My kids, ages three and five, are at excellent dress-up ages. They own everything from swords made of cardboard to thrifted silk dresses with loads of ribbons and lace (each with a “handmade by Grandma” tag, egads!) to complete costumes bought at at 90% discount from Wal-mart the week after Halloween.
When Willow asked for a clown wig, however, I was stymied.
Post-Halloween, I can’t thing of a single brick-and-mortar store within driving distance that would stock clown wigs. And even pre-Halloween, I sincerely doubt that I would have paid full price for a brand-new acryclic/polyester clown wig, anyway.
It took me AGES to think up how to make a clown wig from materials I already own, some of it trash. However, since then I’ve been called upon to make several more, each with some further distinguishing feature (make this one all pink, Momma! Give this one girl hair!), so much so that I am now an expert at making yarn wigs from trash.
Feel free to piggyback on top of my expertise below:
You will need:
- a big ball of yarn. How much you will need depends on how much hair you’ll want on your wig, but you could always use extra yarn to make pom-poms or bows, etc.
- a small-ish mesh produce bag. I always try to re-use these plastic mesh bags before I throw them out, anyway (they make great dish scrubbers, btw), but this re-usage is extra-nice because your wig-wearer will keep this one for ages. I found that a mesh bag that once held about 1.5 kilograms of tangerines fit my head and the heads of both my pre-schoolers, so the open weave makes fit pretty forgiving here.
- a latch hook needle. I bought mine with a kit years ago, but latch hooking was huge in the early 1980s, so if you don’t have one of these things, a good beginning strategy is to ask older family members or friends, or check with freecycle.
- piece of cardboard at least as long as you want the yarn to be in your wig
- scissors for cutting cardboard and scissors for cutting yarn
1. Cut the labelling off the top of your plastic mesh produce bag, but preserve the stitching that held the label to the bag. If you nick or cut away that stitching, you’ll have the stitch the bag shut at the top yourself–otherwise, you’re left with a plastic mesh tube, which I suppose might also have some good crafty uses.
2. Fold up the bottom of the mesh bag in cuffs, the way you do a ski cap made of knit fabric, until you’ve got it the right size for your head. Be generous in fit here, because the worst thing is a wig that’s too small for your head. If you’re trying it on for fit, it really should look about like a ski cap, covering most of the ear on each side and reaching down to the nape of the neck in back.
3. To cut yarn pieces that are the correct length for your wig, first cut a piece of cardboard that is as long as you want each yarn piece to be. Wrap your yarn around it as many times as you can, then cut the yarn off straight across the top of your cardboard. You will be left with yarn pieces that are twice as long as you want their final length to be–this is exactly what you want.
4. Following the directions for latch hooking, tie your first knots to tack down your cuff in several places around the perimeter of your wig.
5. Now, treat the plastic mesh exactly as if it was an open-weave mat for latch hooking, and use your needle to tie your yarn, piece by piece, to the mesh.
If you plan to give your wig to an active child, or want it to serve as a costume for a play or parade, you can tie a length of narrow elastic to the bottom cuff of the wig on each side. The elastic will go under the wearer’s chin to hold the wig in place during various antics.
These yarn wigs don’t have to be clown wigs, of course. You can make the yarn in this wig as long as you want, and braid it or style it. We’re thinking Rapunzel, and Pippi Longstocking, and Laura Ingalls, and I’m personally not going to give up until I’ve figured out Annie.