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Cheesecloth Ghost Made with Mod Podge Stiffy

Learn how to make a cheesecloth ghost for Halloween the easy way, with Mod Podge Stiffy! You can make these in any size you like with this method.

Skills Required: Beginner. If you’ve never worked with fabric stiffener before, it isn’t hard but it can be a little bit messy. You might want to try a smaller ghost first with a small piece of cheesecloth before making something larger.

DIY Cheesecloth Ghost

I’m REALLY excited about today’s craft. If you’ve never made a cheesecloth ghost (also known as a Stiffy ghost) before, you need to stop whatever you’re doing right now. Do not “pass Go,” do not collect $200 – it’s time to head to the craft store!

You’re going to need only a few supplies to make this awesome Halloween decor.

For those new to fabric stiffener, it’s a pretty simple premise. Whatever you dip in the stiffener becomes “stiff” when dry. That includes cheesecloth, fabric, and other lightweight materials. That doesn’t mean your finished item is totally rock hard, but it’s pretty solid and can support itself. Just like this Halloween ghost.

Glowing cheesecloth ghost

The key to any project with fabric stiffener is creating a solid mold (otherwise known as an armature) that you can drape the fabric or cloth over. You’re going to wet the fabric with the stiffener, then hang it over the mold. The mold needs to be able to retain its shape until the stiffener is dry.

In this case once the ghost is dry, you can remove the mold. Then your ghost stands on its own! And that’s the basic premise. I will walk you through it, but understand that you can use this idea to make cheesecloth ghosts any size you like. Ideally you could make one as large as a person if you could make the mold big enough (please don’t use a real human).

There are four basic steps to this Stiffy ghost project. You’re going to make your mold, cut and wet the cheesecloth, drape it over the form (let dry), and then remove the mold to finish.

You can add glow in the dark paint or eyes and mouth when all is said and done if you like. I find it makes the ghost more kid friendly somehow. However you want to decorate it, I’ll leave that up to you!

DIY Cheesecloth Ghost

Gather These Supplies

  • Cheesecloth – I bought a pack from Hobby Lobby that was 6 yards x 36″ wide
  • Mod Podge Stiffy
  • Aluminum foil
  • Wax paper
  • Styrofoam ball (or other round object for the head)
  • Old coffee creamer bottle (or something similar for the body)
  • Scissors
  • Bowl
  • Glow in the dark paint (optional)
  • Black Sharpie or cardstock (optional)
  • Dropcloth (optional)

Wax paper bowl scissors Mod Podge stiffy and cheesecloth

There are two things you should know before you get started. First of all, it’s a good idea to have a plastic drop cloth to cover your work surface so that you don’t get Stiffy everywhere. Note that you can reuse the drop cloth for other projects. Just let everything dry and fold it up.

Secondly, you’re welcome to get creative with the body of your cheesecloth ghost. I used a coffee creamer bottle with the top cut off. Both the arms and head fit nicely and make it easy. But you can use a variety of items. You could even use a dowel rod with a base. You just need something to support the head and arms – something stable so that the mold holds while the ghost is drying.

Make the Mold

The first step is to make your mold. You will cover portions of the mold with wax paper so that the cheesecloth soaked in stiffener doesn’t stick and is easily removable.

Wax paper in a box and a styrofoam ball

Grab a styrofoam ball or something similar for the head. Then grab the wax paper.

Styrofoam ball covered in wax paper

Pull a piece of wax paper off and cover the foam ball, crumpling the paper and making a “handle” of sorts at one end. Set it aside.

Hands rolling aluminum foil into a tight roll

Tear off about two feet of aluminum foil and roll it into a tube. This is going to be the arms of your ghost. Keep in mind if you need to make them shorter or longer, you can add aluminum foil or tear it (you can cut it too, which will sharpen your scissors!).

Covering the aluminum foil roll with wax paper

Once your “arms” are rolled, tear off some wax paper and cover the foil with it. This is so the fabric stiffener doesn’t stick to the foil.

Twisting the ends of the wax paper and aluminum foil roll

Twist each end of the wax paper/foil so that it doesn’t come apart, and then bend it down. You’re about to see how this all comes together.

Mold to make a ghost

Bend the arms in half and stick the bent portion down into the coffee container. Then bend each arm to the right or left, with the twisted portion down (as you see in the picture above). Make sure the arms are secure and won’t easily come out.

Hand placing a ball on top of the ghost mold

Place the head down into the coffee container with the “handle” sticking down in there. This will come in handy later. Your mold is ready!

Cut and Wet the Cheesecloth

Cutting cheesecloth with a pair of scissors

Cheesecloth is perfectly gauze-y and looks great when turned into ghosts! You’re going to cut three pieces, approximately 18″ long if you used a bottle about the size of a coffee creamer bottle.

Before you cut, drape the cheesecloth over the mold just to make sure your pieces are long enough.

Bottle of Mod Podge Stiffy and a bowl of cheesecloth

Place the cheesecloth into a bowl on your work surface and then open your Stiffy bottle.

Pouring fabric stiffener over cheesecloth in a bowl

Squeeze Stiffy directly on top of the cloth. You want enough to get it pretty wet without making it “stiffener soup.”

Two hands pressing cheesecloth into the fabric stiffener in a bowl

Mash the cheesecloth around until it’s completely covered. You’re ready to move to the next step.

Drape the Cheesecloth Over the Mold

If you find there is a lot of excess Stiffy in the cheesecloth, squeeze some of it out into the bowl. You want it pretty soaked, but it doesn’t need to be dripping. That will just take longer to dry.

First layer of cheesecloth draped over the mold

Grab one piece of cheesecloth and drape it over the mold. You’ll see that the ends curl naturally quite nicely. It’s pretty lightweight so your mold should hold it easily.

Second layer of cheesecloth draped over the mold

Do the same with the second piece. However – situate it differently on the mold to make layers as shown and provide more coverage in areas that didn’t have as much cloth before.

Third layer of cheesecloth draped over the mold

Then you’re going to drape the third piece of cheesecloth over your form. Does it look ghostly? That’s because you’re going to do the same and organize the cheesecloth a bit differently than you did the other two pieces. This helps make for a more “realistic” ghost.

Leave to dry overnight. Check it about halfway through. If you find it’s not drying in some areas, leave it and then move it as soon as you can to help (because sometimes the base stay especially wet).

Remove the Mold

Make sure the cheesecloth ghost is completely dry before removing the mold. You can help assist with the process using a hair dryer if needed.

Pick the ghost up off the mold and pull the head out using the “handle” you twisted. You’re done!

Make cheesecloth ghosts with Mod Podge Stiffy

Unless of course you want to paint with glowing paint or add some eyes and a mouth. That’s optional. You can just paint right over the top of the fabric stiffener if you desire and let dry. I chose to leave mine plain. I don’t know – it seems more spooky that way!

Yield: 1 ghost

Cheesecloth Ghost

Cheesecloth ghost

Making a ghost out of cheesecloth is really easy with fabric stiffener! Learn how to do it in any size you like.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Active Time 45 minutes
Dry Time 12 hours
Total Time 13 hours 15 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $5

Materials

  • Cheesecloth
  • Mod Podge Stiffy
  • Aluminum foil
  • Wax paper
  • Styrofoam ball
  • Old coffee creamer bottle - with top removed
  • Glow in the dark paint (optional)
  • Black Sharpie or cardstock (optional)
  • Dropcloth (optional)

Tools

  • Scissors
  • Bowl

Instructions

  1. Tear a piece of wax paper off of the roll and place over the ball. Twist the end and set aside.
  2. Tear off two feet of foil and wrap into a tube. Cover the tube with wax paper. These will be the arms.
  3. Twist the ends of the arms so they don't come unraveled. Bend in the middle and stick into the coffee container. Shape so the arms don't come out and they stay straight.
  4. Place the head on top of the container with the twisted portion down inside.
  5. Cut three lengths of cheesecloth (about 18", or to cover your mold) using the scissors.
  6. Place in a bowl and squeeze fabric stiffener on top to cover. Coat the cheesecloth thoroughly with stiffener.
  7. Pick out one piece of cloth at a time and squeeze out excess stiffener. Drape over the top of the mold.
  8. Repeat with the second and third pieces of cheesecloth, arranging them slightly differently as you place. Let dry overnight.
  9. Remove the mold from the bottom of the ghost. Make sure all parts are completely dry before displaying.
  10. Paint with glow in the dark paint and add eyes and a mouth if desired!

Did You Make This Project?

Please leave a rating or share a photo on Pinterest!


I hope you enjoyed this Stiffy ghost! Let me know what you think about it in the comments!

Christena Kaufman

Saturday 9th of October 2021

Made these several years ago with our granddaughter. Sit them over a battery tealight on our picnic table when camping every fall. Looks great and have lasted better than I expected. Get stored in a boxing the camper year round so no special treatment.

Amy

Sunday 10th of October 2021

Oh that's fun! I love the tealight idea underneath!

Mare

Thursday 7th of October 2021

It is with pure joy I read your emails. Unless one has done a "How-To", they cannot know how much work it is to break down every step, insert pics, add tips, and finally distribute the lesson. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise with everyone.

BTW: The ghosts are great.

Amy

Friday 8th of October 2021

Thank you so much Mare! You are so sweet. You made my day :)

Trudy

Thursday 7th of October 2021

Love your ghost

Amy

Thursday 7th of October 2021

Thank you so much!

Patricia

Wednesday 6th of October 2021

Love these ghosts

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