Have you ever wondered if you can curl your dolls hair? Well, we've wondered that very thing and are super excited to bring you this tutorial created by @forofsuch. She's recently joined the Pixie Faire team as a contributing content creater, and she has so many great ideas for crafts and tutorials, so be sure to stay tuned for more amazing posts! Read on to learn the process and then decide if you want to try this out on your own!
With Courtney Moore™, American Girl’s® new historical character coming from 1986, about to be released, I’ve had super curly hair on my mind! I couldn't wait for the new doll to be released so I used my Maryellen doll and transformed her into my own custom 1980s girl, and these are the steps I took to curl her hair in fantastic 80’s fashion! (Update 9/15: the doll is now available online!)
Bonus! Be sure to scroll to the end of this post to enter the Giveaway for the American Girl Hairstyle Essentials Set!
Hair Curling Supplies:
Step 1: Remove your doll’s head from her body, if you can. If your doll has neck strings, just untie the knot. If she has a zip tie, you can carefully snip the stitches keeping the fabric together at the back of the neck, then push the fabric aside to expose the zip tie. I then use scissors to cut through the zip tie. It is important that you protect the doll’s neck from the point of your scissors while doing this. When you finally cut through the zip tie the scissors may jerk forward, scratching your doll. I usually use a piece of paper folded several times to make a thick pad and hold this over her neck where I am working with the scissors.
Step 2: Let’s start curling! First, section off all of her hair except for the bottom two wefts of hair. I tied up all the rest of her hair with a ponytail holder, but you could use clips are whatever you have! We are going to just curl this bottom section first.
Step 3: Curling! Take a small section of hair, or a bigger section if you want looser curls, and comb it out, then dampen it along the whole length with water from your room temperature bowl. Starting at the top, close to the head, wrap this section of hair around the curling rod, in a spiral shape, without twisting the hair into a rope first. Keep the hair wrapped flat against the curling rod. When you get to the last 1-2 inches, get a curling paper and wrap it around the end of the hair, then wrap this final bit around the rod and secure with the band that comes on the rod. (If ANY hair is left sticking out, it will be set that way when you heat and cool the hair, so it is very important that all the hair gets in the curling paper.) Continue to wrap small sections of hair until you have all the hair that is out now set in rods.
Step 4: Time to hot water dunk! (If your wig is not on the doll, you can continue to curl all the hair in this manner, sectioning off 2-3 wefts at a time and putting small sections on the rods, and then dunk the whole wig in a larger bowl all at once. I would put the wig on the doll to do the curling so the curls lay nicely against the scalp, then take it off for the dunking. If you are curling the wig while still attached to the doll, you can also continue to curl all the hair if you have enough curlers. I used an American Girl brand set that only came with 12 curlers, so I did mine in steps, not all at once.)
When you are ready to dunk your curlers in the hot water, it is time to heat the water. Wait until this point so that you can be assured the water is the right temperature. I have found that the exact temperature is very important. I’ve read and watched tutorials that recommend boiling the water, then letting sit from 1-5 minutes, then dunking. This cools the water down some, but you never know how much. In my first curling attempts I used a curling iron set on low and used it on damp hair. This worked, the curls were beautiful, but the texture of the hair was ruined. I would say I fried it!
The exact temp I use is 165°F. This temp gives you wonderful curl setting, but leaves the hair soft and nice to play with. I would either boil or microwave your water, then let it cool some, but definitely use a thermometer to know when it reaches this ideal temperature.
Once you have that perfect temp, it’s time to dunk! I did one curl at a time in my measuring cup, but again, if you have the whole wig ready, you may need a larger bowl or dish. Dunk each curl in, up to the scalp, and hold it there for a count of 10-15 seconds. This is also important! Don’t just dunk and pull out quickly. Make sure each curl gets the whole time. After the 10-15 seconds, take the curl out of the hot water and dunk it in the ice cold water for a moment or two, until you feel like it is cooled throughout.
Step 5: Finish the whole head! Once your curls are out of the water, I like to use a washcloth or towel to squeeze as much moisture as I can from the curl. At this point you can let them sit a bit in the curlers, or you can take out each curl. I find it easier to leave them in at least while I do the next row of curls so the rods keep the lower hair out of my way. Whatever you decide, you can now proceed to continue sectioning off the bottom 2-3 wefts of hair at a time and putting this hair in the curling rods and curling papers.
Step 6: Let the hair out! Once all the curls have been dunked in hot water and then cooled, it’s time to release the straps holding the curlers closed and unwrap the curls! Do this in the opposite motion of when you wound the hair around the curlers. Don’t yank or pull, be careful – you want to keep that wonderful shape intact! The curls should look like beautiful Shirley Temple-esque ringlets at this point.
Step 7: Separate the curls! Once the hair had dried a bit to the touch, but was still a little damp, I began to separate the curls. I took each individual ringlet (this takes a while) and separated it into 2-3 separate curls, depending on how thick it was to begin with. Doing this inevitably creates a little chaos, but I found the little “curlettes” very easy to finger curl back into their original shape. You can do this when the hair is perfectly dry, too, but I found the hair to be maybe a little extra frizzy when I did a few curls like that. Here is a picture of the curls on the left separated, while the curls on the right are still in ringlets.
Step 8: Enjoy your fun hair! Once you separate all the curls, your fabulous curly hair is done! I would let it dry completely before doing any playing or styling. Reattach your doll’s head either by retying the neck strings very tight, or by putting in another zip tie. Look for zip ties with very small ends on them, but still at least 8 inches long.
@forofsuch, for Pixie Faire
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Looking for sewing patterns for the new Courtney Moore™ doll? Be sure to check out our 1980's Fashions Collection!
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