Felting Needles
Rooting or Re-rooting Synthetic Fibers
On dolls that have missing hair plugs.

 FOR RE-ROOTING DOLL HAIR. Felting needles are useful for rerooting hair on vinyl dolls which have lost their hair for some reason. Push the replacement hair into the empty hair plugs, poking the felting needle up and down so the strands of replacement hair will "knot" inside the doll's head. Sometimes I push the hair into the head using the blunt end of a broken felting needle, then I push a good needle into the hole and plunge up and down for a bit to knot the threads, then push some more hair into the hole with the blunt needle, and repeat the process until each hole in the doll's head is filled.

GET A GRIP. Rooting hair is a tedious process but the felting needles are the best solution I have ever heard of. If your fingers get a little sore, I have found it is easier to grip the felting needle if I wrap a small rubber band around the end of it and this helps me get a better hold on the needle too. Recently my Dad invented a wood handle for the felting needles and this little handle is terrific. I don't know what to do without it now that I have one. (They are for sale in the doll shop.)

IF YOU NEED HOLES IN THE HEAD... I have poked holes in vinyl using a big sewing needle heated over a candle flame. The needle goes through the vinyl fast and easy this way and melts a very small hole. The needle does need to be cleaned often or it will leave black carbon marks in the holes. I like this method because the holes are very small. (The needle isn't good for sewing anymore after it's been heated like this.) Vintage dolls already have holes for hair plugs so usually this is not a problem. The problem is getting the hair INTO the holes, so let's move on.....

POKE THE HAIR IN THE HOLES... using the felting needles. The barbs on the end will cause the hairs to tangle inside the doll's head so the hair is knotted and will not pull out very easily.

When I root with synthetic hair fibers, I cut a length that is at least double what I want on the doll, and fold it in half. Then I push the needle through
the folded fibers into the plug hole in the doll's head. I pull on the fibers while I'm plunging the needle in the hole and then I can feel the fibers as
they "catch" on the barbs of the needle. I can feel the needle grabbing the hairs when I do this. I continue plunging up and down in the hole until I think there is the right amount. Use a comb to help pull away the extra fibers.

If I just push the needle through synthetic fibers, then nothing much happens. It can be frustrating. When I finally figured out how to fold a length in half and use TENSION against the needle itself, then I was much happier with the results. Rooting synthetic hair goes much more quickly and easily then. I re-rooted the bangs on a big baby Crissy in a couple of hours.

It is a tedious process to root or re-root hair in this fashion, but it's the best method I've heard of so far and others in the doll industry tell me that this method is easier than threading needles with hairs, knotting them, pulling needles through the doll's head, etc. I have re-rooted several vintage dolls now and I have been thrilled with the results on every one of them.

Don't throw away your broken needles! Sometimes I use the broken ones to push the hair in the holes, and then I use a good felting needle to plunge up and down in the hole to knot the hairs inside.

MATCHING DOLL HAIR... On two of the dolls, I only needed to re-root the bangs. I was able to find a good hair match from a boring modern doll, and when I was done you could not tell the doll ever had a haircut. When I rooted Baby Crissy, I mixed two different auburn hair fibers in order to get a better match for the existing hair. This worked very well. So it is possible to custom blend hair strands in order to match the haircolor of the doll you are rooting.

I use wigs a lot too. There is a time and place for everything. Sometimes rooting the doll's hair gives the best results, and this seems to be especially true with the reborn dolls. It seems to be preferred over wigs.

STYLE HAIR WHEN FINISHED. After the head is rooted, then I use very warm water to wet the hair down flat. Keep it flat using a knee-high nylon stocking on the head. Leave the nylon on the head for several days until the hair is completely totally dry and this will tame the fibers. Heat and pressure are both needed.

STYLING TIP: To tame the hair when you are finished doing the re-rooting, you can place a wet towel or washcloth over the doll's head and iron the wet towel with a steam iron. The steam will flatten the hair so it will lay flat on the doll's head. Style the hair as much as possible before steaming it, so the hair will end up laying flat where you want it to be.

This suggestion has been going around the 'net, we're not sure who suggested it first. We thank one of our customers for passing the info on to us. :)

Then you will probably need to trim the new hair a little bit and... you're finished!

CAUTION... If you are using vintage hair fibers then do not use hot water on old doll hair. I do use warm water, but hot water or even hot steam can ruin the hair.


Copyright (c) 2002, 2012 Cynthia Stevens All Rights Reserved