Introduction: Ultimate Braid Crown
There are a dozen different ways to make a braid crown, all of which come down to, "Then wrap the braid around your head." This method, not for the faint of heart, takes a classic style from simple peasant to stunning princess with a little extra braiding and without a full head of knee-length hair.
Though it may seem unnecessarily complicated for this deceptively simple look, the end result is worth it. I wear this style with my Princess Leia* costume and get compliments at every turn.
*Yes, this style is approvable for Hoth Leia by Rebel Legion standards. I don't know about Endor Leia, as the reference style is slightly different, so I would suggest asking the judges before submitting.
Step 1: You Will Need...
- Medium to long hair or wig
- 1 Long ponytail clip OR 2 clip-in extensions in matching color
- Wig brush
- 4 hair ties (preferably matching, without metal)
- A metric fuckton of bobby pins
- Duckbill clips or other hair clips
- Four wig clips
Styrofoam wig head and straight pins, if using a wig
A few notes on materials:
I used Buttercup - Classic and Long Clip - Classic, both in Dark Brown, from Arda Wigs, and I highly recommend them as a source for cosplay hair styling.
Whatever kind of extension you get, make sure there's enough hair fiber for two long, thick braids. Cheap hair streak clip-ins won't cut it.
I've only done this using a wig, but the principle should apply just as well to actual hair. Though you may not want to try it on yourself, at least the first time. There's a lot of long hair involved, and things get tangled very easily.
Do NOT use a regular hair brush on a synthetic wig or extension. Doing so can only end in pain.
When I say "a metric fuckton of bobby pins", I mean a metric fuckton of bobby pins. If you think you have enough, get more. Various sizes will help.
I prefer metal duckbill clips for holding hair while styling. In my experience, the plastic ones do NOT work. These and most of the other styling supplies can be found at pretty much any store that sells hair products and accessories. The only item I've ever had to special order is the wig brush, and those you can find online easily.
Step 2: Make 2 Long Braids
If you're using one long ponytail clip, you will need to cut it in half. I separated mine into two (more or less) equal sections* and cut in between two lines of wefts.** Be careful in separating the two sections, since these long synthetic hairs will snag and tangle very easily.
Whether you're using one clip or two, you should now have two long chunks of hair, ready to be braided. I recommend either securing the base end to something steady or having someone hold it for you so that the hair hangs straight down. Brushing and braiding are a lot easier with gravity on your side.
Gently brush one section until it is free of tangles, then slowly braid down to the end. Be sure to keep the braid tight and watch out for fly-aways and tangles. Secure the end with a hair tie, preferably one without metal. Repeat this process with the other extension.
At this point, I sewed the wig clips onto the netting for the extensions in order to attach them to the wig. If you're using your own hair or if your extensions already have clips on them, you can skip the next step.
Step 3: Sew Wig Clips to Extensions
If your extensions already have clips built in, you can skip this step.
You need a way to attach your extensions to your wig (or head), and any kind of flat clip or tight bobby pin should work. I used wig clips because they are easy to hide, provide a secure hold, and are cheap. They're also designed to be sewn into hair pieces, and so already have holes in them.
Using dark brown quilting thread.* I sewed two clips to each extension, placing them on opposing sides with the teeth point toward each other. Having a clip on either side lets you attach the extension to the wig in a way that is a little more stable and keeps the base of the extension from sagging and creating lumps.
*Quilting thread is a little thicker and stiffer than all-purpose sewing thread. It doesn't actually matter what kind of thread you use, as long as the color matches your hair piece.
Step 4: Attach Extensions
You know how there's always that one step in the process where you either didn't take any pictures or the ones you did take are so blurry/dark/far away/etc that they don't actually help?
Yeah. Sorry, folks.
BUT! I do have a picture of the wig, divided into four sections. In this case, the top sections end at the edge of the skin cap. If your wig doesn't have a skin cap - or if the cap is very small, or if you're someone's actual head - separate the top sections based on the crown of the head. The base hair should also be parted down the middle, either in a straight part or with a zig-zig, so that it will form pigtails.
One at a time, take your extensions and attach one clip to the first weft (those little lines where the hair is sewn together) below the top section on one side, the attach the lower clip to the bottom edge of the wig or the lowermost weft it will reach. If your extensions only have one clip, attach it below the top section.
You may have to adjust and finagle the placement to get the extensions secure, but be careful not to pull too much on the base wig. Those wefts can tear pretty easily, even on a quality wig.
Step 5: Braid and Wrap Base Hair
There are three different ways to do this, depending on your braiding skills: simple braids, French braids, or inverted French braids (also called Dutch braids).
The end results are very similar, with the biggest difference being the size of the base braids. In the photos above, you can see the inverted French braid in the first three and the simple braid in the other two. Having tried and worn all three, I recommend sticking with the simple braids, unless you just really wanna get fancy. The simple braids go faster and make it easier to keep the fibers smooth.
(If you want to give the fancy braids a shot, there's lots of Instructables on basic French braids and Dutch braids.)
Whichever type of braid you use, the process is generally the same. For a French/Dutch braid, start near the temple and work toward the back of the head. When you reach the extension, continue your braid around it, trapping it between the sections of the new braid. (See the first photo above.) For a simple braid, take your bottom section from below the extension and the other two sections from above. Braid so that the extension is held between the bottom and middle sections of the braid. (See the fourth photo above.) Braid to the end and secure the new braid with a hair tie. Repeat on the opposite side.
When both sides are done, your hair should look something like photos 2 and 4, with the shorter braids hanging in between your extensions. One at a time, wrap the short braids under the extensions so that they start to circle your head (or the wig head). Secure them in place with pins. Photos 3 and 5 show the extensions hanging with the short braids wrapped.
Step 6: Wrap Extensions
One at a time, wrap the extensions around the crown of your head and secure them with bobby pins. You should be able to tuck the ends into the short braids and cover all the hair ties.
How your extensions line up with each other will depend on the width and weight of the braids and the size of your head. In the photos on the wig head, the braids are stacked one behind the other. In the photos where the wig is on me, they cross in the middle. Before pinning the second braid in place, try a few different configurations to see what feels sturdiest. Once you have everything set the way your want it, liberally apply that fuckton of bobby pins to make sure it stays there.
You will also want to liberally apply hairspray, just to show those little hairs who's boss.
Step 7: Save the Galaxy
Now that you've put the topping on your Badass Space Princess ensemble, you're ready to go lead a rebellion or two. Or just sit around being gorgeous. Whichever.