You should plan on including at least a few stuffed dummies in your haunted house! They are very versatile and easy to make. A stuffed dummy gives you not only instant victims, but also a base for some scary creatures. These make great scarecrows too.
Find old clothes. Go through your closets and drawers, check out garage sales, or shop at Goodwill and other second-hand stores. You will want a long sleeve shirt and a pair of pants for each dummy. If you can find an old shirt with a hood, this is even better!
Tuck the bottom hem of the shirt into the top of the pants and use safety pins or a simple running stitch to hold them together. Now, you simply stuff the clothes with wadded up newspaper until it is the size you want it. If your dummy is going to be outside for a while, you might prefer to stuff it with wadded up, plastic shopping bags. This way, your dummy won't weigh a ton if the newspaper should get rained on!
Tip: I have used straightened wire hangers inside the sleeves of a dummy. Run the wire hanger up one sleeve and down the other. This not only helps to make the arms more bendable, but it also gives the shoulders some more definition.
Hands and Feet
For the hands, you can either use surgical type gloves stuffed with Fiberfil or work gloves stuffed with newspaper or plastic bags. Either of these options work fine; however, the surgical gloves look a touch more realistic. Attach the hands to the ends of each sleeve with hot glue or safety pins. If you want to invest a bit more money, you can use a pair of spooky gloves purchased from a store.
For your dummy's feet, an old pair of shoes and socks are the perfect solution! I stuff the socks with newspaper and fit them into the shoe. You can then hot glue the shoes to the bottom edge of each pant leg. If your dummy will be sitting or standing, you usually don't even have to attach the shoe. You can just set them in place under each pant leg.
Trying to figure out how to make a head for your dummy is usually the most challenging part. You have a few options. The easiest and most expensive option is to buy a full head mask and stuff it with wadded up newspaper.
The most time consuming and probably the cheapest way to make a dummy head is by using paper mache' techniques! This is my favorite way because you can get more creative in the shape of the head and the facial features. Use these directions to make your paper mache' head.
There are a few other head making options you might prefer. First you can stuff and shape a pillowcase and draw or paint a face on it. You can also try to find some Styrofoam wig heads. Some places will make you pay for them, but sometimes you can get lucky and find stores who will give you some. You can also try to use large, plastic pumpkins or skulls.
Putting the Dummy Together
How you will attach your dummy's head is something else to consider. I had found what works well is using about a 2 foot long piece of dowel or lathe. Stick it into the neck hole of the shirt, and wiggle it down through the stuffing. Stick the head onto the other end of the dowel and gently wiggle it onto place.
Decide which method will work best for you or try them all and see which one gives you the results you want! The mask option might be perfect for a stuffed zombie, but probably wouldn't work for a dummy of a frightened victim! Get creative and have some fun!
One of the nice things about these dummies is that they are so versatile. They all start out the same way, but can easily become different things. They can be anything from frightening monsters to helpless victims. You can wrap a dummy in gauze or strips of muslin material to make it into a mummy. Another idea would be to recycle an old Halloween costume and mask by putting them on a dummy. There are many possibilities.
These dummies are great just lying around your yard or house. You can easily prop them up into chairs, etc. If you want to make yours standing, you can pound a 2 x 4 into the ground and slip the dummy onto it. Hide the 2 x 4 inside the backside of the clothes and attach it with a heavy-duty stapler. You could also try stuffing the body with PVC pipe to make it stiffer.