him a floor-length gown with a cape tied around his neck by a red ribbon. Then I stuffed the horns with polyester fiber fill, hot glued them shut, and glued them to the bonnet.

To make a pitchfork, glue some sticks together, wrap them in raffia and glue the raffia down.

Spooky Witch Doll

Halloween Fact: No one has ever been scarier than the Wicked Witch of the West. So I modeled my witch’s dress after Almira Gulch, Dorothy’s dog-hating neighbor who becomes the Wicked Witch.

Her dress had pleats and old-fashioned buttons down the front with pleated ruffles along the bottom. Shudders. I used an iron to create the pleats, then sewed them to the skirt.

Witch doll in black dress with broom and hat for Halloween decoration

And any respectable witch doll needs a broom and hat. For the broom, glue some dead grasses to a stick and wrap that with raffia.

For the witch’s hat, cut a ring from cardboard and glue satin around it. Then sew a cone shape, stuff it with fiber fill and glue it to the ring. Elastic holds it in place, and the result will fuel your nightmares for weeks to come.

Evil Clown Doll

Some people would say any clown doll is going to be scary. But I think you can increase the horror with aged fabric and dingy ruffles, avoiding any happy colors and signs of cheer.

Creepy clown doll in a black and white jumper with a pointy hat and ruffles

I made a black and white jumper split down the middle, along with a pointy, ruffled hat. And it helps if it looks like your doll’s eyes are bleeding.

Haunted Doll Display

For the final display, I pinned a gray sheet around a sideboard table, topped with a small tablecloth made from distressed satin. I tied up the corners with gray ribbon bows.

Haunted looking dolls on display for Halloween

My Halloween tree sets the mood, with flickering candles hanging above the ghost doll and her lantern below.

I arranged the remaining dolls across the table, aided by doll stands. Now all of my trick-or-treaters will be welcomed by these haunted dolls in my entryway.

Antique stuffed doll made with red and white polka dot fabric
Scary dolls on display for Halloween, dressed up in costumes

Grandma Julie would have loved it!

Haunted Halloween doll display - ghost, clown, witch, vampire and devil doll
Haunted doll display for Halloween - ghost, vampire, devil, clown and witch doll

4 thoughts on “Haunted Dolls Make the Creepiest Halloween Display”

  1. Haunted doll Display looks great! Love all the attention to detail…very creative..(awesome “how to” video!) (I am familiar with the tea dying as people do that to cross stitch fabric to age it.) How many movies have there been with scary dolls? A “few” and the dolls can scare the crap out of you..right?! It was a great idea to use the dolls this way…very “haunting”!


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