This month I set myself the challenge of figuring out how to attach yarn hair to rag dolls. After mastering short curly hairdos on my housekeeping fairies its time to try longer styles. I created a couple of practice toys and got to work with a pile of pretty yarns. Many of my yarns are from the thrift store so they are in limited quantities. Luckily my toys are small so a little is usually enough!
There are lots of interesting hair diagrams and tutorials on Pinterest and YouTube. I didn't want to make my practice toys too complicated while I figured out what weights and combinations of yarns I like best. Here's how I attached the yarn to my practice toys:
1. Make several yarn bundles by knotting 3-4 strands (loops) of yarn together. The amount of bundles you will need depends upon your toy's head size and the thickness of the yarn. For my toy I made 13 bundles. Sandwich the yarn between two 4" wide half moons of muslin and pin to hold. Zigzag stitch the muslin and yarn together along the curved edge of the muslin, leaving the straight center open.
2. Trim the knots from the yarn above your zigzag stitching. This is to reduce bumpiness along the hairline of your toy. Carefully trim away the centers of the muslin "half moons" with snips so you are left with a curved band of hair. If your yarn hair is long, tie it into a loose pony tail so it doesn't catch in the seams of your toy as you sew.
3. Sandwich your hair along the muslin band between the front and back fabric of your toy (right sides together). Pin and sew toy together, leaving an opening at the base to turn it right side out.
4. Turn toy right side out. Trim hair length by cutting off the loops and braid yarn if you like. Your toy is ready for stuffing!
My test toys are made of muslin and cotton in a simple keyhole shape. I added patterned fabric "dresses" so I could size the hair to a face shape. Usually I embroider faces on my toys before sewing them together. These are just test toys but I might add faces to them anyway because they're kind of cute! If I were to give these toys to a child for play, I would tack down the hair at the back of the head just above the neckline to secure it. The orange pompom trim on the white haired doll was tacked on after the toy was stuffed.
This is how I create the curly short 'do for my fairies. The yarn is extra thick so I loop it around in swirls, pinning it as I go until I have most of the head covered. Then I tack it down using embroidery thread in a color that coordinates. This particular yarn isn't suitable for loose long hair because it sheds and gets frizzy if its not tacked down. Its super soft and pretty swirled on the heads of my fairy housekeepers.
My next challenge is to add bangs for longer hairdos. I'll keep experimenting and let you know what I discover.
I also just purchased Jess Brown's book The Making of a Rag Doll. Her dolls are sophisticated and beautifully handmade. In the book she reveals she uses strips of old cashmere sweaters for her doll hair but I'll probably start with felt or thrifted wool. I'm excited to learn her techniques for making doll clothes and play with the patterns she included in the back of the book!