Sunday, October 7, 2012

Making a Mohair Doll Wig: Wefting the Hair

First of all, I'm sharing my progress on this project here for the members of World Wide Doll House, a BJD forum open to all members. 

World Wide Doll House is more like an online doll meet up than a BJD specific forum, where members can discus lots of other things, the same as you would at a regular doll meet. We're also working on promoting a "World Wide Doll Month" for September, where you sign up to do something you'd been planning on doing for ages and just haven't done (like writing a book on NaNoWriMo, only with doll related projects.) There is a small, but growing market place there, as well. Check it out! ^_^  It's especially good for European region resources. (It's also moderated for spam posts so knock it off, jerks!) 

Now, I butchered a modacrylic wig trying to style it for one of my dolls, and unable to find the perfect wig for him, I decided to try something I'd been wanting to do for some time. Make a wig. I'd looked on Youtube for tutorials under the BJD key word and nothing I found, at the time, was quite what I wanted.  But in the side bar, there were links to human wig making.  After studying quite a lot of them, I put the links to the ones I found most useful here.

After locating a source of gorgeous natural mohair at Dreamfiber, I bought some and started trying everything until I came up with the method here.  Gerry at Dreamfiber must have the patience of a goddess, because without her preparations, I don't think I would have been able to do any of this.  

Now for the Tutorial! ^_^ 

First of all, I'm reusing the cap of the wig I ruined.  Waste not want not.  You can buy ready made caps or make your own from stretch netting for swim suit linings, and some of that fuzzy backed elastic for lingerie making. It's the same pattern as for those fake fur wigs usually miss-labeled as 'mohair'.  I carefully removed the modacrylic wefts (strips of hair) on the wig cap, while seeing how the wig was made and making notes.  This is a great way to learn how to do it.

Wefting is not as easy as it looks, but it is easy once you get the trick of it!  After a total fail, I found this method works.  Patience is an absolute must! Mohair is very fine and can really make you crazy.  Please note this can be done with anything, from embroidery floss to marabou feathers, or a blend of everything for fun!  Also, you don't want a wind, breeze or fan blowing on your work.

1. I'm using a regular letter sized sheet of paper, with my measurements drawn on it. It's easier to work with wefts in short strips when sewing them onto the wig cap.  Pin a strip of painter's masking tape sticky side up to the paper. The narrower the masking tape the better, because you only need it to hold the hair in place for the first line of sewing. Carefully spread the locks of mohair a little at a time, root side up, across the sticky side of the tape. It really helps to try to keep the waves all in an even line for the look of the finished wig. You'll want to allow for at least a half inch overlap of the hair past your stitching line to secure it in to the weft.  Never, never give into the temptation to fold natural hair double and save money.  The natural fiber which grows out from the animal's (or person's) skin will snarl more working against itself, and you'll end up with a rats nest, you want to be able to comb the hair all the same way. 

As you go, put a short layer of tape on top to sandwich the hair in place, overlapping a little so you can pull it all off in one strip.  

Never mind how thin the hair seems, don't go crazy loading a lot up.  If you want a natural looking head of hair on your doll, thin layers are the way to go, because it really builds up as you sew the hair on the wig cap.  

This prep seems like it takes a lot of time, but if you do this, the rest goes so fast, it's amazing.  I would prep one day and sew the next.  I store my wefts in a file folder so they don't get tangled.  I'm only doing one weft a day, as time allows.  NOTE: In hot weather, store your taped prepped wefts in a cool place. Also, the longer you leave the tape on, the harder it is to pull off. I found that out the hard way, too. 

2. Once you have your hair sandwich (okay that sounds...never mind..) pin a strip of hem lace with the edge just barely off the edge of the tape, so you can sew without catching the tape.  Hem lace that matches the color of the hair as closely as possible is best.  The wig cap can be either the color of the hair, or the color of the doll's skin.  But if you want to use it on multiple dolls, I'd go with the hair color. 

3. Set your machine for next to, but not quite button hole stitch length.  You want it stitching tightly, but not so tight that it barely moves or you'll be in trouble. You're going to be doing 3 rows of stitching, so don't worry.  With the lace on the bottom, sew barely along the line of the tape without catching it. Then, putting the edge of your palm down on the hair on a table to hold it firmly, carefully peel off the strip of tape on one side, then the other.  If a little hair pulls up out like that one bit you can see in this picture, carefully run your finger down the hair until it pulls back down into an even line with the rest. Mohair is expensive! You don't want to waste it!  

4. If you squint, you see the second line of stitching about 1/8 up from the first on this photo. Always make sure your lace is under the hair on the machine, so your hair doesn't get caught in the feed plate's teeth.  Go slow, have patience.  If the hair gets caught down with the needle in the machine, go slow.  Sometimes walking away, and getting a cup of tea (or coffee) helps if one gets really frustrated.   

5. Now here's the fun part (no really! You're almost done!).  At the machine, with the most lace under neath (if that makes sense) carefully fold the lace over barely 1/4 inch along the second line of stitching.  You can't really pin it, because it's a pain, so hand lower your needle into the weft two stitches and then start sewing slowly, just folding as you go. Stitch as tight as you can while still actually moving, right along the line of the first two seams.  Sorry this photo is so dark.

6. Using a small, fine point pair of sharp scissors, carefully fold up the excess lace, without the hair getting caught in it, and trim off only the lace. 

7. Now, because you don't want the longer bits causing snarls at the 'roots' of the wig, carefully trim off the slightly longer bits, leaving a line of folded over hair, maybe about 1/2 inch or 2 cms, because that's the loop that will lock the hair in.  It also fluffs up the hair for a natural scalp look on the wig. 

8. This is two 11 inch long wefts carefully folded in half for storage.  You can see how what looks like a too thin weft can become a good thick looking head of hair.  I was very encouraged when I saw this.  (Totally relived! O_o )  I want my wig a certain length so I trimmed off the ends of the weft evenly, using my marked paper to be sure all my wefts are the same length. Don't worry about combing the hair until the wig is finished.  You might want to start looking for a comb with medium spread but fine teeth for working with this wig. 

It will take me a while to weft the rest of the hair, with other projects, and of course, life interfering, so eventually my doll's new wig will show up in photos.  

Thank you for taking the time to look!  If you have any questions, ask on the WWDH forum, in this post/thread. 

All credit for how 'easy' this looks goes to Gerry at Dreamfiber.  She does all the hard work so the rest of us can weft or re-root easily.

Part 2 is here.


  1. sto cercando di imparare a preparare una parrucca in mohair e il tuo post mi sta molto aiutando.

    1. You're welcome. I know I write badly, but lots of photos make up for that, I hope? ^_^
      Your dolls are so sweet! I love how soft and good for children they look. All that lovely hand work.


  2. Great tutorial you make it look easy:-) ,I bought the wrong type of mohair,,I need locks instead of a hank ,nuts!back to the drawing board...did I mention I such a newbie at this?lol

    1. Sorry it took me a while to get back to you, but we are in the process of moving flats. It only looks easy in photos and yes, because I brought locks from Jeri. But you could still use the hanks the same way. Just put them on the tape and use a pin to sort them along it a small portion at a time. It takes a LOT of patience to start with, but then goes faster as you get going and are used to the process.

  3. Thank you for the tutorial. I have a question, if you have the time, once the hair is wefted how does it attach to the head for a natural look? I have attempted this process and I'm stuck with a mess. (I do not crochet or make caps etc). Thank you Jenn

    1. The important part is to have a stretchy cap to sew the wefts to, as shown in part 2. You can use any knit fabric really. For some doll heads, the toe part of a small thin cotton sock or pair of tights would do as a quick cap. You would just have to sew on some thin elastic around the edge to make it slightly stay put on the doll. It will be under the hair so it really doesn't matter, match the doll's skin or the hair color.

      For a 'natural look' I do my best to style the hair and take a deep breath and let non-perfection go, because it's a doll, it won't look natural unless I go crazy and do the hairline net hooking like real people wigs have. For real life or theater, dressers get a very fine netting, a tiny crochet hook or sewing needle and sew or hook the hair in along the net, then make up and powder cover the net and make it look natural enough to pass. I'm not sure that will work on a doll. I've seen tutorials on Deviant Art for short hair solid cap wigs for guys. If you search for 'wigs' on DA you might find some really good tutorials for short hair wigs. ^_^

  4. Hi, I'm doing a baby doll and need the hair thinner than a toddler per say. Any suggestions on how to achieve that look? Your tut was very informative thank you so much for sharing it. Oh what is DA you mentioned it in the above post,. Thanks again z

    1. Hi, sorry it took me a few days. For a thinner than toddler, I would use bridle veil, also called bridal illusion netting for the cap. Something in a color close to your doll's scalp color. Take the doll with you to see how the netting looks against the color. If you have infinite patience, or maybe just a lot of determination to do it (lol! I have NO patience) find the tutorials on hooking hair into a lace cap. Basically you use a very tiny crochet hook or even a sewing needle and loop the strands of hair and knot them to the netting, like one in every cross bar of the net. This creates a very realistic look. It is used in movies for close ups on the characters face to make the wig look real. If you set out and do a section a day, you can devide the scalp up into half inch squares and get it done in good time without losing your mind. Good luck!


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