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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Grandma Julie would have loved it!
4 thoughts on “Haunted Dolls Make the Creepiest Halloween Display”
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”!
Thanks, Judy! It was so much fun dressing up the dolls for Halloween. I think it will be very spooky for any visitors who stop by, and also for us every time we walk down the hall. I love how the tea dyeing turned out. I wanted the costumes to look as old as the dolls. Eric thinks the clown is the scariest. 😀
I also thought the clown was the scariest…kind of gives me the willies…think it might be the eyes…
Yes, the eyes are so creepy!