Friday, October 14, 2016

Tutorial: How To Make a Mohair Doll Wig

Recently I got several dolls in stock whose wigs were either missing or damaged. Tiny wigs made to fit the 8 inch Ginny and similar dolls are hard to find and quite expensive when you do come across them. Wigs made from mohair, like the early Ginny dolls', are even more rare. I have a big box of various types of hair so I decided to have a big wig-making day and finish several dolls.

Sew the hair to a wig strip.

Since I had so many wigs to make I didn't bother with wig caps. Instead I went with the technique used by most of the Ginny knock-off dolls of the time, where the hair is sewn to a strip of fabric. I used tulle net and just sewed the mohair to it so the stitches are almost like a part. I did not put the line right in the center but a little to one side, because later I moved the hair to the side to cover the stitching line.

The finished stitching

To cover the stitching line begin lifting thin strands of hair with a bamboo skewer from the longer side of the hair. Move each one over the stitches to the other side.

Move some hair over the stitches.
The stitches are covered.

Once you've covered the stitches you will need to comb out the mohair using the skewer. Just pull the point of the skewer from the part outward until the hair is smooth and looks like real hair. As you are combing out the mohair you will pull lots of hair from the wig. That's all right. Save these pieces for later use.

Comb out the hair.

Save the combings for later use.

The wig after combing

When the wigs were combed out I used a bald Ginny doll to shape them. It's really necessary to have a head to mold the hair onto. I borrowed a Barbie hair salon chair from my daughter to keep the doll still. You could use a doll stand as well, but I like the taller chair to keep the head where it's easier to work on.

Use a bald doll to shape the wig.
If you want to make a wig with braids or pigtails you can use the combings to make hair ties that match. Take a piece of mohair and twist it into yarn with your fingers. Then thread the yarn on a tapestry needle and use it to tie the braids or any other part of the wig that needs to be sewn in place.

Use the combings to make ties.

Twist the combing into yarn.

Thread on a needle.

Use the yarn to tie the hair in place.

The tied braids
For other hair styles like flips, I roll the hair into the style I want and pin it with small hair pins or even straight pins. Pipe cleaners can also work for this. After the style looks as I want I spray the heck out of it with Mink hairspray. I use Mink because it gives the hair, especially mohair, a shimmery finish. Mink holds almost like shellac, as well. Just spray it, or any aerosal hairspray, on until you see little droplets and then let it dry without touching it.

I prefer Mink hair spray for mohair.

Spray until droplets form.

I can hardly ever find small doll sized bobby pins and even the miniature ones you can find are too big for 8 inch dolls. With mohair you also need sharper pins, rather than blunt pins. When you find old dolls with their original pins you can see they used wire pins with sharper tips than the ones we have today. I make my own  pins out of florist's bright wire. I just cut a bit of wire and bend it into shape with pliers.

My custom hair pins

For the Ginny doll shown at the top of the post I tied her hair into pigtails and then rolled them into little buns and pinned them with my hair pins. For the Lucy Lollipop shown below I rolled the hair into a flip and sprayed and then pinned it into place.

To attach the wig, either glue it on with a water soluble glue like Aleene's Tacky Glue or use Velcro. If using glue trace the hairline with a line of glue and fill in the scalp, then turn the wig inside out, place the center strip in the glue, and fold the wig down over the head. Tie a ribbon or rubber band around the wig to hold it in place until dry. For composition dolls do NOT use glue. Instead use mucilage or rubber cement. The reason for this is you can't soak composition heads in water to remove a wig, but mucilage can be poked with a knife or skewer once it's dry and crumbled away so the wig can be taken off. If you want to change wigs often glue a piece of Velcro on the doll's scalp and glue the corresponding piece inside the wig. You can make several wigs this way and substitute them whenever you want.

Lucy Lollipop's flip

Both the Ginny and Lucy dolls shown in this post are for sale, along with many other dolls, in my eBay and Etsy shops. The braided wig will be used for a future doll. I am thinking of making these wigs for sale, so keep watching my stores for those.

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