How to Make a Cats Wig

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Introduction: How to Make a Cats Wig

Have you ever wanted to dress up like a cat, but didn't just want to wear silly little ears? The musical Cats has created a whole new style of cat costumes, with wigs that give a very feline impression.

Cats costumes make fun and creative Halloween costumes. And children are always fascinated by a giant cat prowling around. There are many parts to a Cats styled costumes, but the unique wigs can be the most intimidating.

This Intructable contains step by step instructions to building and styling your own Cats style wig. It is a fairly simple process that can be completed by anyone with glue gun experience and a steady hand.

Caution! This project makes extensive use of a hot glue gun! Be careful, hot glue, as it's name implies, is hot!

Step 1: Materials & Tools

Materials Needed:
-Lions Brand Homespun Yarn, in various colors
-1 pair of Control Top Pantyhose
-Fabric for sideburns - cross stitch fabric is recomended
-Thick thread
-Extra hot glue sticks
-Clear glue
-Water
-Hairspray

Tools Needed:
-Wighead
-Scissors
-Fine toothed comb
-Book that is approximately 14" in diameter
-Hot Glue gun
-Sewing Machine or needle and thread
-Bowl
-Paintbrush

Step 2: Prepping the Yarn, Part 1

The first step in making a Cats wig is to prep all the yarn you will be using. The ideal length to cut is about 14". It is easiest to find a book that is approximately that length around, as many strands of yarn are needed. I have a piece of yarn of the correct length that I save between projects.

Wrap the yarn around the book as many times as needed. The amount of yarn depends on how many colors you plan on using. For this project, I cut 360 strands of yarn, and I had quite a few left over. It is always better to cut more than you need, as nothing is worse than to halt wigmaking to cut more yarn.

After wrapping the yarn around the book, I made one long cut to separate all the strands of yarn. For this particular wig, I cut 100 strands of yellow, 80 strands of white, 80 strands of black, 60 strands of red, and 40 strands of gray.

Step 3: Prepping the Yarn, Part 2

In Homespun yarn, there are several threads that must be removed in order for the yarn to fray properly. One thread is wrapped around the outside of the yarn. Separate it from the yarn and gently pull it out.

Two of the threads are located inside the bundle of fibers, so you will have to separate the fibers to locate them. One is thin, like the one around the outside of the yarn, and the other is thicker and easier to see.

Remove the threads from two pieces of yarn before continuing.

Step 4: Prepping the Yarn, Part 3

Take the two de-threaded strands of yarn and lay them out so they lie parallel to each other. Pick them up together and tie a knot so the knot is centered in the strands, still holding the two strands as one. If you are a little off, it is not that big a deal, since you will be trimming them anyway.

After knotting the strands, grab one end of the strands with one hand while holding on to the knot with your other hand. Firmly pull the end away from the knot.

A small section of yarn will pull away from the main strands. Tie that small section in a knot, then repeat for the other side of the main strand.

Now, repeat that process for the rest of your yarn. This process gets extremely tedious, so I usually pull all the threads out for one color, then knot and pull every strand before moving onto the next color.

Step 5: Making the Wig Base, Part 1

Take your control top pantyhose and cut the legs off right above the crotch. You can save the legs, since the toes make good wig caps for when you want to wear the wig. It is helpful to slip the pantyhose on your head where you want the wig to sit, and tie a knot above the crown of your head so you know where to cut.

After determining the size you need and cutting to that size, it is helpful to round the corners of the wig base. This ensures a closer fit.

Take your wig base to your sewing machine or grab your needle and thread. Sew along the opening you just cut, as close to the edge as you can. This will make a good, secure, and well-fitting wig base.

Step 6: Making the Wig Base, Part 2

Next we need to add sideburns to our wig base. These are made out of the sturdy fabric, such as cross stitch fabric. I cut mine at about one inch wide. My sideburns are usually five inches long, but it depends on your head size. Sideburns usually extend to where your jaw meets the bottom of your ear.

Put your wig cap on your wig head. Start warming up your hot glue gun. I prefer to set mine on 'high' (380 degrees Fahrenheit/193 degrees Celsius on my glue gun), as it bonds the plugs of yarn better to the wig cap, and is just generally more secure. But if you're afraid of burning yourself, then 'low' (248 degrees Fahrenheit/120 degrees Celsius on my glue gun) will work as well, but you will have to be very careful when combing out your wig.

Once the glue gun is heated up, place a line of glue across one narrow edge of the sideburn. Carefully press the end onto the wig cap, about where your temple would be. Angle it toward the back of the head. After that is mostly cooled down, lift the sideburn up to place a vertical line of glue on the wig cap, along the edge of the sideburn. Press the sideburn carefully into place.

Step 7: Building the Ears, Part 1

I like to build the ears on my wigs first, then build around the finished ears. Ears are one of the trickiest parts, so it's best to get them done completely before you move on.

Ears are usually placed about two finger widths back from the front edge of the wig cap. I mark out the basic positions of the ears, but I don't always stay perfectly within the lines. The picture shows quite clearly where I mark out the basic position of the wig parts.

Take one of the longer plugs, and place a dot of hot glue on the knot. Hold the stray ends far from glue and carefully place the plug on the approximate outline of your ear.

Repeat to form the outline of the ear. Place the knots right next to each other, to form a tight and secure ear.

Step 8: Building the Ear, Part 2

Once the glue has set up, take your fine tooth comb and comb out the plugs forming the ears. You will loose a lot of fluff, but there will be plenty left to make a nice ear.

After combing out the ears, there will be a lot of fluff like cotton balls. Take about 3/4 of the fluff and roll it into as tight balls as you can. This will become the stuffing for the ear. Put a small layer of glue on the wig cap, inside the little ring made by the wig hair. Stick the ball of fluff on the glue and hold it in place until it stays put.

Brush through the ear yarn to smooth it out, and ensure it is standing straight up. Take a sturdy piece of thread, and knot it around the ear hair at least five times. It needs to be secure. I tie once in the back, loop the tails around and tie in the front, and then repeat several times. It's a lot of knots, but it's very secure. You can trim the thread and hair above the knots now, or wait until after the glue.

Take the clear glue, and pour it into a bowl. Add a bit of water until the glue has a watery consistency. Take the paintbrush and gently paint the tied ears to make a hard coating on the ears. You could paint one or two coats, depending on how much time you want to devote to this step. If you haven't yet, trim the threads and the extra hair above the knots.

After gluing the ears, I usually blast the ears with a coat of hairspray, just for extra security.

Step 9: The Sideburns, Part 1

Next comes the sideburns, or the hair that comes off the sides of the wig and contributes to the feline appearance of the wig. For the sideburns we will be using long plugs.

Take a long plug and apply a dot of hot glue as you did for the ears. Place the plug at the bottom of the sideburn, right on the edge closest to the face. Work your way up the sideburn, all the way up to the ear. Make sure to place a plug right up next to the ear. Gaps make a wig look bad.

Repeat for the other side.

Take your fine toothed comb and comb out the sideburns after the glue has set. You will loose a lot of fluff, as you did for the ears. You could reuse this as stuffing for another project.

Step 10: The Sideburns, Part 2

At this point, I like to cut the sideburns into a choppy version of the final shape. Cut longer than you want the final length of the sideburns to be, as we will be trimming them later.

Step 11: The Back

Pull your wig forward so it is tight against the wig head. We will now being working on the back.

Take one of the short plugs, and place a dot of hot glue on one of the sides of the knot. We don't want the hair on the back to stick straight out, we want it to lie flat. Place the plug close to the bottom edge of the wig base with the fibers pointing down.

Continue applying the plugs in rows, and then leave a small gap of about one finger length before the next row. If you place the rows too close together, you will end up with a helmet instead of a wig.

Make sure you place plugs on the sideburns and continue the design to cover the sideburn fabric.

Every few rows, it might be useful to trim the hair that is too long, and trim the hair that will be close to the neck. A design can work, with colors bleeding into each other, but neat little patches can work as well. Solid color wigs usually do not need trimming anywhere but the bottoms.

Most wigs have random patches of color on their backs.

As you get close to the ears, you need to make sure the hair is flush with the ears. Remember, gaps make ugly wigs. Continue with the back until you reach the back of the ears.

I included some pictures of my other wigs so you can see some back styles.  If you need more, try Google or the search engine of your choice.

Step 12: Styling the Sideburns

I prefer to style the sideburns without the bangs getting in the way. Take your scissors and cut directly into your fibers. It may not seem like it will do anything, but cutting this way feathers the hair very naturally. 

Once the sideburns are trimmed and styled to your satisfaction, blast them with the hairspray. For Cats wigs, hairspray is your best friend. You want to load as much hairspray into the sideburns as possible. Sure, the wig will probably explode if you get too close to an open flame, but you know for sure the hair isn't going anywhere.

Step 13: The Bangs

The plugs for the bangs and glued much like the plugs for the sideburns. Take a longer plug and place a dot of glue on the knot as you did for the ears and sideburns. Set the plug onto the wig base, fairly close to the edge, sticking straight out. Work across the remaining blank area in rows, leaving a bit of space between the rows, but not as much as for the back.

Work your way up to the crown. When you get to the space between the ears, check what type of plugs you have left. If you want a certain color on the crown and you've run out of longer plugs, the shorter plugs will work on the crown.

Step 14: The Crown

When you get to the crown, you will have to fill in the circle. Place the plugs very close together, in a circular pattern that eventually narrows down to space for a single plug. Take two plugs and apply glue before sticking them in the space, to fill it with hair. You will probably slightly burn your hands on this step, but move your hands quickly and it shouldn't leave any marks.

This step is to ensure there are no gaps, as the hair is fairly straight up at this part. We don't want to see the wig base.

Step 15: Styling the Bangs

After you get the bangs all styled, the wig should look like a mass of hair. Don't worry, a little styling will fix it right up. Take your fine tooth comb and comb through the bangs. You will probably have to part the bangs strangely, as there is a lot of hair there, and you need to get it all.

Now, bangs are usually cut in layers, with the longest layers on the bottom and the shortest on the top. After a straight cut to get the approximate length you want, take your scissors and make the cuts directly into your fibers to feather the bangs and make them softer.

After trimming, play with the bangs a little before spraying. You don't want them all sticking straight out, because it looks like the wig got electrocuted. Cats wigs should look soft and natural.

Finally, when the wig is looking like you want, blast it with the hairspray.

Step 16: Conclusion

Now that you've made your wig, apply some Cats makeup and have fun!  If I get the time I will try to add instructions on the rest of the Cats costume. If you make your own wig be sure to post pictures.

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Does anyone know of anybody who sells these?

62 Comments

so when I started making this wig I had a spin I wanted to do on it, I wanted it to be long and very ferrel like, but I underestimated the yarns ability to hold together. When you pull the plugs and fluff the ends it measures about two inches in length. I got a method going to hold a little bit more in by tying a long strand at the top and bottom then pulling the bottom plug appart. I'm attempting to keep longer pieces by keeping a knot at the top and bottom and then hiding the bottom knot with other strands on top. Here's my progress so far. Also copied a different tutorial for the ears.

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2 replies

Do you sale wigs

No i don't I'm sorry :( it's quite easy to make though

Do someone knows where I can buy one from

I just made one for my Munkustrap Holloween Costume using your guide. It helped a bunch. I didn't use Lions brand or whatever you used however. It still turned out pretty good if I do say so myself.

I just made one for my Munkustrap Holloween Costume using your guide. It helped a bunch. I didn't use Lions brand or whatever you used however. It still turned out pretty good if I do say so myself.

Do you think Lion Brand® Vanna's Choice® Could work?????

Do you have a video on how to make this wig

Is this wig designed to be worn so the pantyhose cap is covering your ears or is it worn just above the ears?

Does the sideburn area need to be glued to your face or does it just hang freely?

2 replies

It hangs freely and hides your ears underneath. If you want stability, hair grips are the answer.

Thank you. In the photos it appears as if the wig base covers your ears and the sideburns are in front of the ears. Is that right or should the cap fit just above the ears rather than covering them over?

Thank you so much for posting this - I have recently finished making 30 wigs for a youth production of CATS the musical at our local theatre. I have made them all true to the West End/Tour with a few alterations like 6 x kittens and a Rasterfarian Old Deuteronomy and they all look FABULOUS. I will post a picture once the production has closed at the end of April. The youngsters are so excited (as am I) and I am sure that the end result will have the polished effect because of these wigs (and makeup). THANK YOU.

Is there anything else that would work in place of panty hose? I bought some and it is very uncomfortable. I am a man with a large head and I feel like I would not be able to keep pantyhose on my head for very long.

1 reply

I used a pre-made spandex skull cap once and I bought some spandex but haven't used it yet. Good luck on your project!

I think any roving wool would work. As long as it pulls apart to make the fluffy ends. I used Homespun and did like the feel of it. The thread is a pain but not too much.