Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Wig making from scratch

Since midsummer celebration provided few extra days off work, I decided to start one of the bigger projects concerning our troll costumes. That is one more wig in crazy color scheme and wild styling. I styled two previous wigs from ones I've bought to make sure we have enough of them in case of urgent need… not like I’m a hoarder or anything. But this third one I decided to build from scratch, since it’s something that I haven’t ever done before. And I happened to find really cheap jumbo fiber, which might have affected the decision.

I started from the cap. I bought lining that is used on sportswear, pretty similar to fabric in hockey shirts. I used a wig head as a model when deciding where to make seams, keeping in mind that the Styrofoam head is smaller than normal human head. 

The basic shape contains three pieces, sides and the top. Forehead piece is double as well as the small pieces on the back of the neck, the temples and piece on forehead marking the hairline.

Then I started sewing wefts. Whole lot of them, from the three packages of fiber I had purchased. I used iron-on interfacing as the “root”. In my experience the weft is rather solid after ironing and doesn’t suffer from hair loss as much as tulle weft would. I even brushed the wefts quite heavily and only few strands came off from each.

The jumbo fiber is creped since it’s usually used in braids or dreadlocks, which actually works with my intentions. But still I wanted the top layer of the fiber to be smoother. I’ve scorched some wigs in the past, so I was extra careful when choosing the straightening method. I decided to give the iron a go, because I’m inpatient person when it comes to costume making. Waiting the wig to dry would have been a torture for me, if I had used the method of pouring hot water on the wig. 

I sprayed the weft with the iron and gave it few presses of steam to pre-heat it, not letting the iron’s bottom plate to touch the fibers. Then I placed the weft between layers of pattern paper; two layers under and two on top. Holding the weft from the root I pressed down the iron and at the same time pulled the weft under it. The trick is to keep the weft moving. If you only press the iron on the weft it will most likely start to melt. Been there, done that.

Then I repeated as many times as needed, spraying the wefts with water if they seemed too dry. And the iron was quite hot, between two and three dots.

I sew the wefts on the cap by hand. It seemed the easiest solution and didn’t mess the fibers too much. To prevent creating a tangled mess, I sprayed the wig with balsamspray from Gliss. It works with the synthetic hair almost as well as real hair. I highly recommend spraying the wig either outside or covering the floor under your working area. The spray makes the floor quite slippery and adds to the risk of cosplay casualties.

After I had sewn all the wefts, both straightened and untreated ones, I took a blow dryer, sprayed the wig again with the balsam and went through the fibers with a wig brush. This relaxed the creped fibers a bit and made the wig look bit more tamed.

Then I tried with some braiding techniques. I think I found the right one to use, but before I actually manage to fit the wig on the person who will wear it, I will keep the regular braids on it. I will report in when I have finished the green goblin. 

Making a wig from scratch isn’t actually that hard if you have styled wigs before and don’t bother sewing a whole lot of wefts. I might even give wig making a go in the future with straight fibers. The most crucial part might be making the cap, especially if you are making it to someone else. Thank goodness the head sizes don’t vary that much. I say and cross my fingers.


  1. WOW, that looks amazing! Great job! I bow in amazement to your skills! The finished product looks just like one you would get from ebay, even better!

    I've always wanted to know what it would be like to make a wig from scratch, it was really nice to read your experiences with it! :D

  2. Holy pie that wig looks gorgeous! *__*

  3. As always I am simply amazed by the level of skill you possess, I do think I have to build that talent leaching machine I mentioned earlier ;)

  4. Oh wow! I've never tried to make my own wig and I think I might now! Would you say it's cheaper to make your own or buy and style?

  5. It really depends on the material costs and what kind of a wig you need.

    I chose to do the wig from scratch, since the style I was aiming for was really out there and I got lucky with the fibers. The packages were only three euros each. With the base fabric and interfacing the total cost for the wig was about ten euros.

    Taking apart a wig and reconstructing it might have been as laborious and more expensive, since if I had chose to do this updo with a wig, I probably would have needed extra fibers either in form of another wig or extensions.

    And thank you for your comments. :) I have fitted the wig and will continue to work on it next week in hopes of finishing it.