– Sewing: how to make dolls hair

Part 1: how to sew girls hair : pigtails

I want to show you how I make doll’s hair out of knitting yarn.

First you need to draw a line on your doll’s head, starting from her forehead all the way over her head to her neckline where you want the hair to end. Measure that line (e.g. 15 cm). Then take some Scotch tape (= the same length as the line you’ve just measured) and put it with the adhesive strip up on your table.

Now measure how long you want the hair to be, e.g. from her left shoulder straight up over her head to her right shoulder (26 cm in this example).

Now place the yarn one thread at a time on the tape (don’t cut them!), as shown in the picture. Make sure they lie neatly next to one another.

Place a piece of paper tissue (I’ve used toilet paper) on top of the centre line.
Carefully turn everything around and start sewing over the tape with the paper tissue at the bottom. (Use little stitches!)

Remove the tape and the tissue. Do this very slowly and with extreme care to avoid moving any hair. You might want to use tweezers for this.

Place this ‘wig’ on the line you’ve drawn earlier on your doll’s head. Make sure you keep the right and left side separated so the stitched line is still visible. Now pin and sew it manually in place, starting from the forehead and ending at the neckline.

Once you’re done with this, you can use some fabric glue to keep the hair in place if desired.

Now draw a line on both sides of the doll’s head, as shown in the picture.

Take the first 4 threads and sew them on this line. Then take the next 4 threads and do exactly the same.

Repeat this until all threads are sewn in place.

There she is: one side is already sewn in place.

Once you’ve done both sides you can make pigtails and sew on a nice ribbon to render the stitches invisible!

You can make all kinds of hair using this method. You could make bangs (in this case you have to sew very short threads of yarn on the Scotch tape and sew it on top of the doll’s head before you sew the long hair!). Or you could use ‘ribbon-yarn’ or strips of fabric. I guess I must try that one out on my next doll.

part II: how to sew boys hair

For the boys I use the same method, but I sew the wigs in another direction on the head. Because you need more wigs, to cover the head completely, I use a quicker method to sew the wigs. This is how it goes: 

1. Measure the dolls head from ear to ear (over the back of the head). This is the length of tape you need. I use no longer the Scotch tape, but I use masking tape, which is less strong, and easily to remove from the yarn. Also important: you can sew right onto this tape and there is no need for tissue paper any more.

2. the length of the yarn = 2x the length of the desired hair. For a boy I usually take 5cm, so you need to cut threads of 10cm. As you see on the picture, I use a little book for quick and easy cutting the yarn. Now place the yarn one thread at a time on the tape. Make sure they lie neatly next to one another.

3. Start sewing over the yarn with the tape at the bottom. Use little stitches, and press the yarn down with your fingers so it won’t get stuck under your presserfoot.

4. Remove the tape. Do this very slowly and with extreme care to avoid moving any hair. You might want to use tweezers for this.

5. Place this ‘wig’ horizontally on the backside of your doll’s head. Now pin and sew it manually over the stitched line of your wig.  When you’ve done this, you fold the hair down and the first row of hair is done. 

6. You make as many of these wigs as you need and sew them at 1cm above eachother on the dolls head. Make sure you sew the last one a little over the seam of the head (which means: on the forehead).  Notice: the shorter the hair, the more wigs you need.  This is how it looks before the haircut:

7. And this is after the haircut:

8. You can use this method also for a girl with loose hair. For example, the last ‘wig’ of this girl is sewn not at the center of the threads, but a few cm on the right side:

91 gedachtes over “– Sewing: how to make dolls hair

  1. Lucy Locket-Pocket zegt:

    Brilliant!!!! The only sewing I was allowed to do at school was for 6 months when is was 11. We made a rag doll and to be different I was the only one to do a boy! We used the sellotape technique then but I have never been able to remember exactly how it was done so THANK YOU!!!!!!! I can’t wait to try it out again.

    Lucy xxx


  2. Jenn zegt:

    Thank you, thank you. I have been wondering how to do this. Thank you for taking the time to photograph it and write up the directions. Why do some things have to be such a mystery? I love people like you who are willing to share their knowledge. Thanks again.


  3. UmmLayla zegt:

    Thanks for the sweet and simple hair instructions!!! I usually dread doing hair because I put it in piece by piece, this is a great way to do it without all the struggle. Yeah!!!


  4. Ardita zegt:

    Thnx thangs so much it really helps me becuse i im gonna make a plastic doll and maybe i can make a yarn hair for it the plastic im gonna make is called casein out of milk a vinegar im gonna tried i don’t know if its gonna work but thanks any way


  5. Kelly zegt:

    This site was sooooooo helpful. First time I’ve ever attempted to make a doll and I had no idea how to do the hair. These are fantastic and easy-to-follow instructions ( the pics helped a lot) and my doll’s hair went smoothly and turned out just like the photos. Thank you so much!!!


  6. Cindy zegt:

    Thank you for posting these instructions. Been a long time since I made dolls and I always avoided doing the hair because it never looked right. Had a hard time just finding the hair and it came with no instructions other than to glue on. Thanks again. Cindy


  7. dot zegt:

    Thank you so much for your very clear instructions on making yarn doll hair.

    My doll gets the braid on each side but she also gets bangs. Can you tell me an easy way to do the bangs?


  8. umma zegt:

    Thank you for this tutorial, the pics are excellent. I’ve done half my dolls head (with backstitching) but, it seems like it may be able to be pulled out from it stitches any suggestions?


  9. hilde zegt:

    @umma: once you’ve sewn the hair on the side of the head, it can’t be pulled out anymore. But if you do a doll’s hair like this: http://www.tantehilde.be/wrdprss/?p=277 you sew over the tape as shown on the pictures, then remove the tape, then fold the hair on the stitched line and sew again at 2mm from this line and then sew it by hand on the head. For this type of hair I place the wig on the dolls head not on the vertical line, but horizontally. And I make like 4 or 5 of these ‘wigs’ and sew them on the back of the head starting with the lowest, and ending on the top of the head. Finally just one more little ‘wig’ that you place horizontally on the forehead. I hope you understand this without any more pictures?


  10. Mandie zegt:


    Thanks for a great tutorial, i wondered if you could help, i have been asked to make a gran and grandpa cloth doll, could you help me with their hair. They want the gran to have her hair in a bun.

    Hope you can help




  11. hilde zegt:

    @Mandie: there are 2 options for a bun: you make a ‘wig’ with this tutorial, and sew it in a circle (just like your own hairline goes: on top of the forehead, behind the ears, in the neckline). Then you gather the hair at the centerpoint of your circle and make a knot.
    Or you could do it with fabric, like i made this doll: http://www.tantehilde.be/v/tantehilde/poppen+en+knuffels/Afbeelding+126.jpg.html . I could make some drawings if you tell me which option you prefer.


  12. Renata Cavazzani zegt:

    Obrigada pelas explicações, comecei a confeccionar boneca de pano agora e me foi de grande valia.

    Renata Cavazzani – Ribeirão Preto – São Paulo – Brasil


  13. lorena zegt:

    i was recommended by a person i bought hair from she is brilliantly nice and cause i am new at making dolls she recommended i have a look at your site i will definately keep this and use it to place hair on the dolls i make thanking yu


  14. Pauline zegt:

    This looks brilliant, I can’t wait to renew the hair on the rag doll I made for my daughter 30+ years ago and give it to my new baby granddaughter. Thank you.


  15. Juanita zegt:

    Thank you for this tutorial on attaching hair to dolls. I’ve made a few Raggedy Ann dolls for my daughter in the past from a McCall’s pattern where you had to sew the hair on little by little and it took such a long time. I like the way they the dolls looked, but it’s good to know different way of applying hair to the dolls. Look forward to trying your method.


  16. Simeona zegt:

    Thanks for taking the time to give clear instructions and photos on making doll’s hair. I’ve only made one cloth doll and she ended up with a “bad hair day” but I don’t want to change her.
    My grand-daughter has nearly finished her first doll and we are hoping to give her a better hair-do. Now that we have your helpful hints it just might be possible.
    I’m also looking forward to making more dolls.

    Thanks Tante Hilde


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