Spooktacular ghost craft fun for whole family

Jessica Young

Pumpkin carving isn’t the only hands-on Halloween project that the kids can participate in. Three-dimensional cheesecloth ghosts are a fantastic way to get crafty and spruce up the house with some homemade decorations.

With a quick pit stop to your local crafts store for some inexpensive materials, you’re well on your way to making a spooky apparition and keeping the little ones occupied. Here’s how:


2 packages of 2 square yards of Trimaco Cheesecloth: $2.29 each from Michaels

1 8-fluid-ounce bottle of Mod Podge Matte-Mat: $5.49 from Michaels; alternative is fabric stiffener

1 small square of black felt: $0.29 from Michaels (for a 9-by-12-inch square, which was the smallest piece offered)

12-inch white helium-quality balloon: $1.79 for a pack of 20 at Factory Card & Party Outlet

Small plastic bowl: $1.09 for a 24-ounce bowl at Factory Card & Party Outlet; alternative is an old margarine tub

Scrap piece of cardboard




Optional extras include plastic forks, straws, floral wire or aluminum foil


1. Cover your work surface with newspapers, thick construction paper or a washable plastic tablecloth.

2. Blow up a balloon, inflating it to the desired size for your ghost’s body.

3. Using a pair of scissors, poke a small hole into the center of the piece of stiff cardboard.

4. Pull the balloon end through the hole in the cardboard and tape it down on the under side. This will secure the balloon and allow you to keep it stationary while working.

As an alternative for the mold, you can take an empty jar, paper towel tube or water bottle and attach a Styrofoam or aluminum foil ball at the top for the head. This will give you taller, leaner figures than a balloon will.

5. If you want your ghost to have extended arms, rig this part of the frame with common household items. Straws, plastic forks, floral wire or sculpted aluminum foil will work. Tape these at the base of the balloon jutting out at an angle so that some phantom arms will poke out from the sheet once the fabric hardens.

The wire and foil are easily moldable; the shorter end of bendable straws can be taped down with the longer end jutting up perpendicularly or at a less severe angle; and laying a fork flat on the cardboard while attaching one at an angle by weaving the prongs together serves as another arm alternative.

6. Unfold the cheesecloth and drape one layer over the balloon and arm rig, if you’ve added one, to measure your strips. You want excess at the bottom so the cheesecloth pools or drags on the ground since, when hardened, this will serve as the base and allow it to stand on its own. Cut slightly varied lengths in order to give your ghost’s sheet some volume and detail. Set these aside in a pile.

7. Pour Mod Podge and water into the bowl with a two-to-one ratio. Aim for about 2 fluid ounces of glue, or one-quarter of an 8-fluid-ounce bottle, and 1 fluid ounce of water. If you use thicker or more sheets of cheesecloth, this amount should increase proportionally. Mix with a plastic fork to even out the consistency.

8. Take a strip of cheesecloth and dip it in the bowl until the entire piece of fabric is wet. Wring it out and drape the piece over the ghost frame. Don’t pull the corners too taut when they hit the cardboard. Allow the edges of the pieces to gather to form some interesting wrinkles. Consider leaving more of the excess fabric to trail behind your ghost’s back than in front, which will give your spirit a sense of motion.

9. Repeat this process with at least two other layers of cheesecloth. Place them at different angles to ensure adequate coverage.

10. Set aside the piece of cardboard for the project to dry overnight.

11. Once the cheesecloth has stiffened and no longer is damp, remove the frame from under your ghost body form. Carefully peel the fabrics strips off of the cardboard. At this point, the craft should stand erect on its own.

12. Cut eyes — and a mouth, if you want — out of the black felt. Glue them onto your ghost’s head.

13. For even more fun, attach plastic spiders or leaves to the cheesecloth. Or if you want to add some personality, give the ghost a hat, tie, scarf or sunglasses. But if you’re using the craft as a traditional Halloween centerpiece or vignette, skip the unconventional and position small gourds at the base of the cheesecloth.

Tip:To safely store your craft for next Halloween, stuff the ghost with crumpled paper, packing peanuts or even plastic bags so that it will hold its shape when you pack it away with the rest of the decorations.