Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tuesday's Tute: DIY Hair Extensions

Disclaimer: I did ask my daughter if I could share this story and thereby help someone else someday. The ordeal has been a bit sad and embarrassing to her. She was happy to share.
Sometimes we have the need to try a new "craft" and sometimes we simply want to learn something new and fun. This, as you might be able to tell in the picture, was one of those times of "need". The following tutorial came out of necessity when my daughter decided to be helpful and remove the knots from the back of her hair with scissors. Since she couldn't see the result of the "knot removal" as she worked, she had no idea she was also removing her long curls completely. I didn't find out she was cutting until all of the knots were removed and I found a small piece of her hair on the kitchen floor. It must have fallen as she put the scissors away. The rest of her hair was hidden (yes she knew not to cut her own hair) in her room. She took me to the hair pile and amidst the tears, from both of us, begged me to put the hair back. I almost finished her "haircut" but her dad requested that I wait until morning to give more time to cool off and find the best solution. I'm so glad he had that request, and that I waited.
By morning I had a clearer mind and some ideas. Also, the remaining hair looked a little more useable with some time to think. I did some research on extensions and thought they might be an option although, not a good one. All I knew about were the permanent/professional ones. I didn't like the idea of putting them in a little girl's hair or the expense. After calling a few stylists, one told me about clip in extensions and where to get them. She even offered to help teach me to put them in.
These would give us the hair when we needed it, not cause any "permanent" discomfort, and be much less expensive. They were still going to cost about $85 for real hair ones. We found wefted hair (not on clips) for $45. Finding a match, since we are filling a hole and not simply blending, might be a problem. That's where a friend and stylist chimed in....make our own.  Our version cost less than $10. Since I'd carefully saved her locks, I had the hair I needed. With the help of google, youtube, and some on the phone advice, I thought I could use my crafting skills and actually do this.

After this long story....a tutorial is born. Making hair extensions isn't only for use on people. This tutorial may also be used to weft hair for doll making.

Hair your own or purchased
our hair

OCH Silky Straight 14" by Wig Pro Wefted Hair Extensions
wefted hair (If using this start at Step 8.)

bulk hair (to weft like)

Ribbon We used 1/8" grosgrain to match her hair color.  1/4" would work also.
Stabilizer or tissue paper
Extension clips: purchased at the beauty supply store

Large Eye Needle and Thread
Super Glue

Step 1: Tape the ribbon to the center of a piece of stabilizer or tissue paper.

Step 2: Lay stabilizer on top. We used a clear stabilizer for embroidery.  You can use tissue paper. Stitch/back stitch.  Put needle in down position.  Lift presser foot. Lift top stabilizer.  Slide a lock of hair under the stabilizer and presser foot. You want the lock to be about the length/width of the clips you are using, not longer/wider. Lower stablizer and presser foot onto hair lock.

Step 3: Stitch over hair lock.  Back stitch.

Step 4: Sew about 1/2" to leave space between locks.

Step 5: Put needle in down position, lift presser foot and stabilizer, place another lock under and sew again.  Always back stitch before and after each lock.
Repeat until all of the locks are done.

Step 6: Sew a zigzag stitch over your ribbon/lock line.  Do this again to help secure the strands of hair.

 Step 7: Cut along the top edge of the ribbon.  And remove stabilizers. Now you have a weft.  You can buy the hair already wefted and simply begin at this point with the tutorial.

Step 8: Lay your hair weft on a piece of paper.  Lean the paper/weft on something to give it a nice tilt. I used a sandwich bag box. The weft (ribbon edge) is facing down.  Also, be certain to protect the table you are working on.  You cannot do the next step without the tilt.  It could ruin your hair locks.

Step 9: Run a good amount of super glue along the ribbon to further secure the hair strands.  Loose strands are not good.  I did this 3 times. Let it dry completely in the tilted position.  Tug hair slightly to check for loose strands.  Add more glue if necessary.

Step 10: Cut and seperate extension locks.

Step 11: Thread needle.  Take a very long piece of thead.  Double it.  Double it again.  Thread one doubled (two loops) end through the eye of the needle.  Tie the ends together. This gives you an 8 strand threaded needle.

Step 12: Stitch the weft on the top (as shown...the snap bar is on top) of the clip.  Stitch the ribbon to the edge with the holes.  One time through all of the holes should secure it well.

Finished Extensions!  And a happy mama and daughter!  In about 3 years, when her curls are beyond her shoulder blades, we'll even it all out and retire the extensions...
Now maybe I'll make myself some.  I have fine thin hair and have always wanted to thicken it up a bit. (wink, wink)

Happy Sewing!


  1. Wow! It looks great. That's a fantastic idea...if only when my kids cut their hair it was in the back and not right in the front of their faces or all the way to the scalp. When my 2 oldest were younger, we had a ban on scissors after several hair cutting incidents. One of which was my oldest clipping all the hair along the hairline of her forehead almost to the scalp, hours before her ballet recital photo session. AFter that, I put them away where only I knew and the kids had to ask permission if they needed scissors and had to use them under supervision. We've had a few incidents with the 2 younger ones but none as bad as what their older siblings did. I guess it's kind of a rite of passage...

  2. Wow! I had no idea! Thanks for posting. I'm glad you got to salvage your daughter's lovely curls.

  3. Awesome! I'm so happy it worked for your darling little girl and I'm excited for how this tut can help so many of us with thin hair. BIG HUGS to you and thanks!

  4. I want to thank you for this tutorial from the bottom of my heart. I am 59 years old and my hair has become so thin from health problems. I started saving my hair three yrs ago and have almost two gallon sized baggies full. I thought someday I would be bald and need a wig. My hair used to look like your daughter's. So full and beautiful and down to my butt. Now I will run that saved hair through a drum carder that I use for straightening fiber for spinning. Seperate it into locks, and then give it a perm. Then following your directions, I am going to make some extentions. I still have long hair to my shoulders and usually pin it up. Now when I go out the door it will look like I have more hair. Maybe I can put all the hats and scarfs away. I had thought of extentions but one they are expensive and two they break the hair which happened to my daughter in law. Thank you again.I sent her a link to your blog. She is only 35 and her hair is thinner than mine.

  5. Well done! I just did a google search for DIY hair extensions and your blog came up. This is exactly what I was looking for. I was going to go look at extensions today to see how they're made to see if I could make some out of an old wig I have. The thought occurred to to me that surely someone has already done this! And sure enough you have! Thanks for the tutorial! I'm going to skip the shopping trip and start cutting up the wig!

    Thank you!
    Jamie in Kansas City

    1. I'm glad our extensions experience can help you.


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