Quick Tutorial: making dreadlocks for dolls

How to make dreadlocks for your dolls & action figures:

You want a head of hair that looks like this, huh?


This isn’t the most intensive of tutorials but it’s mostly to illustrate certain points.  Sorry about the poor photos but hopefully you’ll get the idea of what to do.

What you need:


  • Wool roving (also called tops) You can get it in a variety of colors and weights. I get mine off ebay but you can find it on etsy & some local craft fairs. You want to get Merino Wool preferably 18 micron. This is the stuff I buy: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/200579047909 the seller has always been prompt in shipping (although YMMV!!!)
  •   Make certain you are buying wool (not nylon). You don’t need much to do a cg or barbie sized head.
  • Soap (whatever you have in the bathroom will do).
  • Water
  • 2 hands
  • time…and patience!

I find it easiest to stick some music on so you have some kind of entertainment while you’re doing this. It’ll take a bit of time depending on how many you want to get done in a sitting.

What to do:

Step 1: Pick the roving color(s) you want to use and carefully separate some from the main piece of roving.

Step 2: From there separate the roving into smaller pieces.

Step 2A: The size of these will impact the final size (diameter/thickness of the dreadlock) so I’d say the thinner the better.  (the examples I have shown are actually much too large, but it’s just a quick tutorial!!) But it’s also a case of trial and error so see what you do and what works best for your needs in that regard).

Step 3: Wet your palm with a couple drops of water(maybe 1/2 a teaspoon) and rub with a bit of soap (don’t need much soap). Then pick up your piece of roving and pull it gently through your palm to wet it (with the water & soap).

Step 4: Once the piece is wet begin rolling it back and forth along the length of your palms (like when you’d make clay snakes).  It is important at this point that you do this quickly while applying pressure. The heat generated by the friction of your palms will help the wool to felt. Just remember: Wool + Wet + Heat = Felt (and dreadlocks).

Step 5: Repeat step 4 over-and-over….and over! Stop when you have the dreadlock thin enough for your purpose. Be aware of the fact that when they begin drying out they will puff up a bit and so making them somewhat thinner than you want is probably a good plan.

Step 6: Look at the finished dreadlock! yay! You have one….now you only need lots more to go!

Step 7: Apply dreadlocks to doll/action figure head. You can do this in a few ways. I personally prefer to use the tension method with this (use your needle tool) I haven’t had any problems with them coming out. The other options are to find an upholstery needle (with a very large eye) and thread the dread through that and “sew” into the head, Or, you can glue them onto the head (but I’ve never done that and I don’t think it sounds like a particularly good idea).

As you can see from the photo below: I didn’t make the dreadlocks thin enough, nor roll them for quite long enough to make them a bit more solid/felted. (I’m not bothered though since this was just for a quick example & I’ll be de-dreading her later today).

(this is another example of a head re-root I did in this method)


Step 8: You’re pretty much done! 😀 Style the hair if you want to. You can use hair gel on it if you need to but try to find a type that does not flake.  (I use Small Talk (by Tigi) for all of my dolls with styled hair. It doesn’t flake/crack etc. and a little drop goes a long way (plus I can use it on my hair too!)

Ok, there you have it, how to give your dolls/action figures dreadlocks! Dani, I hope you find this of some use! 😉

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9 thoughts on “Quick Tutorial: making dreadlocks for dolls

  1. Wow, thanks! This looks so easy! I was loitering over your past blog entries and I saw that old Monsieur Z and her locks look amazing, so I’ve been anxious to see how it’s done.

    I can’t wait to do this! Thanks again!

    1. Dani it IS easy! It just takes some time & a bit of effort. One other thing I forgot to mention is that some of the hair can be a bit whiffy (because it’s wool) so try to make sure that you use soap you like the smell of, and hair styling stuff you like the smell of (it’ll help mask the natural “sheepy” smell.

  2. You are a godsend. I have been trying to figure this out for months.I just used two of your pics in a post talking about this article and several links back to your blog. Let me know what you think and let me know if there is some other way you’d prefer I handle the use of your pics.

    1. Hi Kristl, thanks for the warm feedback! 😀 I’m glad I could help out. I’d figured it out a while ago, did it maybe 2 or 3 times and didn’t give it much thought until Dani had asked if I could do the tutorial. I don’t mind your use of the photos because 1)you hosted them yourself (not hotlinked) and 2) you gave me credit for them. As far as I’m concerned that’s about all I ask!

      I had a look over at your website and I wanted to say that I really like what you’ve done and the point of view and the ethos behind it. I think that’s fantastic.

  3. Thanks for the tutorial! I have some wool and was trying to figure out how to make dolly dreads. I’ll have to try your method. I’ll post pics on my blog oncee I finish a head or two!

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