Dwarf Wig Tutorial Part 2 – Sewing and Styling
As I'd mentioned in Part 1 of this series, Dwarf wigs for Tolkien cosplay have a unique set of challenges when it comes to obtaining them: commercially available wigs don't have right texture, as they're smooth and silky, not rough and with a bit of kink/frizz. Additionally, when making dwarf wigs, you need them very full, and you want extra hair available for making extra wefts, braids, beards, etc. It just makes sense to make the wig from scratch.
While a standard way of making wigs from scratch is to build on a weave cap, that doesn't work for me - I have a LOT of hair to hide under the wig, so weave caps never fit me.
Instead of using the wig cap as-is, I decided that 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'd never done anything like it before, and winged it the whole way.
It was a ton of work - and my finger tips were raw for days afterward - but now I have the best fitting wig I've ever owned! Here is how I did it:
First, I tried on the weaving cap that would serve as the (partial) base for this new wig, and determined how much size I was missing, and where. I needed about 3" of extra fullness front to back, and 1.5" from side to side.
I checked an Arda wig we had on hand to get an idea of how many front-to-back strips are usually used, and sewed a few strips of elastic in place to the front of the weave cap, situating the ends of elastic / seam on the reinforced section of the cap. I pinned them in place on the back, fussing with the lengths, until I had something symmetrical that looked like it would fit. (That is, I measured the middle elastic to be 3" longer than the section of wig cap it would be over, then tapered down the lengths of the strips on either side to create a decent shape). O
Once I was satisfied with the size/shaping of this new base, I sewed the ends to the back of the weaving cap.
I placed the cap on a wig head. Note - This is WAY too small for any human head, so I was careful to stretch it over, pin it in place, and be mindful of the fact that I was basically *freehanding* it the whole way.
Starting at the very back of the wig, I sewed a short piece of weft to the back flap of the wave cap, and another one just under 1" higher than that one.
I kept sewing wefts, aiming to keep them about 3/4-1" apart at the center of the wig cap. As I began each weft, I measured across the section it would be coving, taking care to not squish down the vertical strips of elastic that they would be sewn to. The ends of each weft were sewn down very close to the previous weft ends.
As I sewed each weft, I would stitch it down to the first inch or so of weave cap, then knot it off before only sewing the weft to the vertical strips, distributing the length of weft evenly across the strips, holding the strips in place, not pulling them off to either side.
Once I got about 1/3 of the way up, I took the cap/partial wig off the wig head, pulled all of the pins out, and trimmed out the excess wig cap from under my strips. I had enough wefts sewn on to hold everything in place, so it was time to try it on.
Here is what it looked like on the inside:
I tried it on, with my hair under a wig cap, as I would when wearing the wig. As it turned out, one side was a little long, so I pinched the difference on those pieces and pinned them down in the front. I would later sew them down, as I got closer to it. (Wasn't in the mood to sew them when I pinned them, so I procrastinated. )
I continued sewing wefts to the strips, trying to keey the curves of the wefts consistent with the shape of the remaining wig cap.
Eventually, I came to the front flap of the wig cap. Based on my design, I sewed one last weft, and cut it off there. This would be where there would be a very obvious part, which I would be covering with a braid.
I cut the elastic down on a few remaining wefts to be about 1/2 the width they started with, to remove some bulk when sewing the "bangs" in. Starting at the front edge of the wig cap, I sewed these down, much closer together than the main wefts had been.
The final bangs weft was sewn so that the edge of it touched the edge of the final weft from the main body of the wig.
Now that the wig was completely done, I gave it a quick brushing to remove any loose hairs, and got started with styling it. I wanted a combination of two strand twists, and 3 strand small braids coming from the front, which would start just under the braid across the bangs. As I braided and twisted, I was careful to not take too much hair from any location - I didn't want wefts / cap to show from underneath, as bald spots.
Additionally, there would be a large, thick braid from the center of the wig, extending down the back. Inspiration struck, and I taught myself how to do a 4 strand braid. This was the first I've ever done - i didn't even have to take it out and redo! Was very proud of that.
After braiding the larg braid and typing it off with a strip of elastic (more on that later), I started looping the mini braids around the back, and over/under each other and the main braid, sewing everything in place.
I was careful to keep both sides symmetrical to each other - brad length, size of the loop, where it laid, etc.
The fat main braid was much too short for the actual wig (as I suspected it would be), so I made a separate braid from additional braiding hair, with a clear elastic holding it together at the beginning of the braid. I love how it formed brown and black diagonal stripes. Should I say "I meant to do that"? LOL. I have no idea how it happened. That is literally the second 4 strand braid I'd ever made.
I inserted the top of this loose braid into the main body braid, right under some of the mini braid looping, and sewed it down thoughout the length of the remaining end of that original braid, if that makes sense. Aside from being slightly bigger than the original braid, you totally can't see the transition. Kinda shocked myself!
I didn't take progress shots of this next part, so I'll describe.
The bangs were to be separated with a part up the center. I didn't worry about the wefts showing / bald spot, as I intended to have a chain and large fake sapphire jewel sewn down in it.
I twisted the hair on either side of the part backwards, and out/back towards the ear. I tied each side off and sewed it back behind where the ear was, allowing the remaining ends to hang down as ponytails.
Then I braided some additional loose hair into yet ANOTHER 4 strand braid, tied the ends off with small, clear elastics, and sewed that across the bangs/main hair part, and over the tied-off sections of the bangs, behind the ears. The ends of the braid were sen down a bit behind the ears, completely hidden by the main hair.
Then, I divided those two ponytails into 3 equal sections anbd braided them. Not only wasthis a handy way to deal with that excess hair, it's a bit of a nod to Thorin's design - he had one such braid on each side, each pulled forward with a bead on the end.
Though not shown in this pic, I ordered 6 "Kili" beads from Dwarvendom on Etsy. (I also ordered one "Fili" bead at the same time, for the beard)
Finally, I attached the jewel to a chunky chain that I liked, and worked the ends of the chain up under the "headband" braid, and around the back, to be secured together with a jump ring under the thick main braid.
.... and done! Tomorrow, I'll post a "How I Made That" for the beard that accompanied this.
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.