Saturday, February 23, 2013

Making a Hair Switch

I have become a little obsessed with recreating Victorian hair styles. There is a terrific tutorial over at that relied on hair switches, a ponytail extension that you must pin into your hairstyle. 

I purchased switches from Wilshire Wigs, but I was disappointed by the color match. I realized that I was fighting an uphill battle trying to guess at the right color, so I decided to make my own. I was able to use the switches I bought as a guideline. I went to my local wig and braiding store to find weaving hair that would be a better blend. 

Update 2/25/13: Lynn McMasters has an alternate version of how to do this that involves using a sewing machine. The article, "The Makings of a Natural Form Era Hairstyle" can be found under the "Articles" section of her website:

Here is my attempt at step-by-step documentation of my process. Enjoy!

Start with a sturdy, non-stretch cord. I used boot laces. I used a piece about 10 - 11" long.  Create a loop about 1" long, then sew the loop closed by running the thread through both laces. 
Wrap the thread around the laces 5 or 6 times. Then, tie it off securely. 
I wanted to make a long switch, so I bought the longest hair I could find in my color (30"). 

Get ready to start attaching the hair to the cord.

You are going to roll the hair around the cord and sew through the cord to attach the hair. 

The sew at regular intervals. 

Keep the spirals close together, overlapping a little. 

I used the back of the chair to keep the developing switch from getting tangled with the loose hair. 

I moved 2" sections of hair over the back of the chair at a time. This seemed to be a good amount to keep things somewhat tidy. 
As you get about 2" from the loop closure, start spreading the spiral out so that the  end of the switch won't be too bulky. 
One half done! Brush this out before doing the same thing to the second cord. 

2nd cord done! Brush these halves out separately. 

At this point, I think you could probably sew in a third cord, if you want a thicker switch. 
In fact, you could probably loop another piece of cord through the first loop and secure it like the original loop.  
Once all the pieces are done,  brush all the cords together. 

Start sewing hair around both cords just above the existing hair. 

Occasionally, sew through both cords. 

Sew the hair up to the beginning of the loop. 

If you have extra hair, start wrapping hair again around both cords. 
Make sure everything is secure. Then wrap the thread around the hair about 1/4" below the top level of the hair. (I forgot to take a picture of this last step.)
You can kind of see the thread wrapping around the outside of the switch in this shot. I created a second switch, then twisted both of them into rope braids. 

Then, with a little help from my talented friends, BOOM! instant hair!


ZipZip said...

Brilliant! I'd just read the Your Wardrobe Unlock'd article, too, and wondered how to make a switch, and lo, you'd done!

Fabulous. I have the hair, thread and needle, now just need boot laces.

Thanks so much,


Kathryn said...

Incredibly helpful - many thanks for this tutorial! :)

Carol said...

I just found this tutorial. Awesome. Do you have any advice if I was starting with hair that is not sewn together?

ajpiffle said...


You might have to look up wig weaving or punching to work with hair that in not sewn. However, It might just be easier to visit your local wig shop and see what you can get "off the shelf". You might also visit a hairdresser that specializes in weaves to ask about making your own piece.

Good luck!