Don't get scared - they actually turned out fab!
First, I should mention my reason behind DIY-ing this very intimidating hair process - it's just so economical! I mean, seriously, who has $500 laying around for a beauty experiment? I wanted to try out the look and convenience of permanent, (non-clip-in) sew-in extensions without making a major investment. This DIY on how to sew in your own hair extensions will help you do the same.
A Word About Hair Extensions
Everything you need (minus the friend!) is available at any beauty supply store. Try finding a wholesale store for the biggest and most inexpensive selection. I bought synthetic (non-human hair) extensions that can be curled, straightened and washed. At $9.99 a pack they were a steal, but next time I'm definitely going for real hair, which I won't have to be as careful with.
What You'll Need for DIY Sew-In Hair Extensions:
- 1-2 packs of hair extensions ("hair tracks," pictured at left) depending on your hair type. If you have a lot of thick hair, buy two packs. I have fine hair and didn't even use one pack.
- Hair extension thread (comes in brown, black, and blonde)
- Curved hair extension needle
- Rattail comb
- A few ponytail holders and hair clips
- A friend who can french braid (unless you want to go it alone like I did!)
- Wash and dry your hair. DO NOT do this on wet hair - cornrowing/french braiding wet hair will cause it to be too tight and you will rip it.
- Separate the top of your hair and clip it off, leaving a section of hair at the bottom out. Using the rattail comb, take a tiny section (as small as you can comfortably french braid/rattail) of hair from that section and braid off the remaining hair at the bottom to get it out of the way. The goal is to have a thin, horizontal french braid going across your scalp that you will attach the hair tracks to. Make sure you leave a bit of hair on each side by your ear OUT of the braid so you can put your hair in a ponytail and the extensions won't show.
- Cornrow that section of hair. Create a regular braid from any remaining hair and tie it off with a ponytail holder.
- Fold track in half so you have two layers of hair. It's not necessary but creates thickness. Measure so it's the length of the cornrow and cut it.
- Thread the needle, doubling the thread and tying it off at the end.
- Sew the tracks together starting at the folded end.
- Place that end of the track at the beginning of the cornrow and begin sewing to the braid. When you make the first "loop," pull the needle back through the loop. This will add security to the extension.
- Go all the way down your head using this process. When you get to the end, sew through the second to last "loop" to add security. Do this a few times then knot it off.
- Repeat this process again a few inches up, leaving hair between the two sections. Make sure before doing the top section that the natural hair coming from the crown of your head will cover the track completely.
- If you like, you can add two two-three inch tracks on either side of your head. Make a deep part and sew the tracks at that spot, a few inches above your ear. Make sure to leave out the hair right next to your hair so the track isn't visible when your hair is up.
- Enjoy your new extensions! Mine are pictured here at left.
Note: Your extensions, especially if they are synthetic, require very delicate handling, especially in the shower. I try to only wash the top of my head (I wash my hair every day) and the natural hair between the extensions, putting the actual extensions in a ponytail so they aren't shampooed and don't get wet. I wash my entire head, extensions included, once a week. Pay special attention to the spots the tracks are attached - they can get moldy! (Ew!)