Sew Your Own Hair Rollers

When I was little, my hair would not hold a curl for more than about 5 minutes. But whenever my mom would do my hair rags overnight, my hair would be super bouncy and curly for a long time. I also remember the frayed strands from the torn cotton hair rollers getting tangled in my hair from everything being tied together. As a kid, that’s never fun.

The other day, I was in line at the store and saw these heatless curlers, and thought, might as well give these a try. I got home and opened them, and couldn’t believe how simple they were! Two rectangles sewn together and snaps?! I instantly said, “I can make these hair rollers, and better, and I bet I could even sell them in my salon.”

So here is how I did it. You can personalize them for your hair. You can make them longer, for longer hair, and a looser wave. If you choose not to fill them, the end result will be tighter curls. Filling the rollers makes them more sturdy, making it easier to wrap the hair around them, and resulting in a looser curl. I made 8 hair rollers which seems to be a good amount for thin to medium hair. You might want to make some more for medium to thick hair, also depending on if you want more curly or more wavy. The larger the sections you take, the more wave you’ll get, and less curl. 

Here’s what you’ll need for diy hair rollers:
  • Woven fabric (I used some kind of minky for extra comfort.)
  • Poly-fil
  • Snaps

Step 1. Cut 16 rectangles 6 inches wide by 2.75 inches long. 

Step 2. Place two rectangles on top of each other, right sides together. Sew all the way around using a ⅜” seam allowance. Starting and stopping on one of the long sides, being sure to leave about a 1 ½” opening to turn right side out. 

Step 3. Clip the corners, turn right side out through your opening, then poke out your corners. Iron if using the right fabric, otherwise straighten and smooth out.  If not adding Poly-fil skip to step 6. 

Step 4. Topstitch both short ends ½” from the edge. 

Step 5. Now fill your roller with the Poly-fil. It doesn’t need to be super full, just enough to give it a little structure. The amount you need will depend on how thick your fabric is. 

Step 6. Top stitch or hand sew your gap closed. Center and place the snaps on each short end. Then, repeat with your remaining cut pieces.

Now, onto the styling. You’ll get the best results if left in overnight, but if you have the time, you can also put them in, and diffuse them, or leave them in all day. You can put these in any way you like, but this is how I like to do them. This style is going to give you a more relaxed beach-y curl. And this is using 8 rollers, which is a good starting point, and you can modify accordingly. 

Starting with slightly damp hair will be best. But nothing too wet, that it won’t dry being wrapped up around itself overnight. You could also add a little curl cream for a little extra boost. Having it damp will also help with control of the hair. 

DIY Hair Curler

Step 1. Section the hair in half, from ear to ear, around the back of the head, so there is a top and bottom. I like to go up into the occipital a little, since there is less hair underneath that. Clip the top part up and out of the way. 

DIY Hair Curler

Step 2. Gauge how many hair rollers you’ll use. I used 3 for my model, and 2 on my mannequin. Starting on one side, make a vertical parting for the first roller. 

Step 3. Pull out your section and grab a roller. Place the roller in the middle of your section, facing the back of the head. Wrap the hair around the roller, mid-shaft to ends; the ends will probably want to stick out some, but that’s okay. Then roll the hair roller, in the same direction that you wrapped the hair, up to the scalp, and snap your roller! If you want more of a blow out/hot roller/volume look, start at the end of the hair, wrap the ends around the roller, and roll then roll up. 

DIY Hair Curler

Step 4. Repeat with your bottom section, in the same manner, alternating the direction you are wrapping the hair. So place the roller facing the front of the head. (But the ones around the hairline, make sure they are going the same direction, either going away or towards the face.)

Step 5. You can now let down your top section. For the mannequin I did 4 equal sections, with horizontal subsections in the front, since she had more hair there, and I wanted her to have more curl around the face. On the top I wrapped them back, and above the ears, I wrapped them forward. For my model, I just kind of did what made sense. 

Step 6. Finally, use a diffuser attachment on your blow dryer, or sleep in the hair rollers overnight. Once dry, remove by unrolling, finger comb the hair, and tussle at the root. My model wasn’t in the mood to sit and wait for the diffuser, so we got it mostly dry and took the rollers out. I loved the beachy, natural wave she got from it. The mannequin was left overnight, and she got such a fun, bouncy curl from it!

Have fun playing and trying what works best for you!

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