I remember when my editor called me to break the news that they simply didn't have enough room to include the Little Amigo Doll pattern in my book, Growing Up Sew Liberated. I was in a toy store. And boy, I'd never felt my stomach hit the floor in a toystore before.
After I got over my initial shock, I went into debate mode and managed to keep what I felt was the creative core of the book in said book. I did have to compromise, though. The doll wig tutorial couldn't be included. "Okay, okay," I capitulated. "I'll just post it as a tutorial on my blog."
Over a year later ... ahem ... here it is!
You'll just need your cute, bald doll head and ...
-a crochet hook or a latch hook
-some magnificent yarn for doll hair
-thread to match the yarn
-a hand sewing needle
-and a skill you all learned in second grade ... braiding.
You see, I'm not about to make you go and learn how to actually crochet. That's too hard - a bump in the road that keeps many of us (me included) from getting on the doll wig horse in the first place. Nope. All you have to know is how to do a simple braid. It's really quite easy - you braid, you wind the braid around the doll's head, and you stitch the winded braid to the doll's scalp. You can do it!
This method creates the same kind of crocheted cap that doll-making enthusiasts tout for its versatility and durability. A cap keeps the scalp skin from peeking out and it allows you to style the doll's hair however you'd like. It's also the best method for making short doll hair, like this little fellow here, modeled after my son, Lachlan.
To begin, cut three very long lengths of yarn. You can see in the photo above that I've opted to double up my yarn, using a fuzzy merino strand and a more sturdy strand and treating each pair as one length of yarn for the purposes of braiding. I did this to make the scalp a bit more fuzzy and wild - just like my little boy.
Knot the three lengths of yarn together and secure the knot to the crown of the head, at the midpoint between where you envision the hairine to hit at the nape of the neck and the forehead. Use a whip stitch, your coordinating thread, and your hand sewing needle.
Begin braiding! Be mindful of the long lengths of yarn so they don't get tangled at your feet. (And lock any cats in the guest room!)
Once you have about a 4 inch length of braid, begin winding the braid around the knot, taking care to lay the braid flat against the scalp. Handstitch the braid to the scalp as you go.
Note that I'm stitching on both the top and bottom edges of the braid so that it continues to lie flat. You don't want to crowd your handstitches - every 1/2" cm or so will do. You want to leave enough space to be able to hook on the yarn "hair" later, while making sure that you don't leave a gap that will cause the doll's scalp to show through.
Braid, wind, stitch, braid, wind, stitch - you might get to the point where you start to run out of a strand of your braid yarn. No worries - just use a secure knot to attach another length of yarn to the length that's in short supply and continue braiding. Hide the knot on the bottom of the braid.
When you have covered the entire scalp with your braided cap, you will need to knot off the braid at the nape of the neck, tuck the knotted portion under the previously tacked-down braids, and wiggle it around a bit so that it's not showing. Secure the knot to the scalp with several small whip stitches. Cut off any excess yarn and weave it underneath other braids as well.
Now comes the fun (and time-consuming) part - hooking in the hair yarn. Start at the top of the head, in the same place where you started braiding. Work outwards from the center until you reach the hairline. These photos were taken at the end of the process - I'm working on the hairline.
Slip the crochet hook underneath one of the braided strands. Hook a length of yarn (or two, if you like the doubled-up look) on the end of the crochet hook and pull the hook and yarn underneath the braided strand. Alternatively, you could use a latch hook to accomplish this part, which will save you some time. If you want a long-haired doll, then the lengths of yarn you will use here will be twice as long as you want your doll's finished hair. If you want a doll with short hair, you can use 5" lengths of yarn and trim the hair to your desired short length after you're done.
Drop the crochet hook, open up the yarn so that it forms a loop around your fingers of your right hand, and bring the yarn in your left hand through the middle of the loop in your right hand.
Pull the yarn through the loop and tighten.
Repeat. And repeat. And repeat. Eventually, you'll have a wonderful little doll with a head of crazy hair. You can cut it to your desired length and style however suits your fancy.
Happy doll making!