How to make hair for your cloth character

Everyone has a different way of making hair for their cloth characters and given enough time, you will develop your own favorites. This article is not a complete list of make hair for dolls – an entire book could be written and still leave stuff out. But I hope to get you started and maybe introduce some materials and methods you’re not familiar with.

Table of Contents

Materials and Methods

To start off with an introduction, this video shows different materials I’ve used for hair and talks about several methods. The videos further down will show you how some of those methods are done.

Materials:

  • Curly Minky or Poodle Fleece – used in the ITH fur wig – I’ve found this at WalMart and JoAnne stores.  There are a few online sources but colors will vary. 
  • Faux fur – various places that sell fabric or thrifted garments
  • Teeswater locks from Big Sky Fiber Arts on Etsy
  • Smooth Mohair Yarn from A Child’s Dream {they also sell the cotton jersey doll skin fabric in all these samples on this page}

Tools:

I’ve spent some time putting all my favorite tools into one place in the Ballyhoo Creations shop so you can easily find what you need.  {the shop contains affiliate links, but descriptions will also provide alternate sources to help you out.}  These tutorials used:

  • that purple thang
  • doll needles
  •  Fabri-tac glue
  • tear-away stabilizer
  • Frixion Pen
  • Doll Designs by Ballyhoo Creations

Natural or Synthetic fibers?

You have many choices with doll hair but they can be grouped into 2 broad categories:  Natural fibers and synthetic fibers.  Which one should you use?

The natural fibers are things like wool, silk or mohair yarn, any kind of wool locks, or even natural furs.  They have a “real” hair look to them and can be very beautiful.  The downside of natural fibers is PETS.  Dogs and Cats can still smell the animal those fibers came from and will often seek and destroy any doll made with wool, mohair or other animal fiber.  So use caution!  This is especially important for children’s toys because they’re beloved new friend {doll} might get eaten by their beloved old friend {pet.}

Synthetic fibers are things like acrylic or nylon yarns, synthetic furs, or packaged doll hair from the craft store.  These are usually cheaper, but often they have a “plastic” shine to them so they’re used less for art dolls and more for play dolls.  There are always exceptions!  And synthetics don’t entice your pet to chew them to bits so that’s a big plus.  These also are more likely to come in more colors so you may have more choices, although that is changing with small sellers offering hand dyed yarns and locks these days.

I highly recommend you play with various fibers and try them yourself if you can.  Or just pick one you love and stick with it.  There’s no right or wrong way to make your creations.  But knowing about the Pet problem and natural fibers is a heartbreak I’d rather you avoid.  Nobody wants to see their new cloth character reduced to fluff and bits on the floor.

In-the-Hoop faux fur wig

This is my favorite method because it’s done in the machine embroidery hoop {ITH= in the hoop} so the hair is done when the doll head is stitched.  You’ll need faux fur for this method and I’m using some curly fleece for the video tutorial but I’ll share pics of other dolls using this method. 
{The beards are glued on after the hair is finished.}

Yarn wig {with braids}

Looping yarn around a book or card is a tried and true method of creating hair for your dolls and characters.  You can use any kind of yarn for so many different looks.  {caution!  this can lead to yarn hoarding.  don’t ask me why I know this.}

The next video show how to stitch the yarns to make a part for the doll, then you can glue or stitch it to the doll’s head and style it however you like.  

I tend to use the smooth mohair yarn for this so I can comb it out, or leave it as fuzzy yarn.  

Brushable mohair yarn

I’m not the expert on brushing out a mohair yarn wig.  But I learned about the technique from the Waldorf doll community and decided to figure out my own method with this special type of yarn.  Watch the video and maybe you’ll get some creative ideas of your own with this mohair yarn.

Wool Locks - stitched or glued

Last but not least are the wool locks that make the most gorgeous and natural looking curly hair.  If you’re skilled with hair, you can even strighten or style these locks like human hair but that’s a job for somebody more ambitious that me!  The video tutorial show a stitched wig and also a glued wig using teeswater locks but you could do it with any type of locks, wefts or synthetic doll hair.

Wow!  That was a huge info dump.  Are you still with me?  I really hope that helped you decide how to customize your own cloth art dolls – or any doll could be adapted to use some of those methods.

Did you have a favorite?  I’d love to hear about it in the comment section. 

Any questions on how these methods work?  Were there muddy parts of my explanations?  I’ll try to answer in the comments section below.

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