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My focus this week has been on some epic wig repairs at English National Opera. A full week has been spent adding foundation lace to extend front lace wigs and adding nape extensions on a pile of full lace wigs. The wig repairs were needed for one of our ladies in the ENO Chorus needed. All seven of her wigs were ill fitting and required immediate attention. The 1940s war slogan ‘make do and mend’ definately came into play.


wig repairs human hair


A Week Of Wig Repairs


A full week of wig repairs has been happening in the wig room at English National Opera.

Question: What happens when you have a bag of beautiful human hair, full lace wigs that simply do not fit your artist?

Answer: You dust off your skills, get your wig making kit out and make do and mend!

Sounds simple? Not always, sometimes it is much trickier to make wig repairs by adding foundation lace extensions than it is to build a whole new lace foundation wig.

I found myself with 7 wigs and all 7 of them were needing wig repairs.

7 new front lace wig  extensions in 40 denier flesh lace.

3 nape extensions in 40 denier double lace that had been dyed for the purpose.

Let the epic wig repairs begin!


Wig Repairs: Extending The Nape


A head block which has been padded to reflect the artist’s current head measurements is used. The wig is placed over the block and then assessed to find out exactly what repairs are required.

To create the  extension, the wig foundation lace  is laid onto the block and pinned in the same way as if making a full lace wig foundation. The only difference being is that just the nape section is used (as shown below). It is sewn (whipped) using the same method but just floats there all by itself.


Foundation Lace

The Nape Extension Before Being Attached To The Wig


The wig is then pulled back over the block and pinned securely onto the nape extension using fine blocking pins. The outer edge is sewn (whipped) down to secure it over the new piece. Once done the wig is removed from the block, the whole thing is turned inside out and the inner edge of the nape piece is hemmed and sewn down to create the brand new nape. The nape is then ready for knotting hair into it.


Here Is The Tricky Bit!


Suddenly you discover the wig has had a few extensions added in the past. This is when it gets tricky. Many layers of lace to navigate your way around.

A few of these wigs displayed a history of wig making on their undersides. What is needed is to unpick the layers of lace not required under your new extension piece. If they were left under your new extension it would result in the poor Wiggie that was applying the wig for the next show not being able to pin it onto the artist’s head. Too many layers of lace is no match for a fine hair pin. One angry Wiggie and a pile of bent pins would ensue.

Once it is all whipped and secure you are left with your extension ready for knotting.


Wig Repair

The Completed Wig Nape Extension

inside a lace wig foundation

The History Of Wig Making: Old repairs need to be removed before the new nape extension can be sewn down


Wig Repairs: Extending The Front


The front lace wigs are extended in the same way as the napes. The 40 Denier flesh foundation lace is laid over the head block and whipped. Once done the wig is pulled over and and sewn down onto the new front lace wig extension, turned inside out, hemmed and whipped.

Hey Presto, one new front. Times 7 of course!

A cotton line marks out the new hairline and job done.


40 Denier Foundation Lace Front wig repairs

Cotton Hairline Marked Out


Lace Front Wig Repairs

Front Wig Extensions With Parting


So that was my week. I now have 7 wigs all ready to knot hair into them and a very happy artist with a new wig for every day of the week. It was a very productive week and the wig repairs completed I will spend the next few weeks knotting human hair into the lace. The result is 7 wigs ready for the upcoming season at English National Opera. 


Philip Carson-Sheard

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