Thursday, 28 June 2012

Syrup Of Figs–A Tutorial

Conversation at school on Tuesday afternoon…

“We need something for the eight magistrates – but I have no idea what they should be wearing. Can you do wigs, Angela ?”

“Yes, I’ve done wigs before. I just need some wadding”

Back in 1993, Liz was in “Of Mice And Mozart”, which was her Primary School Leaver’s Production. Her teacher asked if anyone knew how to make Mozart wigs [they needed around 45!] something like this…


The following day, on a train journey to Didcot, I worked out that wadding would be the ideal material – cheap, easy to work with, and above all, it would be fast! On my return, I got out in Central London, dashed to John Lewis and bought a yard, came home on the next train, and made a prototype. Then I taught a group of Mums, and together we made the lot!  Here’s that original wig


It lives in a Twiglet tub in my drawer


I used it yesterday to make eight new wigs for school. Here’s how…

Each wig requires a piece of wadding 18” square. Cut out a T shape with top bar and central bar 6” across. You now have two rectangles 6” x 12” at each side. Cut them in half to make four 6” squares. Now trim a strip 1½” from the bottom of the central bar of the T.

DSCF4027DSCF4032Now roll the sides of each 6” square into the centre and sew down [fairly loosely- use big stitches, the wadding is very forgiving ]


Now roll up and stitch 1” on the ends of the ‘cross bar’. Fold down the centre bar and stitch down the sides.

I have balanced the wig on the arm of the sofa to give you an idea of the developing shape.

Now pin two ‘rolls’ on each side of the wig [line up the ends of the rolls with the front]


Stitch them in place by sewing along the centre gap between the two rolls. Also tack down the front edges of the rolls so that they don’t ‘flop’

You have about 5” of ‘tail’ hanging down. Fold up 2” to the inside. Run a gathering stitch through and pull tight. I find that winding round a few strands of cotton helps to hold it firmly.


Now take that strange narrow strip, and pleat it in the centre to make a chevron. Tack that along the top front of the wig.


DSCF4036That gives it a better shape. Finally tie a short piece of black ribbon round the tail.

Here’s four of the wigs on the table. [I must thank Susan for her help at Sewing Club last night to ensure all eight wigs were ready to deliver to school this morning] I also bought a pack of hairgrips [bobbypins] to ensure they stay on!


I made some jabots for these court officials to wear.


The neck band is a strip 3” by 16” folded over with raw edges inside at the bottom, and the jabot is a 7” square hemmed, pleated and trimmed with lace.

I put Velcro squares on the ends to fasten at the back of the neck.

tip –when putting Velcro on garments, put the sharp ‘hook’ side on the piece facing ‘outward’ and the soft ‘loop’ piece on the side which faces ‘inwards’ towards the skin. That way, the wearer is less likely to get scratched.

This is the OPPOSITE rule to notice boards! There you should put the hooks on the POSTER [inwards] and the loops on the BOARD[outwards] That means you can re-use the posters elsewhere on ‘fuzzy’ noticeboards if you need to!


Plain black tops and trousers, wigs and jabots. Costumes sorted.

What is your verdict, Mr Penry-Jones?

Well M’Lud, I think my client has already spent many hours doing community service and should be allowed to go free now!


  1. This is close to my heart,my great grandfather was a court milner and he used to make wigs for barristers.
    Jane x

  2. I'm amazed at your versatility and inventiveness! I'd've flapped about and been unable to come up with anything! Well done, Ang.

  3. Great job and a very creative solution. I would very much like to see this production. :)

  4. Our Jenny was in that play when she was a little girl! I made her a lovely dress. I must try to find it. Wow! You can make wigs, too?

  5. Angela ,You never cease to amaze me ,as I said earlier you missed ,your vocation ,They do say necestity (?sp) is the mother of invention ,was that an ancester of yours ? hee hee Jan xx


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