Welcome to Finn and Fern Waldorf Inspired Dolls, where dolls are created with the finest materials and careful attention to detail.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Making a Wefted Wig with a Sewing Machine







So I hear you want to know how I make a weft using the sewing machine!  This sweet girl is a custom. I've done several with this method already and I really love it.  The first thing I do is get a square of felt.  You can measure across from front to back of the dolls head and side to side to approximate how big your square of felt should be, but I usually just cut and see about how big it is and trim it if needed.    As you can see in the picture below, I pin it from the back of the head to the front of the head first.  Then I pin it from side to side.  



After I pin it, it's time to clean it up a bit.  It almost looks like a hat for the Flying Nun!  I gather the corners so that the felt sits flush against the head.  I use pins to clean up the look.  This technique is traditionally known as draping and can be used for a variety of other purposes such as taking clothing in.  


As you can see, when it's all pinned in place, it looks like a pretty smooth cap.  Don't worry if it's not symmetrical.  You aren't trying to make something aesthetically pleasing.  It's only the host for your beautiful head of hair!  



After it's all pinned in place, you are going to take your scissors and cut off the excess.  Don't cut too close to the pins, you want to have enough to sew to close it off...





This is what it looks like when you remove the pins and before you sew up the edges.  You need to make sure the corners line up on the edges before you sew it up.  I also mark the front with chalk (here I used marker to show it clearer).


When you've sew up the sides, you can turn it inside out and try it on your doll.  This is what it should look like.  If your corners don't match up exactly, trim it up so that they match along the edges.  




Now you can start sewing your weft on.  I start in the back and work in a spiral.  I've been doing some research on youtube, and there are many tutorials on how to make traditional wig caps.  Many people do a U shape, turning the weft at the end of the U.  Then they fill in the front to create a part.  I haven't experimented with this yet, but I will be soon.  It may give better bangs, but I'm still working out how to hide the edge of the weft so that you don't have edges showing.  I'm considering feeding two edges of weft together like combs, or if you clasp your hands together, if that makes sense.  I'd love to see if you give it a try!  


When you get to the start point, overlap your weft slightly and keep working it into a spiral.  The outside edges are easier.  It becomes more slow going as you work your way in to the middle.  


Here you can see how much I overlap it.  From what I see on traditional wigs, there is more of a gap, like an inch!  Mine are close.  Dolls heads are smaller.  I suppose I could spread them out just slightly more, but I always end up with enough weft.  This particular one started at 200 inches.  I ended up with about 60 inches left over.  


Continue working in the spiral.




Uh oh!  I didn't check my bobbin thread!  This isn't a problem, it's just a nuisance.  Make sure you check your bobbin ahead of time so that you don't have to get under the weft to change it.  It's easier to change it without removing it from your machine.  Then you'd have to work it back under your foot, and that wouldn't be easier.  So make sure you have enough before you start!  Thankfully my machine warned me, which it doesn't always do!  


The spiral gets smaller!  As you are sewing, be VERY careful not to buckle your felt.  Spread it with your fingers wide.  It gets trickier as you get closer in to the spiral, so go slower!  Take your time!  


Here is the top of my head.  As you can see, the spot in the middle is very minimal.  I leave about 2-3 inches of weft to spiral up by hand.  I cut a small slit in the top using an exacto knife to stuff my spiral end into.  I forgot to take pictures of what I do underneath, but I can explain it!  Using a needle and thread, keep the spiral inside in tact and close to the felt.  Sew around the edges using small stitches to secure the inside edge of the weft.  


Using a light iron, fan out the outside weft spiral so that it evenly covers the opening.  Iron it while it is on the dolls head.  If the iron is too hot, it will burn your dolls hair...so be careful.  Set it on a wool setting.  You can also do it by wetting it down and putting a hat on it to hold it in place until it dries.  It will hold it's form.  


Here it is on the doll. As you can see, it has even coverage.


Now you have to secure it to the head.  One thing I do before I secure it is turn it inside out and make sure my felt is cut as close as possible to the weft.  Felt doesn't fray, so get in close if you can.  You can then secure it to your head using your method of choice.  Right now, my method is to use a ladder stitch to go around the head twice.  If you have other suggestions, please share :)



She's all done!  Isn't she cute?  I hope you find this tutorial helpful.  If you have any questions please ask!  I'm more than willing to help you as best as I can!  




7 comments:

  1. Thank you so so so much for sharing your technique. Can't wait to try this!

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  2. This is wonderful!! Thank you so much.

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  3. Thank you so much for this great tutorial. i am hoping to make my daughter a waldorf doll this year. Would you mind sharing more details about your weft and what size doll this is. I want to make sure i get the correct weft so the doll has long hair :)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! She's a 17 inch doll. I usually buy the longest wefts possible for my largest dolls, but always end up with extra. So her weft, I believe, was 200 inches. I had a decent amount left over. I have a hard time buying weft by grams, I prefer inches ;) I just bought 100 and 120 inch weft for two 13 inch dolls that I'm starting work on in the next weeks...

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  4. Thank you for sharing. This is excellent information.

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  5. Caroline!
    Thank you so very much for the wonderful tutorial! You are so clear in your explanation, thank you again.
    I only made one doll so far (I crochet a cap and looped mohair buclee) she turned out cute, but the neck is wobbly...:P
    I have couple of wefts to try, after I get better at making the body :) thank you again,

    Manuella

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