How to Embroider Hair (and Make it Curly!)

How to Embroider Curly Hair - This free embroidery video tutorial and pattern feature a hand drawn elvish queen profile and 14 minute video tutorial set to soothing music. Click to learn more and get your free embroidery pattern download!

If you enjoy embroidering--you've no doubt seen 3D hair popping from a 2D stitched design. Learn how to embroider realistic-looking hair (including curly embroidered hair) with this free pattern download and video tutorial! This art style is so fun with a gorgeous result!

My first several times using the hair technique, I was embroidering animals, but when I joined Folktale Week on Instagram this year, I really struggled with the last day's prompt: Crown.

So many folktales feature royalty!

From Cinderella to Sleeping Beauty, Snow White to Peau Dans--many, many kings and princesses, Queens and Dukes.

I wanted to create something a little less defined, so I thought about creating a textile "Queen Bee" after the Grimm's tale featuring the same name--unfortunately my limited working hours meant that design kept getting pushed, and I needed to make something less time-consuming.

After poring over books and internet fables, I knew I wanted something that resembled the elvish queen Galadriel from Lord of the Rings.

A modern fairy tale by JR Tolkien, I wondered if there was an origin to my favorite character of the series buried in the oral traditions of the British Isles.

Whether Tolkien meant the connection or not--Galadriel is strikingly similar to the "Fairy Queen Elfame" of Irish and Scottish folklore.

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A beautiful and wise leader among the fairies, Elfame is featured in many stories and was even cited in witch trials of the 1600s.

She was mostly benevolent, but had a nasty streak of retribution when her lands were disturbed or she was somehow disrespected.

Drawing inspiration from Galadriel and the stories of Elphame (modern spelling), I sketched the profile of a woman with high cheek bones, long lashes, an ethereal cape, silver crown, and flowing locks.

After finishing the embroidery and curling her hair, I set the stitching in a pretty frame and added real dried ferns, moss, flowers, and other bottanicals, plus some painted leaves from other fabric to make a mixed media textile art piece. 

I love how it turned out and am super excited to hang it on the wall! I wanted it to look like the Fairy Queen was gliding through the forest with her hair softly floating in the wind. 

If you make something from my pattern, please tag me on Instagram @cinderellasews, so I can see it and share it in my stories! I love seeing other people's art!

The pattern is small, but with the video tutorial, I wanted to offer you something free to practice the technique! It's not a polished pattern, but it's something to get you started!

Make sure to download and print it out, so you can follow along with the video! I simply transferred the pattern by using a regular pencil, and holding both the pattern and fabric against a brightly back-lit window.

It fits a small embroidery hoop and you'll need an assortment of embroidery threads to correspond to the color of hair you want her to have.

I used stem stitches for her ear, face outline, neck, crown, and shoulders, a back stitch for her arms, and some single tiny stitches for her eye lashes and to sew her dress in place.

P.S. You can curl the thread before stitching. The curls are tighter, but for mine, I wanted a really gently wave, like Cate Blachett's Galadriel wig!

I hope you enjoyed this month's tutorial! I'll be continuing to add art pieces for sale and doing one tutorial a month--but they'll be big tutorials with videos and patterns 😉

If the embedded video is acting funny, you can click here to open your device's YouTube app!



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