Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Creating Custom Colour When Making Wigs and Hairpieces

One of the things I have been working on lately is creating customised colour to match hair (e.g. for hair pieces) or to create a really salon-fresh look, which some people want.

With hairpieces, a customised colour is pretty much essential in order for the hairpiece to blend seamlesslely and naturally with the wearer's own hair.

There is an exception - sometimes people naturally have hair that does not have multi-tones. Good examples of this are people whose hair is colour 1 or 1b.

A good way of making a nice blend or mix is to combine several shades within a certain colour range, e.g. 6, 8, 10. You will find some references online for colour blends if you want ideas to get started on creating your own color mixes (hint: take a look at sheitel sites to find examples).

Here's an example of one of mine using 8 and 10 virgin European human hair.

8/10 Human Hair Colour Mix

The 10 is raw hair which has a range of tones within it because it came from one donor. The 8 is purchased, so the colour is more consistent strandwise, but there is still variation within the strands.

You can choose to blend all the colours you select in order to create an overall new colour or you can choose to create a high-lighted or low-lighted effect. I chose to add low-lights by putting the darker tone over the lighter hair.

As you can see, the darker tone occurs in small sections like low-lights sometimes do (although you can of course choose to do chunkier sections if you wish). In order to add low or high-lights, you can do this by ventilating selectively as you reach the upper layers of your hairpiece or wig. Another option is to add them via dyeing the hair after making the wig/hairpiece (as you would do in a salon). The downside being the hair is no longer virgin. If it was not virginmhair to start with, you may not always get the result you expect when dyeing as you do not know how the hair has been treated before younlaid your hands on it.

If you wish to create a blended/entirely new colour, you can do this by passing all the shades of hair through a hackle. For an example of this, have a search on YouTube - there is a video of a gentleman blending synthetic hair using a hackle. If you do not have a hackle, another option is to place all the shades in your drawing cards and take a little from each shade as you work (although this will appear far less blended than if you use an actual hackle).

Monday, 18 November 2013

Where to Buy Virgin European Human Hair for Wig and Hairpiece Making

A wig making friend of mine just found my blog and that got me thinking: I am conscious I haven't written here for a while. Apologies! I have been really busy doing a lot of background work, and also struggling with my chronic health problems. Unfortunately this means that I don't have time for the extras like blogging.

I meant to post pictures of a couple of things I have made so I will try and get round to that ASAP.

In the meantime, I have had some questions sent to me recently. I have replied to everyone, but the answer to one of them I thought might be useful to post on here and I will elaborate a little.

One of my blog readers asked where she could source cuticle correct hair that is suitable for a caucasian.

Raw European Hair for Wigs and Hairpieces

Procuring true cuticle hair is complicated unless you know where to go to. There are SO many sources on the Internet claiming to sell virgin this and remi that... a lot of it is absolute falsehoods, and it's very easy to end up buying really poor quality hair for a high price.

If one wants to buy cuticle hair, then the best type of hair for someone who is caucasian would be virgin European human hair. This type of hair is really expensive, so it is best to use it when you know what you are doing (rather than for learning and practising) and to use it on hairpieces and wigs that you envisage having a long life. In order to get the most value from this hair type, as it lasts a long time, you would not really want the base/foundation to expire before it does.

It's really important when buying hair to ensure not only is the cuticle intact, but also aligned (meaning that it has been kept root to tip - clearly identifiable so that you know which end is which).

There are a few sources where I would buy this from, but to make this simple I will list the 2 main ones. Both sell cuticle correct and aligned, virgin European human hair in a range of colours and amounts (you can buy per small increment).

US - De Meo Brothers in New Jersey. http://demeobrothers.com/

UK and Europe - Hugo Royer. http://www.royer.co.uk/myshop.php?cat=34

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Ventilation - The Art of Knotting Hair

I have had a couple of queries regarding how to learn to ventilate and/or comments from people who remarked that they were struggling to ventilate, so I thought I would post a little help here.

Ventilation is a difficult process to describe accurately solely by words, so I thought I would post the video that I found most helpful when I was learning:

  1. Get a large piece of tulle or wig net instead of lace, a ventilating needle & holder and some hair. Pin a piece of the tulle or wig net to your block SECURELY. Ricky doesn't have his pinned very securely, but then he is a professional so he can get away with this, but if you are learning and your tulle/net is flapping, it makes it just that bit harder as you don't know - at this stage - how to compensate for it.
  2. Practice catching one hair in the needle. It is much easier to learn to ventilate if you focus on one hair.
  3. It's all about the tension! - The way that a knot is formed relies very heavily on the wig maker having the correct tensions between the hair that is held in a loop in one hand and the needle that has caught the hair and is pulling it through in the other hand... if the tension on the needle is not strong enough, you will struggle and end up losing the hair out of the needle.
  4. Don't pull too much! If you pull the hair strand hooked on the needle too far away from the loop in your other hand you will struggle to maintain the correct tension. Keep it small and neat. You need enough hair pulled through but not too much that it becomes loose and falls off the hook. 
Once you have mastered ventilating several rows of single strand hair, you can then progress onto using a piece of lace (which has smaller holes) and practice some rows on there. 

Monday, 2 September 2013

Back to the Wig Block - Working on a Small Hairpiece

It's September and I am finally back to normal - so my blogging and answering emails should become more frequent. Apologies to anyone who has been waiting for a reply! I shall be catching up with replies this week. I was away for much of August, so had put down the ventilating hook and the computer/blogging/emailing and taken a break. I think sometimes this is just what we need when we work so hard at a craft that is quite physically and mentally demanding.

Anyway, back to the wig block! I am in the midst of working on another hairpiece. This particular one is the smallest I have made so far and I shall be interested to see how it works on the wearer's head. I am hoping it will function as intended. It is a clip-on hairpiece that has a seamed/galloon edge. My concern is that with length being far greater than width, it may not sit as flat as I would like.

Tiny Hairpiece Base - Parting Piece
One issue with making a hairpiece is that it is very hard to tell exactly how it will behave until you have finished it as the weight of the ventilated hair adds an element of structure/stiffness to the 'floppy' base and that, in turn, helps to keep the hairpiece flush to the wearer's head (I guess the force of the weight of the hair is being exerted downwards onto the scalp). As a result, I shall have to see what the end result is and will report back with some pictures.

I have some wig pictures to post of a lace front wig that I made - will post them at some point in the next few weeks.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Making Hairpieces - Special Challenges

One of the things I have discovered over the years that I have been working at wig making is: there's always something new to learn! Perhaps surprisingly, given their size, hairpieces are a nice little challenge and there is a lot more to designing and making them than meets the eye. Due to the way in which a hairpiece is worn, I find there is a certain complexity to the design and planning stage and this goes beyond what I would normally need to think about when designing and planning a wig.

How much hair?

With a wig, I can generally guesstimate how much hair I will need; however, with a hairpiece this is more complicated as one has to think:

How big is the hairpiece?
How dense does the hairpiece need to be?
Will the hairpiece be totally hand tied?
Is the hairpiece going to be really short or really long or somewhere in the middle?

Length and density can dramatically affect the amount of hair needed, and hand tying has implications over a hairpiece that incorporates a mixture or weft and ventilation.

Big versus Small Base?

Another aspect to think about when they are planning a hairpiece is:

How big does the base really need to be?

When I was working with people who had hair loss, I noticed that there was a tendency for people to want to get the biggest hairpiece possible, but this does not always work out for the best:
  • The wearer was over-compensating for their loss and needed less hair. Too much hair looks fake.
  • As with wigs, a lot of hairpieces are made with excess hair which means they are far denser than a normal/average head of hair would be. In reality this means that the bigger the base, the more excess hair there is - this is hair which we would not normally have on our heads and suddenly there it is... and you know what? It looks fake too. This is, unfortunately, especially true when you put such a hairpiece on the head of someone suffering from partial hair loss/alopecia. The thick density of the hairpiece does not blend well with the natural density of their own hair: the two do not merge. Sometimes people with hair loss have to adapt to the fact that the hair they have left has changed, and rather than trying to achieve what they used to have, it is better and more realistic to work with what they have - thus someone who used to have thick hair may find that when replacing what is lost, to effectively blend it with what they have means they end up with a medium density. For those wearers who do not like this idea, a wig can sometimes be better as there are less or no issues of blending with their own hair.
A solution may be one of the following:
  1. A smaller base - If the person wants to compensate for one or two layers of hair, a small hairpiece can work wonders. Sometimes less is more! In this situation, hairpiece base length tends to be more important than width. The hairpiece needs to cover the front to crown to provide a sheet/wall of hair falling down over the person's own hair, whereas width just adds more hair so 2 inches for minimal loss or someone wishing to cover their roots would work well.
  2. Rethinking the large base - Sometimes it is better to stick with a large base rather than ventilating the same amount of hair as you intended to 'replace' into a smaller base, as this can result in a dense/thick hairpiece and a poor blend between the wearer's hair and the hairpiece. Instead you would ventilate less hair into a larger area of base material; this results in the hair being spread over a greater area, thus looking more natural rather than having a lot of hair ventilated into a small area and looking like a great clump/chunk of hair plopped on top of someone's head. If you do decide to ventilate less hair into a larger base, it is worth thinking about the part line (if there is one) and ensuring that it will be dense enough. 

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Men's Toupee Hair System - making, cutting & styling

Recently I had to make a hair system (toupee) that was to be in a 1960s pompadour style. Effectively it should look like the top of this but without the gel:

From: http://www.elvis.com/news/detail.aspx?id=6399

The Base - I used durable wig net and a lace perimeter that enables bonding and a natural hairline. This is the first time I have used wig net is for this type of work. The pros are that it is cheap, it is a reasonable colour if working with brown hair and it is very durable. The cons are that the holes are very large and because the hair on the top of the head is more likely to separate than hair hanging down, you can rely less on heavily dense large knots to hide the holes than if this material was being used at the back or sides of a wig. As a result I had to do so many more knots, which was time consuming.

The Hair - I used Indian hair in a number 4 with some blonde to to create a variation of colour/highlight. This type of hair is softer and more malleable than say Chinese, and the natural movement/kink/wave of the hair helps when creating the hairstyle. The hair was a lot longer than I needed for this style, but it didn't matter as I was going to cut it anyway. It is worth thinking about the style you wish to achieve when selecting hair, as your end result can be heavily influenced by this aspect. Some hair types do not lend themselves well to certain styles.

Cutting & Styling - I cut the hair into a pompadour style, then combed it back and ran some wax through the dry hair. I then styled it by combing the under layers back towards the crown, and then combing the front upper layers in a diagonal fashion towards one side, and using my hand to 'bump' the front to give it that pompadour look. I fixed the style with hairspray.

Overall I am pleased with how this turned out.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Away From The Keyboard

I haven't posted for a while because I have been so busy! I am currently working on 3 projects and will post pictures when I get a chance. I have been ventilating until 2 a.m. some nights, although to be fair, I don't start until late morning.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Fully Hand Tied Wig Pictures - A Transformation

I have been meaning to post this for a while, but things have been really busy and I never seem to get around to it. I am rectifying this today!

Brushed out before washing & deep conditioning:

After washing, deep conditioning, cutting & styling:

I wanted to keep the long length for now, but it needed a good tidy up of the layers and length. I did a massive wash/condition routine on this wig. It needed some serious intervention! It has been shampooed, conditioned, deep conditioned and had 3 leave-in products on it. The hair is really soft now and has a beautiful wave. 

I am really pleased with this wig: it stays on with no bonding, it is a good density for me (not too full on top) and has a similar configuration in terms of part line and vertex/crown density to how my own hair was before any hair loss. 

The construction: 

Extended Nape: Super Fine Lace
Crown to Occipital: Honeycomb Lace
Crown to Front and Sides: Super Fine Lace
Edges: Whole Perimeter Monofilament Galloon

I am working on a lot of other projects at the moment, so will update on those at some point. 

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Choosing Hair Colour When Wig Making & Colour Blending

Over the years that I have been undertaking the wig making research process, I noticed that there is an aspect of wig making that tends to get somewhat overlooked: hair colour. So much of a wig maker's focus tends to be on the construction of the wig foundation or the hairpiece base, that what type and colour hair to use is sometimes almost an afterthought. In reality, it should be given equal thought.

Unless one is making a wig for a character as part of a production (TV, film, theatre etc), then there seems to be two situations regarding hair colour:
  1. People who want to stick to, or as near as possible to, their own hair colour (or, in the case of alopecia totalis/universalis and people who dye their hair, what they think would be their own hair colour).
  2. People who want to use supplemental hair as an opportunity to change their hair colour.
In situation 2, choosing hair depends on what the wearer envisages, as the change could be minimal (1 shade lighter), but you may also find that some people do not mind having far more expressive, modern and funky hair colours. For people who are open to suggestions, it can be a case of: anything goes and I think as a wig maker, it can be a good way to exert some creativity.

At the same time, it is sometimes hard to imagine how a wig or hairpiece is going to look, so asking the prospective wearer for pictures (from magazines or printed off the Internet) that demonstrate the colour they are trying to achieve can be a good way to aid the design process. It also helps to minimize getting your wires crossed about what they really want, and you think they want. Do not be afraid to make well-thought suggestions if you think the colour or colour combination may not be the best option for them. If you choose this be careful how you word it; usually it is better to gently suggest an alternative.

It is also important to be aware that not all colour tones suit all skin undertones. For example, I am a person who struggles to wear blonde. It's definitely not an easy colour for me to wear because most shades of it can make me look sickly, pale and/or yellow. I tend to suit daker hair colours, certain reds, and highlights that are light brown rather than blonde.

For people in situation 1, while adhering to requests for a match to their own hair, it is important to try and achieve as natural a hair colour as possible. For example, people who have European-type hair tend to have hair that has a range of hair strands of different tones that make up their 'one colour', rather than every hair strand being the same colour. As a wig maker trying to achieve this look, this is where colour blending can be a good option. If the request is for colour 8, blending a 6 and a 10 together can achieve a nice shade that is somewhere in the middle and has a depth and richness that may not be achieved by using just one colour.

The wefts below are virgin European human hair in a number 6 (the darker on the right) and a number 10 (the lighter on the left):

Hand Wefted Virgin European Human Hair in Number 6 and Number 10
Close Up of Hand Wefted Virgin European Human Hair in Number 6 and Number 10

Combine these two colours - 1 weft sewn on top of the other, and you get this blended hair colour:

2 wefts blended to make a mid-range hair colour
Close up of the blended hair colour
On the other hand, people of other ethnicities, such as Asian and African, who are opting for colour 1, 1b and 2 will generally be okay with having a 1 shade colour. This is because it is rarer to find a high level of variation in individual strand colour in these shades.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Quick Wig Making Tip: Taking Old Wigs and Hair Pieces Apart

People are often really surprised by the amount of random things I know about wigs and hair pieces; sometimes I even surprise myself! It's taken me a long time and quite a lot of work to amass this knowledge. Much of it has come because I have spent so much time wearing supplemental hair, and when you wear it, you want to perfect it, so the search for the best and the most realistic cosmetic hair solution starts and never seems to end. Sometimes people ask me how they can go about learning all the little bits and bobs of knowledge that some of us wig makers and wearers take forgranted. Here's a quick tip...

If you are seeking to learn more, one of the best ways you can build up a good level of knowledge is by taking apart old wigs and hair pieces. In my opinion, as a wig maker it is really important to understand how wigs and hair pieces work - i.e. what makes them look a certain way, what makes cetain construction methods (types of wigs and hair pieces) work or not for different needs/uses/situations and so on. By taking apart ones that have already been made, not only do you learn how they are constructed, but you can also keep some of the 'spare parts' for later use when experimenting or making your own. For example, wig springs, combs, clips and even adjustable straps can be re-used when learning.

Stitch Unpicker
A Stitch Unpicker - This can be really useful when taking apart
old wigs and hair pieces.
You might be wondering how to get your hands on some wigs and hair pieces for the purpose of taking them apart. If you have friends who wear them, then ask them for their old ones they might throw away so that you can experiment. If you don't have any old ones and no kind friends to donate them, then try buying some old 'beaters' (well used full lace and lace front wigs that would overwise be hitting the bin/trash can) or second hand wigs and hair pieces on ebay. You can sometimes find old wigs for sale on Remember, don't pay too much! 

A good way to get the most out of this learning experience is to use a camera to document the process. Take pictures of the inside of the foundation (cap)/base and then as you remove sections or unpick parts, take pictures of that too. It can also be helpful to make notes and drawings to refer back to later. It's easy to quickly forget what you are seeing/learning. I like to create a wig making notebook and folder in which to keep all my notes, pictures and other resources that I have amassed. It also is quite a boost to eventually look back at how much you have learnt.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Important Considerations When Making A Wig - Darts

Darts are an inevitability for a wig maker. If you don't know what a dart is, then here's an explanation:


The reason they are found in hand-made wigs and larger hairpieces is because both a wig and a large hairpiece (that encompasses the curves of the head) are not a flat shape. When flat fabric needs to make a rounded skull shape, some form of dart is involved. Another reason you may run into them along your wig making journey is when making alterations to a wig.

As I have mentioned before on this blog, I recommend gaining some sewing skills before you set about hand-making wig foundations and large hairpiece bases. Both of these tasks require not only sewing skills such as knowledge of various sewing stitches, haberdashery and perhaps how to use a sewing machine, but also an innate understanding of how to use fabric to design and make something you are evisaging in your head.

There are a few rules that should be followed when making wig foundations and hairpiece bases that incorporate darts:
  1. Unless the person you are making for has an uneven head shape (for some reason), aim to make the darts 'even'. That means: if you have a dart over one ear, you should have one over the other ear. In reality this usually means making the first dart smaller, and then making another dart the other side, taking up the rest of the slack you have realeased off the first dart you made (so basically halving the dart you had initially made). 
  2. Darts on the side should be turned towards the back.
  3. Darts on the crown and back should be turned towards the centre.
  4. With wigs, if pinned correctely darts should not be placed on the vertex. 
Here is a primative drawing (!) I did - excuse the egg-head:

The red triangles are the 'darts', the blue line on the side view is the wig edge. The red line denotes the middle of the wig; it is helpful to mentally divide the wig down the middle so that you ensure you have an equal dart on the opposite side. You can see why you would want the darts to be even, as it helps to create a symmetary to the wig shape and ensure it fits properly without being bulky. 

Example of darts placement on a wig - note that each one is mirrored by an equal on the opposite side


Re: #1 - When laying the lace/tulle/net/monofilament, or whatever fabric it is you are using to make the foundation/base, you will intially pin various points of the material and start to make darts as you lay and stretch the fabric to make the rounded scalp shape. As you then move further back, or around to the other side of the block/head, you will find that you need to unpin some points that you have already pinned in order to make the cap smooth and shaped correctly. In the case of darts, I try to pin both sides at the same time because I know I need to create an equal dart on the other side. I.e. if I am pinning a dart on the right side, I will start adjusting the left side in the same place/location, using temporary pins half-pushed-in (rather than completely pushed in/fixed) to hold sections, so that I create two equal darts on both sides, instead of one large one on one side. How many darts you end up using depends on the person's head shape that you are making the wig for, and how many pieces of material you are using to make the wig. Some wigs are made using only 1 type of material as the base. Others have several sections to their pattern and use a different piece of material for each section. Regardless, the same principle applies throughout.

Re: #2 and #3 - When you make a dart, you literally pull a section of fabric up in your hand and then fold it over, as it is essentially 'excess' material. You would then pin it, to hold the excess fabric in place while you pin the rest of the wig material onto the block. There are different types of darts used in dress making and other types of sewing, but usually in wig making, darts are triangular in shape because of the cap shape we are creating.

Here is an example of how a dart is created:

The blue arrow indicates the fabric being pulled over so that the two yellow lines meet (the yellow line edge of the fabric on the right side lays on top of the yellow line edge of the fabric on the left side). After pinning the whole wig, you would then sew along the pinned edge of each dart - along the yellow line, so that the fabric is joined together permanently and, most importantly, lies flat. I sew mine along both edges to make sure they are totally smooth and low-profile.

It is also imporant to follow a basic rule when marking darts on a wig:

Darts on the left - fold towards the right
Darts on the right - fold towards the left

Or... another way of looking at it = if you are making a dart on the side, you are folding towards the rear of the head/wig and if you are making a dart on the back, you are folding towards the opposite ear.

Re: #4 - As a general rule of thumb, it is less desireable to create darts on the vertex (the vertex being the top of the head from front harline to crown and from side to side before the head curves away). The reason for this is because you want the area everyone looks at (the top and front) to look seamless, and smooth... as if the person is not wearing a wig. Sometimes we have to make darts in this area due to the fabric being used and/or the shape of a person's head. In this case, it is very important to think about their placement. You want to think about the hairstyle that the wig will end up being styled in. E.g. if the wig is going to have a partline, don't make a dart that shows in this area. If the hair is going to be brushed back for some reason (ponytail or up-do or short hairdo) and/or you are creating a wig with a very fine, graduated hairline, putting a dart somewhere at the front will be more likely to show. Usually one would aim to have no darts on the front hairline, and if you need to put darts in the front section of the wig, then place them over the ears, or along a line around the crown (but avoiding any partline or open crown areas).

Example of a wig dart

Purple lines highlight the two darts -
one is deep over the ear, but misses the vertex and the other
is on the side pointing towards the crown, but again is hidden.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Important Considerations When Making a Wig or Hairpiece Foundation - Part 2

One of the aspects of making wig foundations (caps) and hairpiece bases that I realised early on is: the necessity to think ahead, because what you make at the foundation/base stage, can have a massive impact on what you eventually achieve after all the hours of hard work. No one wants to waste lace, hair or other materials. It can be equally demoralising to realise you have wasted a lot of time and energy, making something that is not quite right. Of course in reality, no experience is wasted - we learn through our mistakes, or at least we should be striving to do so. Even in a taught situation, where one is receiving hands-on teaching and training from a tutor/teacher, we still learn through our own efforts and attempts at achieving what is being asked of us.

As part of your wig design and making, don't forget the above steps!
For me, the necessity to think ahead has been highlighted by my own wig making mistakes. I am at a point now where my mind is capable of thinking ahead to other stages in the wig making process, that are later down the line, and assessing whether there is 'going to be a problem'. This is a really good position to be in! If you are earlier in learning the wig making process, this is what you want to be aiming for, because in doing so you will reach the stage of being able to anticipate problems before they occur. The end result will be much better, and you will find your are making better use of materials (less waste) and your time and energy.

Being able to think ahead is closely linked to being able to honestly evaluate your own work. An example of this for me has been when I made my non-bonded galloon edge wig. Overall the cap design works well, but there are things I would change if I made one again. For example, I would not bother to make an extended nape. At the time I made the extended nape because I was curious as to how it would look, and whether it might be a good option for me. In reality, not only did it add on extra work in terms of making it and ventilating it (it adds another few inches of ventilation vertically, and goodness knows how much horiztontally), but it also is unnecessary for my daily wear needs. I learnt that I don't need it, but I also learnt that if I do need it one day (because I want a certain type of hair style), I will be sure to make it differently, and to make it only on a specific type of wig: one that I would wear for special occasions that required me to have my hair up.

I believe it is therefore important to not just keep making items, but to spend time noting what works and what doesn't. I know from a friend's experience that it is very easy to get trapped into the cycle of making more and more wig foundations for example, and finding that they don't fit the way you thought they were going to. Not only is this rather exhausting, but it is also a waste of resources. If something doesn't work, it can be very helpful to not just think: that didn't work, but to figure out why, and to learn from that experience too. Sometimes a bit of brainstorming and discussion with others can be really helpful.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Wig Cutting and Styling

As well as my passion for wig and hairpiece making, I have a more general 'all things hair' obsession too. This isn't even something that developed due to my hair loss, but is deeply rooted in my childhood. I have been pretty crazy on hair since I was a wee one, because hair was my thing, that I liked about myself and that people knew me for - rather ironic, given that it then started to leave me!

Anyway I digress, but the point of this is that to me, there is so much more to the whole wig making process than just making a wig or a hairpiece. That is just the starting point. Once the wig or hairpiece is completed, the magic needs to happen - someone has to turn that raw state into a hairdo. So there is the original styling of whatever has been made - what cut/style you wish to achieve for yourself or the wearer - and then the ongoing care & maintenance of the hair. For me, this aspect of being a wig maker has pushed me to further develop my hairdressing skills. What I have lost in being able to do with my own hair, I have gained in being able to do with other people's bio hair and with the wigs and hairpieces. I enjoy the styling and cutting aspect as much as making the wig or hairpiece itself.

One such project I recently completed:
  1. Take one virgin European human hair wig in the style of a mullet (eek!)
  2. Wash & deep condition the wig
  3. Cut the wig into a bob (as that was what was required, plus it got rid of the mullet)
  4. Blow the wig dry into desired style
So yes, I took the horrendous mullet wig style and rendered it into something more sleek and sophisticated (I think). Pictures below...

This wig needed serious styling help due to it's mullet style

The result is a far more comfortable wig, that looks rather chic. It can be worn in the classic bob style, roughed dried as shaggy layers, or even flicked out.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Starting Out in Wig Making & Supplies

I have had more queries about starting out making wigs. As a result, I have added a search box to help people find information in previous blog posts. Please use it before contacting me, as I may have already provided you with the information and answer.

To recap, this post is helpful for anyone getting started: http://makingwigs.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/how-to-get-started-in-wig-making-and.html
I definitely suggest getting the book (and no, I am not an affiliate/don't get paid to say that!), as it will help you to learn wig terminology and provides a useful reference tool, as well as plenty of inspiration.

Wig making supplies -
My UK recommendations are here: http://makingwigs.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/where-to-buy-supplies.html
There are others in Europe, but for various reasons including price and ease of ordering, these would be my preference if you are living in Europe. You should be able to order from those companies internationally too (so if you are in the US or Canada, don't discount them), but obviously shipping costs may be prohibitive.

If you are in the US, then His and Her sell wig making supplies. There are other places that sell bits and bobs, but His and Her has the widest selection. Alcone Company sells some products and is worth a look: http://www.alconeco.com/Products/Character/Wig-Making-Supplies I have not used either of the US companies - shipping is too expensive and I can get what I need on my side of the pond, so to speak.

I shall also start a glossary of terms, so that people who are confused what various terms mean can refer to it.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Things to Think About When Using Galloon to Make a Wig

One more intensive aspect involved in making a non-bonded wig is the 'structure' required to make it work (stay on your head with minimal intervention). This additional element impacts the amount of time the wig takes to make.

Full Lace Wig - No Galloon
For those of you who are unfamiliar - a full lace wig has a quite unstructured foundation (cap/base). It requires bonding to the scalp with an adhesive tape or glue, because the edges are essentially 'floppy' and they would come away from the scalp/head at the sides. A key element to this type of wig working is it fitting and staying flush to the scalp/skin. This helps the edges and the lace, in general, to blend with the wearer's skin and thus appear flawless.

One way to achieve more structure is to use galloon (a fabric tape). It is used in many off-the-shelf wigs along with higher end VEHH (virgin European human hair) sheitel wigs, in order to create the edge of the wig and sometimes the inside structure too. When combined with any of the following elements: elastic, adjustable straps, combs and clips, galloon helps to ensure the wig will stay both flush to and on the person's head.

Sewing Galloon Seams
With my first non-bondable foundation design, I quickly realised that using galloon adds to the labour requirements  far more extensively than when making a full lace wig without it. The full lace wig cap is definitely the quicker and somewhat easier option, in terms of making it from scratch and ventilating to it. A full lace wig requires some darts to give it shape, and usually some joining of fabric/a seam or two. On a non-bonded, fully hand tied wig, you have all that to do, plus pinning the galloon to match the hairline/head shape (in this case around the edge, crown and above the nape), then sewing it to the lace or other foundation material. When you add to that the time  taken ventilating into the galloon versus just lace, using galloon is more time consuming.

The upside for someone like me, who has a mix of hair loss/alopecia, chronic health limitations and allergies to products, is that this type of foundation/cap gives me the feel of full lace without the issues that caused me to stop wearing them. As someone who has gone back to wearing non-custom wigs that are constructed of a far thicker base (a sheitel wig), I love the lightweight lace cap because it feels less hat-like and less obvious to me. I tend to prefer fully hand tied because I feel the hair mimics natural hair growth. I also find it more comfortable and cooler in the summer months.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Choosing Wig Lace and an Update

I have been away for a while battling flu and sinusitis. I am still struggling with the latter, but hope to be back to blogging more regularly now.

I had a comment to my post about laying your lace down on the block, and I thought I would quickly address the reply/response here as the information may be useful to other blog readers.

The question was this:

Hello, thank you for all the info!
I just have a question though..
What type of lace do you recommend?
I'm from Greece so I have a hard time using english terms for the lace I need. (Simply saying swiss or french lace won't do it)
Maybe you could tell me how this lace should look like? (how soft, how large are the wholes, is it strechy etc) so i would know what I'm looking for...
Also, one last thing, I search my lace at fabric stores, do you think there's another place more qualified for me to search?

The lace - whether termed Swiss, French, German - is a specific type of 'lace' (which is actually a net fabric) that is designed for wig making. Although certain types of it are often considered fragile, it is quite strong and usually made from a monofilament type fibre (similar to the thread used in fishing lines). You will find net or tulle at the fabric store, but that fabric is designed for dress making or for making underskirts to go under dresses and skirts. What you need is wig making lace. You can buy it from wig making suppliers. 

You can find two suppliers I recommend here: http://makingwigs.blogspot.com/2013/01/where-to-buy-supplies.html

An example of the type of lace you might wish to buy is this:  http://www.royer.co.uk/products.php?show=74 
Which is  - 2906Nylon mononet40 denier 60 cm wide skin shade STANDARD STAGE LACE
These would also work:
2905Nylon mononet20/30 den 60 cm wide skin shade FINE STAGE LACE (this will be more fragile and less durable)
3104Ultra fine H/T front lace60 cm wide 20 denier lace skin tone for fine fronts STAGE & FILM (again this will be more fragile and less durable, although it would make a good lace front as it should blend well - it will be unlikely to withstand long-term vigorous bonding over many months)

Terms you see used are: superfine Swiss, Swiss, French, German, monofilament, mononet and tulle. I will be making a blog post shortly with more detailed explanations about these different types of materials. The main thing to do when trying to pick a lace for making a wig is if you are unsure buy from a wig making suppliers. At least this way, you will be using something designed for making a wig. You can also always ask the supplier for their advice.

 In the case of Hugo Royer, the lower the 'den' (or denier) number, the finer the lace or net (meaning it is more fragile and less durable, but also less visible and blends very well if bonded). Sometimes you can ask for a small sample of the lace or net, and the company will send it for the price of shipping. It is always worth asking, as this gives you a chance to see the colour as well as the texture and how fine it is. When starting out, I suggest buying no more than a metre at most . If the lace turns out to be wrong, you have not wasted too much money and you may later find a use for it, or can sell it to someone else who might use it. If the lace is correct, you can always buy more.

One a side note - I have had a discussion recently with someone else who follows this blog and who I am friends with. They wish to use the type of net and tulle found at the regular sewing fabric store. I am not saying it is unusable, as you can definitely use it for certain purposes. I have used it in the past to practice ventilation on and to make prototypes of wig caps - where I did not want to waste the proper wig making lace, which is very expensive. It is good for experimenting with or when you are learning how to make a wig cap so that you can learn to get the right fit for the measurements you have taken. It can also be good for a wig that will be worn as part of a costume or infrequently. The type of net/tulle found at the sewing stores has a tendency to rip or catch more than the wig making lace, and this is especially true if using a wig ventilation needle. Some people are choosing to make wig caps from this type of material and using a latch hook to do their knots - this is better as it is less likely to catch or rip the material because it is not such a sharp tool as a ventilating needle. The downside of this material is that it tends to come colours that are less blendable with people's skin tones, and compared to the type of wig making lace I use, the holes are much more visible as they are far bigger.

I hope this helps.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Guest Post: How to make baby hair look finer and more natural on a wig or hair piece

My good friend, Melanie, who hosts a Brazilian Portuguese alopecia and wig blog: www.vidaderapunzel.wordpress.com, agreed to write a guest blog post for my blog. You can find her blog post below. Incidentally, if you are in Brazil and looking to buy a lace wig or hair piece, check out Melanie's blog, as she also sells them and sometimes bonding products such as adhesive and scalp protector. You can contact her via her email: vidaderapunzel@hotmail.com


Baby Hair

I've been sort of obsessed with baby hair over the past month or so. I often catch myself looking at other people's heads and noticing the baby hair around the front and back of their hairlines. Yeah, weird, I know, but to all wig wearers that's just sort of normal. We want to know if our wigs are passable as normal, growing human hair.

One of the problems I've had with my wigs is unnatural looking baby hair, especially on cheap Chinese-made lace wigs. With some help from Mr. Google and some wig/hair forums I found a rather unexpected method which promised natural looking flimsy baby hair.

How to make baby hair look flimsy:

Products needed:
Wig with unnatural baby hair
A little bit of Nair (Yeah, that cream used to remove body hair!)
Sink, running water, mild moisturizing shampoo.

  • Turn the tap on and make sure the water is running warm.
  • Apply a little bit of Nair to the tips of the baby hair. Don't apply it too near the roots or it will weaken the hair too much.
Nair - applied and processing
  • Count 20-30 seconds (I let it stay on for 30 seconds as I was dealing with very thick Chinese hair). Immediately rinse all the Nair off, and just to be sure it's all out, wash the baby hair with mild moisturizing shampoo. Let it air dry.
  • Tah dah! Your baby hair will be a lot finer and more flimsy, much like naturally growing baby hair. 
Here's some pictures to demonstrate this technique...



Comparison of Before and After