Monday, 28 January 2013

Making a Wig Foundation with Lace - Important Considerations ~ Laying Your Lace

I had a query today about how I made the parting on the wig I am making, as it appears so clearly defined and straight. It got me thinking about some of the things I have learnt since starting to experiment with making wigs. One thing I remember researching a lot is: wig foundations (bases/caps). Reason being: a. this was something I am quite obsessive about (due to my hair loss and needing comfort and realism) and b. because if this aspect is not quite right, then the whole thing is pretty much wrong!

When you make a foundation (wig base/cap) with lace, you really need to take your time. There are a few things that it is important to get right at this stage, as they will otherwise affect the wig at a later stage when it is impossible to rectify them.

One of the aspects of making a foundation that needs to be taken into account is how you place your lace. Let's rewind a bit...

When you want to make a foundation, you need to take either a head mould or some measurements of the head that you will be fitting the wig foundation to, and then transfer these onto your canvas or wooden block. Of course, you can take both a head mould and measurements and use them together if you so desire. In my case I am currently using a canvas block, so I put blue tape over it, which allows me not only to have better vision as it makes the lace and hair more contrasting against the block, but also gives me the ability to mark out patterns, measurements and shapes on the block to help me with making the foundation and later ventilating the hair. Once I have marked the block with the head pattern I need to follow, I then take the lace and start to pin it to the block to make the 'form' of the foundation, which can then be sewn where necessary.

At this stage it is vital that one takes into consideration the direction of the lace holes on the different parts of the head/wig. For example, like fabric, regular lace (not the stretch kind) has a bias which means that if you pull it when it is oriented in this position, it will stretch or give somewhat. You do not want to pin the lace when it is on the bias, as it will have stretch to it. If you don't know about the bias of material, then take a fresh piece of square or oblong lace, and hold it on the diagonal (like a diamond shape). Gently tug the corners. You will see it stretches or gives slightly. This is the bias. You would not want to pin the fabric with this being on your vertical or horizontal part of the wig (so not on the front to nape or ear to ear over the top) as otherwise the wig will stretch and move in a most undesirable way.

One of the main areas you want to carefully lay lace is the front hairline to crown. This is the part which everyone looks at the most when they are talking to or interacting with someone wearing a wig. Ideally on the front hairline to the crown AKA the vertex, the lace holes should be marching straight backwards in a nice line and straight across the head in another straight line - you would see the holes lining up in rows going across the head, and rows going backwards towards the crown - not on the diagonal. If you pin your lace on the bias in this area, the holes will be on the diagonal and not straight down and across. This would cause a problem when you came to ventilate the hair onto the foundation as the hair would not fall into part-able rows. It would be criss-crossed.

Here is an example of pinning the lace and the lace direction.This image should be clickable to enlarge. See the picture below for a close up of the lace holes. The arrows and lines represent the two directions of the hole: straight from the crown to the front, and across from left to right.
Note how I am smoothing the lace in the vertex section to get it nice and taut.

By following this structure when pinning your lace to the block, you should end up with rows of hair that can then be parted from front hairline to the crown as a normal part line would be. For some people this is too linear and perfect, in which case you can just part a messier parting by carefully using your comb in a more random zig-zag manner when making the part line. My own bio hair always had a very linear part line for some reason, which is why I tend to favour that a little.

 You can see the orientation of the lace holes on this picture more clearly, and how it produces a very crisp part line. In fact, if you ventilate more heavily than I do, the part line will look even more delineated because it will be denser hair around the parting.

There is second consideration when laying the lace onto the block. It is important to lay the lace for the front hairline to the crown as flat and taut as possible. You do not want this material to be rucked up, as if it is the wig will not lay flat or moulded well to the head/scalp shape. This is the case for all wigs, but is especially noticeable in lace front and full lace wigs, because you need the lace to adhere flat to the skin where you are bonding in order for it to look flawless and undetectable. If you have too much material or it was not pulled taut and smooth when making the foundation, you will end up with small gathers in the lace when you bond, which causes a rippling effect against the skin. This can also happen if the wig is too small and is pulling at the skin. For this reason, keep smoothing the lace fabric down gently with the palm of your hand as you pin; you may find you need to unpin, smooth and re-pin as you go. One of the reasons for this is because as you pin in another place on the block, you may find the way you have already pinned it elsewhere is not optimal and needs to be adjusted. A little bit fiddly, but worth the effort in the long-run.

I shall continue this mini series with a further couple of posts about other things that are wise to take into account when making your foundation and laying your lace down.


  1. Hello, thank you for all the info!
    I just have a question though..
    What type of lace do you recommend?
    I'm from Greece so I have a hard time using english terms for the lace I need. (Simply saying swiss or french lace won't do it)
    Maybe you could tell me how this lace should look like? (how soft, how large are the wholes, is it strechy etc) so i would know what I'm looking for...
    Also, one last thing, I search my lace at fabric stores, do you think there's another place more qualified for me to search?
    Sorry for the terribly long message!

    1. Hi

      I have replied to you here:

      Hope this helps