Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The Beginning – What You Need To Get Started

I first started practising by just doing random knots on a small piece of tulle. The basic materials you need to get started at this stage are:

A styrofoam head - You can get one of these for around $4 in the US or upwards of £7 in the UK. Good places to get them: on ebay, Amazon or from beauty supplies stores and wig shops.

A ventilating needle – There are two types of needle: German and Korean. I have the German needle in sizes 2 and 1. I actually recently broke the #2 needle by dropping it on the floor (which crushed the hook part, rendering it unusable). However, the reason I started with the German style needle is because it was recommended to me. I am hoping to buy some Korean needles to try sometime. I think that which type you choose comes down to personal preference. The difference seems to be mainly in the shape of the “hook” part – on the German needle it is like a number 7; on a Korean needle it is like a J. The number relates to the amount of hair that the hook picks up.

A ventilating needle holder - You can get these with handles made from brass, wood or plastic. The cheapest is plastic. I like my plastic one, although I wouldn't mind trying the wooden one. I am not a fan of brass as I do not like the smell of the metal on my hands. I also think that a brass one would be rather heavy compared to the plastic or wood. 

Blue paper or Scotch-Blue Painters Tape – Either will do, but the paper is cheaper in the UK. For some reason the tape is expensive over here. You need one of these options to put on top of your styrofoam head so that you can see your lace, tulle, mesh or mono without straining your eyes. I prefer lighter coloured blue as it creates more of a contrast.

Light – A good lamp for working in low-light conditions is a necessity. In the daytime in the spring and summer, if you have a bright, sunny room then you can work without supplemental light. However, if you want to work in the evening or during the autumn and winter then you will need a bright light. There are so many different kinds and I shall be doing another separate blog post about them later, however, the cheapest option you can usually find is a desk type lamp which allows you to angle to 'neck' of it to illuminate the part you are working on.

Hair – You can use 'old' hair or buy some cheap wefted human hair from an online store or beauty supplier. I use 'old' hair that I cut from the wefts of a processed human hair wig that I no longer want. If you can do this, it is a good way to save some money. There is definitely no need to buy bulk or expensive hair at this stage as you are just practising and won't be wearing what you are making.

Scissors & Pins – Most people have these items already, but if you don't then you will need a small pair of embroidery scissors and some pins such as ball head pins or t-pins. If you have a pair of nail scissors, you can use them instead of buying embroidery ones. You will also need a larger pair, such as fabric scissors, for cutting your tulle or net. However, again if you have regular scissors that you use to cut things like wrapping paper, they will suffice at this stage.

Tulle or Net – I bought some white tulle from a local sewing shop; it does not cost much at all. I was also given some by a friend in a different colour. The tulle/net comes in different patterns. I have both diamond and honeycomb shaped tulle; either will do, but honeycomb shapes are more consistent with the Swiss, French and German lace that you will be using later if you decide to make a proper wig or hair piece. Please note, you can only use this type of net for practising on as it is quite fragile and will easily rip and tear if you are rough with it. For example, I have stuck T-pins into it and they have become stuck and ripped. If you are just starting out and already have some small offcuts from full lace wigs or lace front wigs, you can also use those to practice a few knots on.

If you search for wig making supplies on Google, you will find the wig making supplies companies for your area. In the UK there is one main one and there are a couple in Europe. In the US there are couple that have a big online presence, as well as lots of theatre and stage make-up supplies companies that sell small selections of wig making products.

Optional – You can buy a plastic clamp to secure the wig head to a table or other surface. I have one, but I don't use it for wig making; I prefer to use the styrofoam head on my lap, as I usually sit on a comfy seat.

It is a good idea to get your eyes tested before you engage in this type of close up work. Some people find that using a magnifier or magnifying lamp is helpful as it not only helps you to see better, but also can ease/prevent eye strain.

There is more equipment that you will need to buy later if you wish to make an actual wig. I will list other items in another post.


  1. where do you buy the german ventilating needle?

    1. The suppliers listed here - http://makingwigs.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/starting-out-in-wig-making-supplies.html - should have them