Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Making a Mohair Doll Wig: Putting it Together

This is part two, part one, is here.

You'll need the mohair wefts you've made, and a doll wig cap that you've either made or purchased that fits your doll, and a wig stand of some sort, a good thread to match the hair as closely as possible, a milliner's needle, and some long pins, with ball heads.  I used quilting pins.  (Note: I am assuming you know how to sew, or you wouldn't be trying this.)

I decided to just grab some black cotton knit lace and make my own. Instead of the standard teddy bear head type cap, I wrapped a rectangle cut of fabric around the doll's head and pin fitted the y-shape I find makes for a much better and more secure fit on my dolls.  Allow enough for the casing for the elastic.  Then fold up the bottom and make your elastic casing. I used 1/4 inch wide elastic overlapped 1/2 an inch. I fitted the doll with the elastic not stretched at all.  This way it's snug in its resting state.  Too tight, and your wig pops off all the time, or you can't stretch it to get it over the doll's head easily.

This is the y-shape seam, with the point between the top arms being the center top of the head.

Your wig cap should fit to just above the ears, and down to the doll's nape in back.  

For a wig stand, I use a styrofoam ball I squashed into a vague head shape, and used opened up and bent paperclips to secure it to a doll stand.  If you use this method, you'll get little pin chips of styrofoam coming off inside the wig, but they can be brushed off later.  

First, put the wig on your doll with the raw seams up.  Mark it, where you want a part to be, and right behind the back of both ears.  You can use a line of basting thread in a lighter color to do this, so that it shows through. 

This is important:  Always pin the hair overlap side of the weft to the cap.  You want the longer side to be on top of the short side on the wig.  

Put the cap on the stand inside out, the side without the seam edges showing.  You'll be pinning the first strip of  hair along the inside edge, from behind your doll's ear to ear. Pin it every inch or so by stabbing the pins into the styrofoam.  Then gently wrap the hair out of the way with a twist tie. Using a short amount of thread, because it will catch and knot in everything if it's too long, sew the hair weft on with a back stitch, using small stitches, and don't catch the elastic, it's hard to pull the needle through.

Now, flip the cap, fitting it back down, right side up over the stand snugly, and very careful not to catch the hair up inside the cap where you might sew it to the inside.  Now you are ready for your first outer weft of hair.  Pin it on the edge of the cap, all the way around this time, and get busy.  Right about now, you're seeing how worth it this project is.  There's your doll's new hairline. Make certain to work your desired design into the way you arrange the hair.  If you want a part, cut the strips and fold them a little under and then join another row, so that you have that fold line where the part is to emphasize it, especially if you are using a straight hair.  My doll needed a natural cowlick, so I used the part of my wefts where I had a slight gap.  

Your third weft should be right along the top of the second weft, to really cover the edge of the cap. After that, you can put them about 1/8 an inch apart. Gerry sets up her mohair locks in small manageable packets, 4 or 5 to a half ounce, and I ended up with a left over packet, that's probably about 1/8 of an ounce, so a whole ounce of mohair should do a size 9 head doll.  After the fourth row, you'll start filling in the back of the head, by laddering (making rows of) strips until about the top of the ears. After that, just go around, adding strips as needed, you'll want it look like this, nice and round.    

Fill in the round until you can't  really go any further.  The mohair really is this shiney. It's got a wonderful silver sheen to it, and it's so silky.

This is the tricky part, because you either have a bald spot or a lump of weft.  I had to figure it out myself at this point.  I rolled up some weft into a flat oval that was as wide as the bald spot.

I sewed it on back to front, and then carefully flipped it to the back and tacked it down.  

The hair stands up, so that you can then arrange it around to cover the top naturally as possible.  I then took the wig off the stand and took a few stitches from the inside just to make sure I'd caught everything, and clipped off a few short hairs that were standing straight up.  The mohair is still rather loaded with natural lanolin, so your fingers will get that hand cream feeling, but the locks of hair stay manageable.

When you take the wig off the stand, you'll see what I mean about the styrofoam the needle has picked bits off of. Just brush them off with your fingers.  

I then combed the wig out working with a broad toothed comb and starting from the ends to the roots on both sides, to get over the trauma of all the hair coming out.  As you can see, there is more than enough hair left on the wig.

If you notice thin spots or the cap showing through, don't panic, you're not done yet.  If you're like me and had left over mohair, you can always sew some strands in, later.  At this point, the locks are still tight from the lanolin for one thing, and you don't know how it will look after washing.  I decided to trim the more raggedy edges off while I had the wig spread out.  

Now for a bad hair day photo: Long suffering, my dolls. >.>;;
RSDoll Vincent BJD

This is why I said don't worry about how thin your wefts are.  It adds up to a LOT of hair when it's on the doll's head.  

While I still had the advantage of the lanolin  I decided to just cut it.  The hair is completely relaxed in it's natural state, so my theory was, it shouldn't curl up any tighter or shrink.  I'm fairly familiar with the doll character's hair style, so I just hacked off anything that didn't look like the character, leaving everything just a little bit longer than I thought it should be, just in case. The ends are pretty square looking, but wait to deal with it after the wash and dry.  

Raurencio Studio Vincent BJD

The back is really fluffy right now, but after it's washed, the natural ringlets will come back.  Which is what I'm counting on, because the character has naturally curly hair and normally wears it in a messy tie back. 

I used a small amount of moisturizing shampoo in water just a bit warmer than body temperature, in a plastic bowl, and held the wig by the part line, very gently dragging it through the water, no swishing, no squashing it in your hands to squeeze water out. You don't want to end up with felted doll wig.  You'll see some of the last bits of stuff come out of the mohair. (Gerry gets her mohair very clean, so it's not gross like some.)  I then emptied and filled the bowl with cool water a few times, just pulling the wig through the water.  I used barely warm water again with a small amount of conditioner diluted in it and repeated the process, leaving the wig soaking for a minute before rinsing.  

Do not try to comb it out while it's wet, do not use a blow dryer on it or put it in a hot place. 
Dry it on the stand for 24 hours, where normal temperature air will circulate around it. 

Put it on the doll and gently lift the locks with a pair of tweezers or your fingers or what ever.  You just want enough 'lift' to spread the locks out a little and cover the wig cap showing.  I then used a black twist tie to secure his pony tail and put the finished red tie back on over it. 

( I really have to find out why my camera can't deal with red!) 

Worth every penny and minute of it.  Messy as it is, it's exactly what the character calls for.  The wig is snug, but I can put it on by spreading it over my fingers, no tugging and having the skull cap come off inside the wig and then having to tug and yank the cap down or having it too loose all the time. 

I could not have done this without all the marvelously instructive tutorials for human wig making on YouTube.   I found so many, I can't even begin to list them.  The ladys and guys making the tutorials are wonderfully clear, clever, and patient and I am so grateful they chose to share their skills.  

And for natural fiber, I wouldn't go anywhere else but Gerry's Dreamfiber shop on Etsy.  When I was looking for mohair, I contacted a lot of shop owners and one person told me I'd need 4 whole ounces of mohair to make a size 9 doll wig!  Gerry sells half ounces and worked with me, answering all my questions, so that I was happy to order another half ounce from her.  


  1. very nice tutorial. Can't help but think the complete doll reminds me of Jonny Rayflo from Vassalord.

    1. Took me a while to find the email notice of a comment, sorry.

      Yep, that's who he's cosplaying. Check my DA account for the rest of the menage. ^_^


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