One thing that opened a whole world of doll designing to me was figuring out how to do hair. Now I’ve got a few methods I like to use, and I’ve been wanting to do a tutorial about them for a while. As long as we’re all self-quarantined at home, we may as well spend some time doll making!
Firstly, you need 100% acrylic yarn. This is because it will slightly melt with heat, making it easy to shape or straighten. Secondly, you need a hair iron, the same type you’d use on your own hair. This can probably be done with a regular iron too, but I’ve never tried that. Thirdly, you need something to wrap the yarn around. I have a hairpin lace loom I use for this sometimes, because I can adjust the length better, but honestly any book or even your hand can work depending on how long you want it. You want something the same length as you want the hair, and it’s better to start with a longer length and plan to cut it.
First, wrap your yarn around your frame or book a whole bunch of times:
Then cut it at one end to make a bunch of strands of yarn that are twice as long as the thing you wrapped it around:
Now you want to pull apart each strand into it’s four component pieces:
Now you want to break out your hair iron. Taking a smaller clump (about half of what you see in the image), run the hair iron over it. It should become smooth. If your iron doesn’t get very hot, you can move it more slowly down the yarn. If it does get hot, just do a quick pass.
Jareth has kindly volunteered to be my model for this example. When making your head, make the area under the hair the same color as your hair. It will help a lot with filling in the look of the hair without needing to do as much. Imagine the tan area is all the same blue as above. I like to start at the hairline but you can start wherever you’re comfortable. I don’t recommend starting from the bottom because you’ll likely end up with a much thicker head of hair than planned.
Insert your hook between two stitches, and hook the middle of a strand:
Then hook the original length of the yarn and pull it through the loop formed in step one:
There are two directions it can go – with the knot or with the V. I like to position it so that the V shape shows along the hairline:
Here you can see the difference between one strand on the left and two on the right. For the hairline, two are best, but if the undertone is the same as the hair it won’t be as obvious as it is here.
Here it is after layering a few rows behind it:
I’m always sure to add hair to the hairline across the top of the head and the sides of the head, then fill in from there. If you have yarn attached to the sides of the face at the hairline, you don’t have to worry about the hair sliding while you’re holding it and showing the uncovered parts of the head.
Now you’ll need to cut and style the hair. this is the most terrifying part of the project. Be brave, but cut in stages when you get close to your preferred length so you don’t over cut and have to start over. (Taking out hair is pain!)
Using some hair spray can help hold the hair in position if it’s meant to be displayed. Depending on your preference, you can glue it some of the strands down in the back.
Here’s a completed doll made using this method:
And here she is flipped upside down so you can see how full her hair was (and why it’s not necessary to cover the entire head):
This method also works really well for dolls with ponytails. Just follow this method all the way around the edges of the hairline, then collect into a ponytail, like below:
Let me know how it goes, and feel free to ask questions below!