DIY Halloween Ghost


We woke up early on Half Term monday morning with a mission to make this year’s Halloween Outift. Of course, I have a daughter who oscillates between being uber-girly, and the ultimate tomboy, so Halloween can bring anything from Poison Ivy to a zombie. This year she’s going tomboy, and has been asking if she can go as a ghost for a while. So this was the day we made her into a ghost.

We ran into a problem right at the beginning – the usual staple for making a ghost costume is a white sheet. The only problem there is that I haven’t owned or used a white sheet since I was in Halls of Residence, a long, long time ago. So we raided my sewing box and re-discovered a huge sheet of off-white fabric that I purchased on the pretext of making my husband a billowy pirate shirt last year. Needless to say, the pirate shirt never happend, much to the benefit of my daughter’s ghost outfit. It was only much, much later that day that I remembered that this was the fabric that I’ve been using as the backdrop for my Outfit Gallery. Ah well… If the backdrop to my photos suddenly changes, you know why.

Elastic pinned into the slits for little hands to poke through.

Elastic pinned into the slits for little hands to poke through.

Unperturbed by the consequences, I threw the fabric over my daughter’s head, so that the fabric on one edge touched the floor. I took the part of the fabric where her head was as the mid-point, and then, laying the fabric flat, cut it to size. With the fabric already folded in half, I I folded it in half again, and then cut a round hole for the neckline. Together we sewed the elastic into the neckline. There are two ways in which you can do this. The first is to sew the elastic directly onto the fabric, stretching the elastic as you go, so that the fabric looks gathered when the elastic goes back to its un-stretched state. We used this method when we cut slits in the fabric for her hands and then sewed elastic around the ednge of the slits. The second method is to sew a fabric “tube” through which you feed the elastic. This is how we did it for the neckline, and Little One had fun learning how to feed elastic through with the help of a large safety pin. (She went on to create a mini-ghost outfit for her fluffy duck using most of the techniques that she’d learned.)

Teach a child to sew

This is us, sewing the ghost costume neckline.

With the elastic in place, I got her to stand on a step so that I could cut away the pieces of fabric that were dragging on the ground. Then came the fun bit – cutting the “shreds” into the fabric! It turns out that little girls have more creativity and patience than mums do, when it comes to making a ghost outfit look tatty.

While Little One was sorting out the tatters, I fished out a grubby pair of gloves (they never stay clean for long!) and measured them up to make gloves from the fated backdrop fabric. I under-estimated how wide the “arm” part of the gloves needed to be, so they only come up just past her wrist – if you want your loves to stretch all the way up to the elbow, you’ll need to cut the arms far wider than I did.

It's easy to use gloves to create a glove pattern - just cut the sleeves wider than I did!

It’s easy to use gloves to create a glove pattern – just cut the sleeves wider than I did!

When we sewed the glove pieces together, we used a tiny seam allowance, and re-inforced the seam at the corners inbetween each finger.

Finally, we made the skull-cap, using the same principles as the gloves. I simply found a not-too-grubby woolly hat as a pattern. I laid it out on the fabric, cut two pieces out, and then sewed them together. Before we took a break, we cut a netting curtain into long strips, making sure we left the top bit intact to thread some more elastic through.

By this stage, Little One and I had been sewing, cutting, measuring and “trying it on” for around three hours, including some strategic breaks for breakfast, coffee, and crazy-dancing in the living room. We took a break, and returned again after lunch where a plain ghost costume got “whispified”.

This is what the Whirling Dervish - ahem - ghost costume looked like before we took a break.

This is what the Whirling Dervish – ahem – ghost costume looked like before we took a break.

We took a second piece of netting curtain, cut it into four long sections and then sewed two at a time together at the top. We then cut long strips from the edges into the centre seam, sewing the seam to the sheet to create the whisps for the arms. Finally, we took another piece of netting, cut it into long and short strips, and hand-sewed each one individually onto the ghost sheet and hat at semi-random locations. This part took the longest and it ended up being a bit of a le-workout while I crouched over the fabric laid out on the floor. Sewing each strip on individually was time-consuming – but that’s often the case when you’re crafting an outfit. It’s that painstaking part of the process that makes the difference between “that’s nice” and “wow!”

That evening we snuck out to see if we could spook Dad on his way back from work – the plan failed, as the costume wasn’t warm enough. So on Halloween propper,  there’ll be a onesie undernead it all!

If any of the methods I’ve used in here don’t make sense, or you want more detaìl, please leave a comment and I’ll write up a decent explanation.

The Whirling Dervish returns in a ghostly form!

The Whirling Dervish returns in a ghostly form!