July 5th is Build a Scarecrow Day, so why not scare up a little fun for the occasion? Scarecrows are now mainly seen around Halloween and fall harvest festivals, but it’s also a great summer project for your garden. Get your kids or even a few neighbors involved and make it a project for the whole block, especially if you can reuse scrap wood, old clothes, grass clippings and other odds and ends that you might find in your garage or basement.

Happy Scarecrow

Making a scarecrow is surprising straightforward.

1. Materials Needed

  • Old clothes such shirt, pants or overalls, old gloves or mittens, pillowcases or burlap sacks, old shoes or work boots
  • Hay, straw or grass and yard clippings for the stuffing
  • Scrap wood, old rake handles, unused garden poles, or even leftover pieces PVC pipes (1 piece approximately 5 feet long, the other 6-8 feet long for the frame)
  • Hot glue, duct tape or double sided tape (optional)
  • Twine or flexible wire (and wire cutters if you are using wire)
  • Scissors
  • Extra plastic shopping bags (this is a great way to reuse extras instead of throwing them away)
  • Paint, paintbrushes, markers and other items to decorate the scarecrow

2. Make the Frame

Attach the two pieces of scrap wood in a cross shape to make the frame. The shorter piece will be the arms of the scarecrow, so it should be near the top of the longer piece. Secure with twine, wire and hot glue, depending on the weight of the wood.

3. Make the Body

Thread the long sleeves of an old shirt through the shorter piece of the frame. Button it up and tie the ends, then stuff with straw, hay, grass clippings, rags or even plastic shopping bags. Don’t use newspapers as they may rot if they get wet. Tie off the bottom with the twine or wire.

Cut out a hole in the bottom of old pants or overalls so the vertical pole will fit through it. Tie off the leg openings and thread an old belt or piece of rope through belt loops. You can even use rope or an old long winter scarf, or a pair of old suspenders. Stuff the pants the same way as the shirt.

4. Hands and Feet

If you want to give your scarecrow hands, stuff old gloves or mittens and tuck them inside the sleeves of the shirt. Tie them with the twine or wire. For feet, tuck the pant legs into old boots or shoes, then attach them to the pants with duct tape, hot glue or even sew them together or your scarecrow will lose its feet.

5.  Make the Head

You can use an old burlap sack or even a pillowcase for the head. In the fall, consider making a jack-o-lantern for the the head (but don’t light it with a candle or your scarecrow will burn). First, stuff a plastic grocery bag with other plastic bags and tie it. Put it in the center of a piece of burlap (or cut open an old burlap sack). Draw a circle around the bag large enough so you can gather up the burlap around the bag, put the open end around the top of the vertical pole (the neck) and then push the bag all the way down so the pole goes through the stuffed bags. Tie securely with wire or twine.

If you are using a pillowcase, stuff the pillowcase half full. Use safety pins to partially close the opening, close to the stuffing, but not all the way. Place it on the vertical pole as above, and then tie it securely. You’ll have extra fabric, simply cut it away and remove the safety pins.

Other ideas: Use an old milk jug for the head. It’s easy to draw features on it, and it’s waterproof. Just tape it securely to the neck. Or, take an old bucket, impale it on the vertical pole and fill it with dirt. If you have a sturdy frame, you might even consider trying planting some grass or flowers in it and grow the scarecrow’s hair.

6. Finishing Touches and Accessories

Add facial features by drawing with markers, paints, or by hot gluing scraps of fabric or old buttons. Add hair by hot gluing straw, or use an old wig or mop head. Find an old hat to plop on the head. Get creative! Maybe he could use a bandana around his neck or sticking out of a pants pocket. Throw on some old Mardi Gras beads – you’re really only limited by your imagination.

Voila! You’ve got a handmade companion to put in your backyard garden now, and then come fall, he can “hang” around until after Halloween!


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