Dwarf Wig Tutorial Part 1 - Making Wefts
Dwarf wigs are a pain - none of the commercially available wigs have the right texture, and then there's the matter of having hair available for braids, extra wefts, beard making, etc. Makes most sense to make them from scratch.
Problem: Weave caps never fit over my head/hair right! I always have my own hairline sticking out, always adjusting, they move, etc.
So this time, I decided to get creative with it. Instead of using the wig cap as-is, I would use the outer edge/border of it (which would fit, if not for the main body of the cap not being full enough), with straps of elastic sewn onto it, Arda-style (rather than a full mesh base).
I caulked my silicone-strip homemade wefts to more strips of elastic, and painstakingly hand sewed it all together, fairly freehand, on a too-small mannequin head, before cutting out the main body of the original weave cap.
Well, it was a ton of work - and my finger tips are raw - but now I have the best fitting wig I've ever owned!
It's full, designed such that it'll work perfectly for the design I have in mind, fits PERFECTLY, and the elastic/silicone are grippy enough that it stays RIGHT in place - no clips or bobby pins needed, even with ALL that hair!
Here is how I made it 🙂
Before doing anything else, I had to design it. Dís is Thorin's sister, daughter of Thráin II, and mother to Fili and Kili. So: dwarf royalty.
On one hand, I kind of wanted to do something crazy with both the wig and beard - Thorin's was so plain, I always had beard envy over people doing the other dwarves. While this was slightly quelled when I did Mini Bombur, but that was her wearing it - not me. I wanted a crazy beard, damnit!
On the other hand... Thorin was really basic. He had 4 braids in his hair, as far as I could tell - two larger in the back, two smaller that pulled through to the front, 1 bead on each. His beard was short and unadorned. While I didn't want to do basically a Fem!Thorin costume, I thought it would be nice to at least reflect some Thorin type influence in the style.
Ultimately, I decided to go fairly basic, but more girly. Most of the hair down, but some braids looped up and around back. I planned for bangs, and a "headband" of a thicker braid. I wasn't quite sure exactly how I wanted the braids to go, but I knew I'd need a lot of thickness up top to draw from Because of the thick braid up front, I wanted an obvious part where that would be, for a clear view of where I would be sewing it. The hair behind it would be sewn to aim back over the head, the hair in front of it would aim down to the front, as bangs.
All of this would determine how I'd be sewing the wefts on.
I prefer to make dwarf wigs with the silicone caulking method of making wefts. I'd done it on my sewing machine, and I hate it. Some people prefer sewing machine - do whatever you like. I like making nice, thick wefts for dwarves.
First, I cut a couple dozen pieces of parchment paper, about 4" wide. Pretty sure wax paper would also work, but I never have any. (I only back with parchment!). For this, I'm aiming for about 24 wefts, so I cut 25 strips - you'll want 1 more strip than you have wefts.
I also cover my table with medical exam table paper. I buy the stuff by the case not only for stuff like this, but for pattern making. I use a 6' long banquet table, and can do all my wefts for a wig in one shot.
Then, the hair. I like to order jumbo braid hair from Doctored Locks. Tons of colours, cheap, easy to work with, and they ship FAST. Perfect! This stuff has a bit of a kick to it (perfect for dwarves), but can be ironed out to flat and smooth.
For this wig, I used 6 packages of hair, 2 each of three different colours. I find that mixing colours looks more natural and interesting than 1 colour.
Open the packages for one each of the three colours, and cut each in half at the elastic. Set the side with elastic still attached for later, work with the loose pieces.
Lining up the freshly cut edges, stack the three colours and spread / mash around a bit to mix slightly.
Lay 1 strip of parchment across your work surface - perpendicular to you - at a far end of the table. Tape the ends down to secure slightly (tape doesn't stick to the parchment very well).
Take a small amount of hair from the pile, and spread out along the length of the parchment. You want it fairly solidly covered, but not SUPER thick. Aim to keep the cut edges fairly even, about 1" from the edge of the parchment (ie allowing the hair to cover ~3 of paper).
Using 1" wide masking tape (which I did not have, only 2" on hand and was feeling too lazy to go to Menards!), lay a strip of tape across the very edge of the hair, extending on to the paper work surface to hold it in place.
Lay another strip of parchment across the hair. I usually leave about 1" of hair showing, between the top edge of the new parchment, and the bottom edge of the tape I just placed. Tape edges down, being sure to not catch hair under the tape.
Lay out hair and tape down, like in the previous steps.
Continue doing that, all the way down the table. I find that I'll average about 4 wefts per package of hair, so you'll get about 6 wefts from that first set of 3 halves. When you run out of hair, use the other half from those first set of braids, then proceed on to the next set of three when you run out of those. The less hair you have laying around as you work, the better - it can get messy, FAST.
Eventually, you'll have a table full of wefts laid out, like this:
Next, you'll need a tube of CLEAR silicone caulking, like this. Usually about $3-4. One tube usually does at LEAST 1 full wig worth of wefts, for me - but buy 2, just in case.
Carefully pipe a line of caulking on each weft, JUST against the tape line It doesn't need to touch the tape, but should be close.
Have a bowl of water on hand. Dip your finger in water, and smooth the caulking down and INTO the hair. I'll mash it in, and extend slightly up onto the tape, the full way across. Take your time, be careful not to catch hair on the tip of the caulking tube, etc.
When you have all the wefts done, leave it alone for a few hours, until the caulking has dried clear. (It has NOT dried, in this pic!)
Once everything has dried clear, carefully cut the tape at each weft, so that the parchment/wefts can move freely. Remove the last 3 or so wefts you made, and set aside for now.
The new "last" weft you made, flip over so that the tape side is down, and near the edge of the table. Arrange a strip of parchment under it.
Tape the hair down, using the previous long strip of tape as a guide. You want to have this new strip of tape almost exactly on top of the first strip. Repeat the flipping / taping for all wefts. At the end, do the same with the "last" few wefts that you'd set aside. BE SURE TO PUT PARCHMENT UNDER EACH STRIP YOU FLIP.
Here's a close view of what it looks like as you flip each piece:
Pipe a new strip of caulking along each weft, aiming to be right on top of the first strip of caulk. Wet the finger, mash it down in once again. Allow to dry fully.
Once everything is fully dried, cut every strip of tape to free the wefts from the table. Use the edge of the tape as a guide, cut the tape right off, leaving a straight edge of wefted hair/caulking. Cut off any extra globs of caulking at the edge of each weft, and you're good to go!
Part 2 has been posted: Making the wig cap, sewing it together, and styling.
In the meantime, be sure to "like" my costuming page on Facebook for more progress pics, tips, and other fun stuff: Marie Porter, Cosplay Costumer.
Note: If you're looking for a quote on custom costuming, please contact me through my costuming page, www.evilcostumeoverlord.com.