How to Make a Scarecrow – Add a Smile to your Garden

Make a scarecrow? Perfect! I love the practical approach to a Shaker garden, but this year, I wanted to ‘shake’ things up with a little fun and whimsy!

When you think of a scarecrow, you probably form a mental image of a cute rendition made with patchwork clothing, an old hat and straw for hair. It is probably displayed alongside a couple of hay bales, a bucket of gourds, a pot of chrysanthemums and maybe a bundle of dried corn stalks.  Altogether, these items come together to make lovely fall decorations.

But a scarecrow didn’t start out as a decorative item. Instead, they have been used for centuries as ‘garden guardians’, keeping birds from digging up and eating freshly planted seeds. They continued to protect the garden by deterring critters from getting in the garden and eating the fruits and vegetables just as they were getting ripe enough to harvest.

Some say to make a scarecrow is a waste of time, as it doesn’t do as much good as originally thought. But to me, they add a touch of fun and whimsy that I am looking for this year. So I decided to see if I could make a scarecrow and add him to my garden. If I am lucky, that crazy Mockingbird that hangs around to eat my tomatoes might just think twice this time!

Surprisingly, it was easier than I thought to make a scarecrow and didn’t take a lot of work or supplies. Are you ready to make a scarecrow for your garden? Put your creative thinking cap on and let’s get started!

Just know this ahead of time. This isn’t a ‘specific’ how to make a scarecrow post. It is designed to make you think and let your creativity and inner whimsy bubble to the surface and flow. With that in mind, this ‘how to’ doesn’t have is specific sizes. You can make your scarecrow any size you want, which means the dimensions for mine may be way too big. All you have to do is adjust each step accordingly.

How to Make a Scarecrow

The Planning

You can make a scarecrow as simple or creative as you want. It can be male or female, or if you are really creative, can be in the design of an animal, or even an abstract piece of artwork.

For mine, I wanted to use things I already had around the house, and not spend any money. So I started searching for supplies for a scarecrow.

how to make a scarecrow

Start with a Stand

To make a scarecrow, I knew I needed a stand, so my search led me to the barn where I found an 8’ 2”x4” board. Since I was using adult clothing, I knew the stand needed to be tall enough to fit the new scarecrow, and still have enough left over (approximately 18” to 24”) to stick in the ground and remain upright. An 8’ length would be perfect for him.

The Country Boy ripped the board in half lengthwise, creating 2 – 2”x2” that were 8’ long. He then cut one of the pieces to a 4’ length. From there, he cut notches where the pieces would join, and drilled a screw hole to hold them together.

The ‘T’ is joined towards the top of the stand, approximately 2’ (more or less, depending on the size of your finished scarecrow) from the top. This allows the head of the scarecrow to fit proportionately into the neck of the shirt.

Dress your Scarecrow

As a weaver, I often keep old clothing such as blue jeans and shirts. My original intention is to cut them in strips to use for weaving rugs and other projects. This time, I dug through my stash and came up with an old flannel shirt and a pair of blue jeans that were faded and almost threadbare. (I wanted to use a pair of the Country Boy’s over-alls, but he nixed that idea…sigh…)

I also needed something to use for a head, so I found a piece of muslin, and cut it to create a head large enough to fit the body I was planning on making.

I also needed something to tie the ends of the arms and legs together to keep the stuffing from falling out, so I located a spool of heavy jute twine.

Stuffing your Scarecrow

Your scarecrow can be stuffed with several different things, or a combination. Originally they were stuffed with straw or hay. If you don’t have that, you can use newspaper, old rags and clothing, or cotton batting.

Keep in mind, your scarecrow will be out in the weather. Newspaper, old clothes and batting can get soggy and begin to breakdown or shift, thereby distorting the shape of your scarecrow. If you use hay or straw, you can also pull a bit out of the arms, neck and legs to additional ‘decoration’.


The Body

Once you have your ‘T’, lay your shirt on the ground and place your stand in the center. Place one sleeve through one arm of the cross piece, and the other arm through the other side. Button up the shirt. Button and zip the jeans, then lay them on TOP of the cross bar and center them.  Be sure they come up to where you would tuck the shirt into the jeans. Remember, you want your shirt tucked in, but pulled out enough to give the appearance of a waist.

Mark the inseam where the cross bar should thread through the jeans. Lift the jeans and cut a 2” slit or hole in your mark. Lift the brace and thread it through the hole.  Pull the jeans up into position. Using safety pins, pin the jeans to the shirt temporarily. Once the scarecrow is stuffed, you will remove the pins.

how to make a scarecrow

Using twine, tie the ends of the arms and legs closed. You can simply wrap it and tie it off, or wrap it around several times and tie it off with a knot or bow and ‘tails’.

From here, begin to stuff your scarecrow. Start with the arms, and add as much straw as needed to give it a full appearance. Stuff the second arm, and then work your way into the shirt body.

Stuff each leg, then stuff the body of your jeans. Once you have the fullness you want, run a piece of twine through the belt loops and tie it off. Be sure to pull it a little tight to give definition to the waistline.

To Make the Head

Using the square of muslin, you can add straw to the center, then grab the corners together. Check periodically to make sure the size is in proportion to the body.  Add straw as needed, then using a piece of twine, pull the corners of the fabric together.

This part may need to people: Slide the head over the top of the stand, into the neck of the shirt. Wrap twine around the neck of the head several times, then tie securely with a knot. Adjust the collar and neck of the shirt around the head, tucking in any fabric of the head to hide the ends.

Decorate your Scarecrow

From this point forward, use your creativity to add personality to your scarecrow. You can draw and paint a face, or leave it blank. Add a bouquet of flowers to one hand. Perch a stuffed crow to one arm.

Hats are always a great addition to any scarecrow. It can be a ball cap, a cowboy hat or even a bonnet. Tuck a feather or flowers into the brim, or wire on a small bluebird to the stop or side.

No matter how you dress and design your scarecrow, allow your creativity, and the fun and whimsical side of you shine through!

Here’s a hint:

Want to keep your scarecrow up all year? Make a scarecrow that allows for adding seasonal touches – like a scarf and wool cap for winter, a bucket of small gourds hanging from his arm for fall, or a row of bluebirds across the arms for spring.

how to make a scarecrow

Did you Make a Scarecrow?

Be sure to share a photo of your scarecrow in the comments below. We all want to see how much fun your garden is going to be this year!

Want more whimsy in your garden? Stay tuned. I have a blend of practical items and whimsy coming up in the next posts!

Don’t Miss these Other posts on Shaker Gardening!

The Shaker Garden

Vegetables in a Shaker Garden

Herbs in a Shaker Garden

Make Your Own Seed Packets

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.


  1. Hi Julie, how cute and functional!! Thank you for an easy to follow tutorial. I’m pinning this.

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