Tutorial: How to Make a Ghostly Vintage Doll


Every time I go to the thrift store I notice that they are well stocked with porcelain vintage dolls. I think it was just a thing girls did for awhile there, collecting these dolls to sit on a shelf in their room. I wonder how many more there are out there, just sitting in basement storage.

Let’s free them from storage this Fall! We will give them the chance to shine at least one month a year instead of spending all year, every year in boxes.

Start with a vintage doll that has a yellowing dress, age-eaten shoes, messy hair, facial scratches, and above all, a display stand.

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Step 1: Fix doll hair


Get a empty spray bottle and pour in some liquid fabric softener.

Spray lightly on doll’s hair and comb. Repeat as necessary.

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Step 2: Coloring hair


Wrap the doll in newspaper. Be sure to cover all parts of the doll that you do not wish to spray paint.

Spray hair lightly with white spray paint.


Step 3: Give the doll ghostly make-up


First, give her a chalky complexion by giving her a thin coat of white.

Mixing black and a touch of white, darken area around her eyes.

Adding a touch of red to the grey, color her lips.

Basic acrylic paint will do the job for these steps. Plus, there is the added bonus of being able to wipe the paint off and try again when you are not happy with the results.

(You can bet I took advantage of that!)

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Step 4: Start her haunting dress


A black polyester men’s shirt was used to make the haunting dress of this girly ghost. It worked well because raw edges did not unravel so easily.

Lay the doll’s original dress on top of 2 layers of fabric, allowing room to make the new dress longer.


Use the width and length of the torso of old dress as a guide to cut new fabric as shown below.



Step 5: Sew her haunting dress


Putting right sides together, sew some shoulders in the top corners of the squared part of the fabric.

Take a good guess how much room sleeves will take. Leave that space open for inserting sleeve and sew the outer seam the rest of the way down both sides of dress.

Cut two rectangles of fabric for sleeves, taking into account the space that was left on dress for sleeves and room for the hem. Cut them both out on a fold.

Sew the long sides of the sleeve rectangles together. Turn them right side out. Set them inside the arm holes, using a needle and thread to stitch them in.

Turn the dress right side out.

Cut a slit in the front, no longer than an inch. Put the dress on doll and make the slit longer if desired.

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Step 6: Finish skirt


Trim the bottom of the dress. This gal got a dress cut with the front much shorter, and with a short train in the back.

Create the additional layer of skirt by using some old chiffon or other light fabric. Cut out a rectangle and rip the edges. Baste the top and gather. Stitch it right onto the doll’s soft cloth body exactly where the extra layer of skirt is required.


Step 7: More finishing touches

Cut the edges of the arms ragged.

Fill in behind the bodice slit of dress with a piece of the chiffon. It can be secured in same way as extra skirt layer.

Using a red piece of embroidery floss and an embroidery needle, create lacing over the slit in dress opening.

Pull her wired arms forward in a haunting pose.


She is now a friendly haunting spirit that can visit the home each fall.

I hope you have enjoyed my first refurbish tutorial and have been inspired to do your own refurbishing project. Happy upcycling!


One response to “Tutorial: How to Make a Ghostly Vintage Doll

  1. Pingback: Dolls on Parade | Upcycle Shed·

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