I use a milk jug to diffuse the light and it works for me for smaller items.
Here's some of those pics
And I've also been known to use a white plastic trash can, too for larger items and shoot through a rigged up contraption I made for shooting the pics.
Heres some great tips for clothing and more photos. This is from the eBay stores board and not my advice..but it's great advice and works.
I shoot in the bathroom. I started by throwing a white (or contrasting) sheet over the shower rod, then hanging my item over it, but was getting a lot of hard shadows that way.
I got a spare shower rod and put it up in the BACK of the tub, where I leave it up all the time. When I go to shoot, I hang my backdrop over that rod, and my item on the "normal" or front shower rod. The backdrop being 30" or so away softened and minimized shadows completely when I was shooting with strobes, and now they are virtually eliminated using the new tubes.
Many people just use a white sheet or muslin, but the trick is to have the maximum possible contrast. For lighter things I use a black background. for black and white things, I use a blue background.
I'm primarily a clothing seller, and have been experimenting with different lighting setups for years - tried all the standbys, halogen (too yellow), Reveal bulbs (too spotty), strobes, (potentially great pics, but too inconsistent), and I think I've stumble on a keeper - cost me $40 at Home Depot.
I got two bottom-of-the-line two-tube, 48" fluorescent shop lights ($7.50 each) and filled them with 5000K "daylight" or "natural color" bulbs. Different manufacturers call them different things, but the important thing is that somewhere on the package it says "5000K" - nothing else will do. and yes, they're the most expensive bulbs in the store ($6 each) - don't skimp!
I've already gone into my no-budget shooting setup, the "dual shower rod" method of minimizing shadows and shooting in the bathroom, so I won't bore you with that.
So I screw a couple cup hooks into the ceiling on either side of where I hang the clothes - about a foot and a half back, and about a foot to either side. Then I take the chains that come with the lights and hang them vertically (tubes up and down) in front of where I'm shooting, at a 45 degree angle to the item. This illuminates the entire length of the clothing (no spottiness), and the two lights cancel the shadows from each other - no shadows - removing background is now truly a one-click operation!
I use Photoshop elements, which came free with my DH's camera but I think it's fairly inexpensive to purchase it. I use the magnetic lasso tool, outline the item, select the inverse image (everthing BUT what I want to keep) and then hit delete. I clean it up a little with the eraser tool and that's it.
It's really pretty simple, though - ask at Home Depot for the "2 bottom of the line 4 foot fluorescent shop fixtures and 4 5000K bulbs for them" and they'll fix you up. Once you have them in hand, it will be pretty easy to see that you just hang one in front and on either side of what you're shooting.
cejj - I use Photoshop - but most photo editing tools should work - anything with a "magic wand". The key is to use a contrasting background to what you're shooting and get as few shadows on it as possible, In your photo editing software, just point the magic wand to something in the background to select it, then hit "delete".