The triple flip girls didn’t want to be bald, so I made them wigs. The wigs are three different colors and three variations of the same wig-making method.
When I make new wigs for old dolls, my goal is to make them from appropriate material in an appropriate color and style. I do not attempt to fool anyone into thinking that the wig is original, that would be cheating.
For such small dolls, I prefer to use English Mohair (top) instead of wefted mohair. English mohair comes in a long rope, but the fibers are not interwoven. It cannot be brushed. Wefted mohair is made from locks of hair sewn in strips. It can be brushed, but usually is too thick for tiny wigs.
I get my English mohair from Dollspart Supply and usually use Light Blond, Golden Blond or Brunette. These are the colors most found on antique all-bisque dolls.
These are my basic wig-making tools. Today, I won’t be curling the mohair, so I won’t need the permanent rods, bobby pins or cut straws. I’ll show you how I use the other bits as I go along.
To choose the right color, I drape a tiny bit of the mohair over the doll’s head to see if the color will work with her complexion.
I start by measuring the doll’s head (top of ear to top of ear and hairline front to back) to make a wig cap. For these caps I used crinoline, a stiffened woven cotton. When crinoline is wet, it can be shaped and it holds its shape when it drys. You can also use lightweight buckram. Both can be hard to find. I get mine online from Judith M Millinery Supply House.
All three dolls’ heads measured the same, so I cut three matching circles. These can be trimmed when they’re on the dolls’ heads, if necessary.
Here’s what an antique wig cap looks like. It is made from stiffened fabric. You can try this if you can’t find crinoline or buckram.
One of the dolls has a dome head, so I just wet the crinoline circle, cover it with a bit of plastic wrap and mold it to her head. Everything is held down by a rubber band.
The other two dolls have open crowns, so I cut a small styrofoam ball with a serrated knife to make a temporary pate. This type of doll usually did not have a cork pate.
The styrofoam can be squished gently into shape.
The plastic wrap keeps the crinoline from drying thoroughly, so I only keep it on for a couple of hours, then gently remove it and let the crinoline finish drying into shape.
Since the wigs will all have center parts, I use curl papers cut in half to mark the size of the part and to cover the mohair when I sew it. For a part with pigtails, measure the distance from the hairline at the forehead to the hairline at the neck. For a simple center part, measure from the hairline at the forehead to the back of the crown. Mark this measurement on the paper.
Separate out a thin width of the mohair and cut it longer than you think you’ll need. One piece will drape over the doll’s head with the part sewn in.
Lay the mohair, centered over one piece of curl paper.
Place the marked paper over the mohair and smooth the mohair out between the markings.
Using matching thread and a tiny stitch on your sewing machine, stitch from front to back, ending and beginning past the mohair.
The stitching perforates the paper and makes it easy to tear away.
Cover the doll’s head with plastic wrap again and place the pate over the wrap. We will be gluing the wig to the pate, not directly to the doll’s head.
If I just placed the mohair with the sewn part on the doll’s head, the wig would gap in the back. So, you will need another small section of mohair to fill the gap. You won’t need this extra piece for the wig with pigtails since the part goes all the way across the doll’s head.
I use white glue (Elmer’s or Tacky Glue) for wigs. Start by running a line of glue over the top of the doll’s head.
Then place the loose mohair into the glue. Yes, it gets messy.
Put more glue over the pate and the center section of mohair.
Cut the stitching to 1/4″ and tuck it under.
Smooth the mohair evenly over the doll’s head, keeping the part straight. Don’t worry if a bit of glue seeps through. It dries clear.
Here’s how it looks in the back, with the center section added.
Cover with plastic wrap and let the glue dry. When it is dry, peel the wig cap gently away from the under layer of plastic wrap and you’re ready to style the wig.
For bangs (or fringe), place the center section of the wig forward, leaving it long enough to trim the bangs/fringe later.
For a single braid, divide the mohair into three sections and braid tightly.
For pigtails, divide the hair into two even sections, then braid each section. I use string to tie the braids. Sometimes I use a small pair of forceps to hold the knot while tying it.
The bangs/fringe always want to stick straight out, so I wet them, then tape them into position with hair set tape. This tape is easy to remove, but sticks to wet hair.
The ends of the hair and the bangs/fringe will be too thick, so I thin them with sharp scissors. I cut up into the hair, then comb out the excess with the scissors. Do this over a trash can. It’s messy.
I sometimes wet the ends and wrap them with tape to get a more natural look.
Here are three different wigs, made with the same method, for my triple flip dolls. I’ll add ribbon bows to cover the string later.
You can use sharp scissors to trim away the flyaway bits. Don’t pull the flyaways or you’ll make a mess. If you like, you can use hair spray to smooth out the wig, but it will stiffen it.
There are lots more options for hair styles with this type of wig. You can curl the hair, make a side part, make a short bob, etc.
Please let me know if you have any questions or comments about this tutorial. I love to hear from my readers.