Sunday, 12 May 2013

Important Considerations When Making A Wig - Darts

Darts are an inevitability for a wig maker. If you don't know what a dart is, then here's an explanation:

The reason they are found in hand-made wigs and larger hairpieces is because both a wig and a large hairpiece (that encompasses the curves of the head) are not a flat shape. When flat fabric needs to make a rounded skull shape, some form of dart is involved. Another reason you may run into them along your wig making journey is when making alterations to a wig.

As I have mentioned before on this blog, I recommend gaining some sewing skills before you set about hand-making wig foundations and large hairpiece bases. Both of these tasks require not only sewing skills such as knowledge of various sewing stitches, haberdashery and perhaps how to use a sewing machine, but also an innate understanding of how to use fabric to design and make something you are evisaging in your head.

There are a few rules that should be followed when making wig foundations and hairpiece bases that incorporate darts:
  1. Unless the person you are making for has an uneven head shape (for some reason), aim to make the darts 'even'. That means: if you have a dart over one ear, you should have one over the other ear. In reality this usually means making the first dart smaller, and then making another dart the other side, taking up the rest of the slack you have realeased off the first dart you made (so basically halving the dart you had initially made). 
  2. Darts on the side should be turned towards the back.
  3. Darts on the crown and back should be turned towards the centre.
  4. With wigs, if pinned correctely darts should not be placed on the vertex. 
Here is a primative drawing (!) I did - excuse the egg-head:

The red triangles are the 'darts', the blue line on the side view is the wig edge. The red line denotes the middle of the wig; it is helpful to mentally divide the wig down the middle so that you ensure you have an equal dart on the opposite side. You can see why you would want the darts to be even, as it helps to create a symmetary to the wig shape and ensure it fits properly without being bulky. 

Example of darts placement on a wig - note that each one is mirrored by an equal on the opposite side


Re: #1 - When laying the lace/tulle/net/monofilament, or whatever fabric it is you are using to make the foundation/base, you will intially pin various points of the material and start to make darts as you lay and stretch the fabric to make the rounded scalp shape. As you then move further back, or around to the other side of the block/head, you will find that you need to unpin some points that you have already pinned in order to make the cap smooth and shaped correctly. In the case of darts, I try to pin both sides at the same time because I know I need to create an equal dart on the other side. I.e. if I am pinning a dart on the right side, I will start adjusting the left side in the same place/location, using temporary pins half-pushed-in (rather than completely pushed in/fixed) to hold sections, so that I create two equal darts on both sides, instead of one large one on one side. How many darts you end up using depends on the person's head shape that you are making the wig for, and how many pieces of material you are using to make the wig. Some wigs are made using only 1 type of material as the base. Others have several sections to their pattern and use a different piece of material for each section. Regardless, the same principle applies throughout.

Re: #2 and #3 - When you make a dart, you literally pull a section of fabric up in your hand and then fold it over, as it is essentially 'excess' material. You would then pin it, to hold the excess fabric in place while you pin the rest of the wig material onto the block. There are different types of darts used in dress making and other types of sewing, but usually in wig making, darts are triangular in shape because of the cap shape we are creating.

Here is an example of how a dart is created:

The blue arrow indicates the fabric being pulled over so that the two yellow lines meet (the yellow line edge of the fabric on the right side lays on top of the yellow line edge of the fabric on the left side). After pinning the whole wig, you would then sew along the pinned edge of each dart - along the yellow line, so that the fabric is joined together permanently and, most importantly, lies flat. I sew mine along both edges to make sure they are totally smooth and low-profile.

It is also imporant to follow a basic rule when marking darts on a wig:

Darts on the left - fold towards the right
Darts on the right - fold towards the left

Or... another way of looking at it = if you are making a dart on the side, you are folding towards the rear of the head/wig and if you are making a dart on the back, you are folding towards the opposite ear.

Re: #4 - As a general rule of thumb, it is less desireable to create darts on the vertex (the vertex being the top of the head from front harline to crown and from side to side before the head curves away). The reason for this is because you want the area everyone looks at (the top and front) to look seamless, and smooth... as if the person is not wearing a wig. Sometimes we have to make darts in this area due to the fabric being used and/or the shape of a person's head. In this case, it is very important to think about their placement. You want to think about the hairstyle that the wig will end up being styled in. E.g. if the wig is going to have a partline, don't make a dart that shows in this area. If the hair is going to be brushed back for some reason (ponytail or up-do or short hairdo) and/or you are creating a wig with a very fine, graduated hairline, putting a dart somewhere at the front will be more likely to show. Usually one would aim to have no darts on the front hairline, and if you need to put darts in the front section of the wig, then place them over the ears, or along a line around the crown (but avoiding any partline or open crown areas).

Example of a wig dart

Purple lines highlight the two darts -
one is deep over the ear, but misses the vertex and the other
is on the side pointing towards the crown, but again is hidden.

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