Friday, 17 June 2011

Another Double Post! Wig Making Supplies - Foundation Bases and Galloon

Yes, I finally ordered my base materials and galloon. It took me long enough!

When I think back to starting this journey in September 2010, it seems to have been a lengthy process to even get to this point. One of the big factors for me has been finances. Proper wig making is not cheap! Initially one of my reasons for wanting to make my own hair pieces and wigs was because I felt that I could get a good quality and better fitting product by making it myself for a lot less cost than if I bought one from a sheitel macher (Jewish wig maker) or other custom wig maker. The reality is somewhat different.

Of course the actual monetary cost of the equipment and consumable products such as the hair, the foundation materials and the galloon is less than you would pay for a fully customised, fully hand tied, good quality human hair wig. However, there is a value to one's time and by not taking into account the man-power hours it will have taken me to make the finished product, I am not accounting for some of the wig's value. Part of the cost of this type of wig is the hours spent making the cap, fitting it properly and then ventilating the hair. Certainly at my novice level the number of hours taken to make a wig will be significantly more than a seasoned professional. For me, this is not such an issue, as I have finished my studies and some of my freelance work has tailed off for the summer, however, for other people I can see that the spare time needed would be really hard to come by if working and perhaps raising a family. For a lot of people, I guess it really would be easier and more cost-effective to purchase a wig.

Coming back to the cost - so, yes, the cost was a big factor and is one of the reasons it has taken me some time to get to this point in the learning process. I took from September 2010 through till May 2011 to save up the 'spare' money to be able to invest in these products. I am glad I waited and did not put the purchases on a credit card, as by waiting I have actually learnt a lot more as I have spent the time doing research, watching other people's videos on YouTube and also getting hold of books.

Ordering the foundation materials felt very good; as if I have finally reached a significant point and am not just dreaming of an abstract concept. I must say, I really advocate bothering to order, and possibly having to pay for, samples of the nets and meshes if you are planning on making anything other than a full lace wig. The reason I say this is because wig making suppliers tend to assume a level of knowledge that in a novice is just not there. Their descriptions of products are generally very vague; as are the colours they refer to with the laces and other foundation materials. If I had ordered these products based on their descriptions alone, I would definitely have ended up with either the wrong products or, perhaps a better way of putting it, laces and other base materials that were not optimal/the best for my personal needs and situation. By ordering the samples, even though it cost me a lot of money to do so, I ended up being able to really look at, feel, and place against my skin the different options available. Some of them I immediately could see were unsuitable for my needs at this time and others were not a good colour match or were completely different to how I had imagined.

Now I just have to wait for the order to be delivered. I think it will probably come sometime in the early part of next week. I shall share what I receive on this blog. In the meantime, I continue to work on my prototype wig foundation cap - I will be taking more pictures as I go along and will post another update on here soon.

My Latest YouTube Video - Showing the progress with the prototype

Monday, 13 June 2011

Prototype Time - Experimenting With Making A Regular Wig Cap

As I said in my last blog post, I started trying to make a regular-style wig foundation. I am in the process of attempting this at the moment. I have taken some pictures to share in case anyone wants to understand the process. N.B. This is just for practice and a bit like a prototype. I don't want to waste expensive wig foundation materials at this stage in case it goes wrong.

I have outlined my hairline on the wig block using ribbon and then sectioned off a couple more areas, as I will be making each area out of a piece of tulle (when making a real wig cap this would be foundation material such as lace).

Once I did this, I then started by attaching a piece of tulle (when making a real wig cap this would be foundation material such as lace). To do this, I used pins and I made four darts (tucks) where there was excess material. Depending on the base material used, you will probably end up doing this at some point because the material is flat and the head is curved.

Having pinned the material to the head successfully, I then took invisible thread (something like clear monofilament thread) and sewed each dart down its long edge so that it was flat and neat.

I then took blonde coloured polyester thread and sewed around the inner edge of the ribbon to secure the tulle to the ribbon.

I then repeated the process by attaching a fresh piece of tulle to the vertex, although this time I did not need to put in any darts. I then hand sewed around the inner edge to attach the tulle to the ribbon.

The next step is to cut the excess tulle where the two pieces meet and to create a seam between the two and sew them together onto the ribbon to create a neat join.  

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Double Post Today - Finished The Top and Ordered Samples

This is my second post today as I answered a query about wig springs in my first, which you can find here:

I finally finished my practice top piece, which would constitute the area of a topper or a large closure or the top of a wig. I am quite pleased with it as I feel that I achieved the flow of the corners  and the crown hair falling down the back, which is why I wanted to make this - to learn how to do that. Here is the finished item:

I have now finished with the styrofoam head and moved onto using the canvas wig block. The other day I covered most of it in blue tape. If you want to know about this tape, you can read about it here:

Bizarrely, I found covering the canvas wig head with the tape to be quite difficult as the head is rounded and the tape is straight and it's hard to cover it without making 'bubbles' and 'pleats' in it. In the end, I made a few slits in the tape where it wanted to make a pleat and this seemed to help to avoid lots of bumping.

The finished product - this photo shows the front; the back has the blue tape extending down the entire length of it.

My next project is to make more of a regular-style wig cap (foundation). To do this you need galloon, which I don't have yet. So I am utilising some ribbon that I have in my sewing supplies and which I will not be using for anything else. I prefer to use things up that I already have as I am only learning and I would rather not waste good money on things I end up chucking away. At some point, I will post a new entry about the process of making a regular-style wig cap. I am trying to take photos as I go along so that it is helpful to others who may wish to have a go at making something similar.

In the meantime, I managed to order my set of samples from another wig making supplies company; these samples are all types of foundation materials and ribbons. Ordering them has cost me quite a bit of money, as I have to pay to get them from abroad, but it is a necessary step and expense. If I was going to make a lace wig - full or lace front, I would only need lace. However, because I want to make a regular-style wig that is fully hand tied, I need to see what other materials are available so that I can design a custom wig cap that will suit me and my needs.

Wig Springs

So I have been asked a question: 

What exactly are wig springs and how are they used?

  • Wig springs are used in traditional or regular wigs. They are added at specific points on the wig foundation in order to help it to cling securely to the head. An example that many of us wig wearers will be familiar with are the bendable ear tabs at the sideburn area of many wigs. If you bend these ear tabs, they flex slightly and will stay in the position that you bend them. It is possible to achieve a better and closer fit to the side of the head by altering these slightly. Traditionally in regular wigs and wigs used on stage, these "springs" have been used at other points on the foundation, such as near the nape or the on the sides of the head near the ear, as while a custom wig should fit well, this helps give an even better and more secure fit and lessens the amount of clips/combs and adhesives that need to be used.

  • What are they made from? - Originally they were metal and looked like an actual spring, however now you can buy plastic ones. The advantage of the plastic ones is that they do not rust. A metal spring can be used, but it must be encased in a waterproof material before you can sew it onto the wig foundation or else it will rust when you wash the wig. The more modern versions are similar in material to the plastic boning that can be found in corsetry. 

A metal spring:

A plastic wig spring:

You can buy these springs from a wig supplies company and they come in various sizes. They are inexpensive. Tip - If you want to see what one looks like and have an old wig with bendable ear tabs, cut the seams on the ear tab of the wig and take it apart; you should find a small piece of plastic or wire inside some ribbon type stuff (galloon).

I am planning on using some of these springs in order to give the wig more structure and security as I do not want to bond it. 

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Learning To Make The Top - Vertex and Crown

After I spent some time just practicing ventilation - single and double knots - on small pieces of tulle, I decided that a good mini-project to get me started would be to learn how to make the top of a wig. This would also constitute valuable practice at making a topper or closure as essentially such hair pieces cover some of, or the whole of, that area.

Ventilating technical issues with making the crown and the vertex, in my opinion, centre around the following:

  1. Realistic flow and placement of hair at the crown and "corners" of the rear vertex, in order to simulate bio hair growth
  2. The part line being realistic
  3. Establishing the correct density for the individual - not wanting it too "pouffy" or "wiggy"
  4. Graduated density at the front hair line
  5. A hair line that is not too 'perfect' or moon-shaped looking
  6. Neat, small knots
So far I have managed to conquer number 1 and number 3. I am getting there on number 4, 5 and 6. Number 2 is harder at this stage. I am still working out how to make the part line how I want it. I would ideally like to do a drawn through part line. I don't mind having a fixed part line at this stage, as I think doing an entire drawn-through vertex would be too ambitious and a lot of work. 

So here's some pictures of the WIP (work-in-progress) -

I have actually nearly finished it, so I will post pictures of the final piece shortly. 

This work was done on the styrofoam head as I had yet to purchase the canvas wig block. The hair piece is made using tulle with blue paper underneath to highlight the tulle/hair and to reduce eye strain. It has double knots in the lower back portion & single knots on the rest. I used a mixture of a #1 and #2 needle - the #1 is perfect for doing single hair knots and the #2 is good for picking up 2 hairs for the lower back where you might want more density. 

The hair used was cut from the wefts of an old processed human hair wig. The downside of using this type of hair for practice and/or for making an actual wearable hair piece or wig is that it can be variable in thickness, strand colour and durability. Some of the strands in the hair I have been using are very thick and dark, others are incredibly fine and almost translucent, while the rest are more what I would call normal. When ventilating using the very thick or fine strands, there can be quite a bit of breakage, so I have tended to bin those hairs. I would certainly not use hair like this to make anything other than a practice piece or practice wig. The hair quality is extremely poor and it is not worth the effort to hand tie all this hair for actual wearing! However, I would definitely recommend using hair like this to practice with at first. Later you might want to switch to a hair type that mimics or is the same as what you will be using to make your first wearable wig or hair piece. For example, I want to ultimately use caucasian or European hair, so at some point I will switch to that in order to get a feel for it. It is much finer than the hair I am currently using and I will, most probably, need to use a very small/fine needle. I will also experiment with Indian remy hair as this is another hair type that I would like to use. 

Friday, 3 June 2011

Wig Making Equipment

So I finally ordered and got my new wig making equipment. This is the next step after using the basic materials listed in my last post. I was lucky because I already had some of those, so it was inexpensive and easy for me to get started on practicing ventilation. The best thing about doing it this way, is that you give yourself an opportunity to try ventilating before you commit a lot of money to buying loads of equipment. If you buy all the professional wig making equipment first, you could easily spend between approximately £100-200 or $150-325. The risk with this is that some people will undoubtedly find that they do not like or enjoy ventilating and wig making, and other people will find that they do not get along well with it; it won't come naturally to them.

I made a video about my equipment:

The equipment you can see in the video is pretty much the basics that everyone needs. There are other things you would need to add to this if you do not already have them, such as: foundation material (lace, net, mono etc), hair, ventilating needle holder, scissors, pins/needles/thread and possibly many more! One item I bought that is optional was the plastic wig springs (the long, thin, flat white sticks). If you want to make a bonded lace wig, you won't need those. Another optional item I have not yet bought and will be buying is galloon - this is used to edge a regular wig with and can be bought from a wig making supplies company. 

In my next post, I will show you the first steps in using the canvas wig block.