Saturday, 25 June 2016

Heat-forming lace



Although I'm still constantly learning new wig making techniques, it isn't very often these days that I have what I would consider a major breakthrough.  However, today was definitely a breakthrough kinda day!

I have known about this technique for a while, and have monkeyed around with it in the past without much success.  But today I got serious about heat-forming lace, and I'm happy to say that it went WAY better than I thought it would!

I hate knotting through darts in a wig base, and I have noticed that many of the commercial wigs are made without using any darts at all.  This is achieved by stretching nylon lace over a form, and heating it with a heat gun to permanently form it to the correct shape.

I had bought a wooden toupee block a while back on Aliexpress, and I decided that it was time to put it to use.  I stretched some inexpensive Asian 'swiss' lace over it (also from Aliexpress) and secured it with a staple gun.  I took my time and made sure that the lace was taut but not too tight, and that it was as smooth as possible in the area that I would use to create the hairpiece.

I then heated it gently with a heat gun - the kind you would buy at a hardware store to strip paint.  I was hesitant at first, and didn't want to get too close to the lace.  However I found that on the lower setting, the gun would heat the lace without burning it.  I tried it at the edge on the higher setting, and the lace just shrivelled and became crispy.

I continued on the low setting, making sure that I covered all of the lace, especially the perimeter of the base shape.  I went over it several times just to be sure, and once I was happy that I had heated the entire base, I set it aside and let it cool completely.

Below are the results.  I'm amazed at how well the lace holds its shape!  In the photos it looks stiff, but it is actually still very soft and malleable, it just has the perfect shape of the head block that I used to form it.

This will be fantastic, not only for making toupees, but also for forming lace for the front of wigs.  No need for darts at all any more!  I really feel that this could completely change the way I make my bases from now on!

Now that I'm comfortable with the technique I will try a few different types of lace to see which ones work with heat.  I'm really excited to see what the results will be!

Lace stretched over the wooden block.

Removed and trimmed.

I'm amazed at how well it holds its shape!

6 comments:

  1. OMG this looks exciting. I hate darts too. I wonder though how attaching the piece would be having it stiff. Do the holes become smaller as well, how will this effect the density?

    I've been back to work on my 3rd piece this week, still recovering from shingles but do much better. It's been a horrible 2 weeks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to hear you're getting better! It's odd, the lace does look stiff, but it's actually not any stiffer than when it's flat. I was worried about the holes shrinking too, but that wasn't a problem. The only place I did notice some distortion was at the bottom edge, below the staples, but as long as you leave an inch or so beyond the template edge that won't matter. It seems that all of the commercial pieces are made like this now. Some still have a couple of small darts in the back, but never in front. However, they all seem to have contour lines stitched using invisible thread, so I'm wondering if there will be a tendency for the shape to slacken after wearing/washing for a while...

      Delete
  2. I second that, I hate ventilating on darts; it's cumbersome and I think it also interferes with the way the hair moves. It stunts movement when you ventilate through those layers. I notice the wig bases that you can buy on sites from the german based vendors have no darts. Thermo tulle wig bases. You must be thrilled at your discovery.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, darts (and double knots) restrict the movement of the hair. I can't wait to try using a heat-formed base! I have seen those thermo tulle foundations on Atelier Bassi and Blond&Braun - they seem quite expensive! I'm very happy that this inexpensive Asian lace seems to respond well to the heat gun. I will try some finer laces too when I have time...

      Delete
  3. Dave, I can see why you're so excited about this process... great work my friend. Thank you so much for all the information you share on Northwest Lace's forum.
    My best, Brad

    ReplyDelete