How-To: Make a Dreadlock Wig for Halloween

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Let’s take a trip to way back in the day, October 2006. I had just begun experimenting with tutorials. I was making a Halloween costume for myself, and thought that I would just snap some quick pictures of the process and throw them up on Flickr. It was my first “self-published” project. The costume was a “Shadow Fairy” sort of thing. Meaning, dark green dreadlocks, a sparkly black dress, and some wings that I made out of coat hangers and black tights. I think most people thought I was a Rastafarian Tooth Fairy, but hey, I loved my outfit, and I took pride in knowing I made it all myself. For today’s project, I am going to share my ultra simple tutorial in all it’s blurry, old-school glory.
This post has triggered negative feelings in people, and I want to apologize. I created this dreadlock wig in 2006 as hair for a type of gothic, dark, forest fairy. I realize that by not sharing the costume in it’s entirety, I left it open for interpretation. And the way that it was interpreted was as an insensitive and racially charged project. I want it to be clear to everyone that I had no intention of mocking anyone, no intention of cruelty, and no intention of representing any group of people. It also very important for everyone to know that I do not condone using this project as a tool for perpetuating stereotypes.


4oz wool roving
Hot soapy water
Use dishwashing liquid for the suds.
Base for the wig
I used an old crocheted hat, but try any scarf that will tie to your head will work.
Needle and thread


Step 1: Lay out a towel to keep the floor dry. Section off the roving into long chunks, like on the left in the photo above. Then dip the chunks into the hot water. Roll them in between your hands as if you were making a snake out of clay. The roving will stick to itself, and form a dread. If you like, roll the snake on the towel to tighten it up.
Step 2: Wring out the water, and lay the dreads flat to dry.
Step 3: Choose a base for the wig, and starting at the crown, sew the ends of the dreads to the base. Try to make the “part” fairly even, as this seam will be the only truly visible one. After securing the first rows of dreads, sew the remaining dreads to the base working down as you go. The dreads will look straight and hang straight. To give mine a bit more of an authentic look, I scrunched them up and tied some back behind my head.

38 thoughts on “How-To: Make a Dreadlock Wig for Halloween

  1. anon says:

    Wow… what cultural appropriation. Gross.

  2. Brookelynn says:

    I am sorry that this project has offended you. Where I live, in Northern California, dreads are a very popular hairstyle for people of all cultures and lifestyles. Plus, wigs have been used to transform people’s looks for ages and ages and ages. If a natural brunette were wearing a blonde wig, would that be also gross to you, because the brunette was appropriating the culture of the blonde? I’m wondering if I had called this a yarn wig, would it bother you less?

  3. Cat says:

    This is a fantastic project and a great tutorial. Don’t listen to the haters. I have natural dreads and I fully support ANYone who wants to try it out for a day (or a night) for fun, for costume, for just about whatever reason anyone can think of. Heck, now I’m even tempted to dress up as a Rastafarian Tooth Fairy for Halloween!

  4. says:

    I really like this project, and maybe it’s just because I’m from the Seattle area, but dreads like this aren’t that unusual for extensions for folks. Even on white chicks. I wear mine in blues and greens.

  5. msredkitty says:

    Well, let me preface this by saying I’m a white woman who just took her real dreads out after 9+ years. Given that dreadlocks were worn by celtic, norse, viking, greek, indian, pacific island and many other indigenous and ancient cultures, it’s hard for me to hear and believe that it’s a “cultural appropriation”. Besides, it’s a freaking halloween costume. lighten up.

  6. kat says:

    I plan on making one of these for the Village Halloween parade in NY this year. Thanks for the info.
    To the person who had a problem with this, lighten up! Halloween is a time for spoofs and exaggerations. Life is too short to be offended by Halloween wigs.

  7. Anon says:

    If you think blondes and brunettes have different cultures, you need to do some basic anti-racist research. Would you defend back facepaint as hard as you’re defending this wig? Shouldn’t the fact that people thought you were dressed as a Rasta tell you something?

  8. Brookelynn says:

    I don’t understand if you think the wig is racist, or if you think my comment is racist? Rasta culture is embraced by many people in my community, and yes, as I explained in the post, one of my friends suggested that I looked Rastafarian. But that person was not implying that I was mocking or appropriating that culture. Because I wasn’t.
    As for my metaphor between blondes and brunettes… Plenty of blondes have VERY different cultures from plenty of brunettes. There are blondes who have different cultures from other blondes even. What I was attempting to say, was that hairstyle and culture is a tenuous connection at best. Consider the point made above where it is mentioned that many cultures from across the globe have worn dreads.
    I am surprised that you would imply that this Halloween dreadlock wig is even close to blackface. Which, to answer your question, I would never defend. I simply want to say that there is nothing wrong with someone wanting to wear a wig to give them a different hair style or different hair color.

  9. Wolfie E. Rawk says:

    Funny that my comment on how racist this is didn’t get approved…

  10. How-To: Make a Dreadlock Wig for Halloween Becky Stern says:

    Hi, anonymous comments are subject to our space-laser spam filter, sorry if maybe yours was zapped, it was not an editorial decision. We encourage you to create an account to comment on our blog without fear of the space lasers.

  11. Allison says:

    I think this is an awesome craft! Thx for sharing with us!
    To the person above who thinks this craft is in anyway racist: Your assumption that dreadlocks is even associated with one type of race is wrong. Sure, the Rastafarians might have made the hairstyle popular, but the hairstyle itself is not confined to just one race.
    Dreads are considered very bohemian and nowadays are worn by a lot of rockers and some hipsters. It’s a lot of effort to create dreads and their upkeep is such a hassle… so a wig is a nice way to have dreads without all the upkeep involved with keeping them.

  12. S. Johnson says:

    This article is a mistake. I’m sure you’re not a racist, but you’ve inadvertently done something racist in this article. Consider that locs are repeatedly represented in mass media as alien, suspect, and wild, and that you have reinforced that representation with this article, and such descriptions as “Shadow Fairy”. A useful popcultural referent is “Alien vs Predator”.
    It is not necessary to demonstrate that locs are associated with black culture; you yourself highlight the association of locs with black culture here: “most people thought I was a Rastafarian Tooth Fairy”.
    It is not acceptable to “other” your fellows in this way, by parodying their cultures and bodies. Monsters aren’t real; black folks are.
    Reconsider your actions. It’s okay to make a mistake, but it’s a poor thing to fail to learn from one. Thank you for listening.

  13. L says:

    I think it’s important to conserve strong, emotionally charged words like “racist” for *serious* situations. I know not everyone thinks this way. There is great value in careful word choice. One reason is to avoid diluting the power of the word. Another is to avoid saying what you don’t mean.
    I think the word “racist” is used in excess, when other words or phrases would get closer to the truth. Words are not meant to be a blanket – a wall between people. Words are a tool to bring more clear understanding between people. Communication. In that spirit…
    Do you think it’s acceptable to dress up like something or someone that you are not on Halloween? If no, then you and I disagree. If yes…
    Do you think it’s acceptable for a person to dress up like another culture, not their own? If no, then you and I disagree. If yes…
    Then it comes down to common sense. Evaluating each costume on a case-by-case basis.
    Is the costume mean-spirited? If yes, then it’s possible the costume is racist.
    Is the costume making fun of another culture? If yes, then it’s possible the costume is racist.
    The answers to these questions are subjective, but I ask you to be real in your evaluation.
    If the person wearing the costume is emulating some quality of another ethnicity because they think it’s beautiful, or interesting, that is not wrong. Bottom line. No matter if they are white emulating black, black emulating Asian, American emulating Canadian, Brazilian emulating Peruvian.
    Life is the mixing of ideas, languages, aesthetics, blood lines. If you disagree with that, then life will be a constant stuggle for you, because that is a universal truth.

  14. Katie says:

    Signing on to those folks who are in shock that you’d think this is appropriate.
    As a woman of East Asian descent I feel the exact same way about those geisha girl costumes I see every Halloween.
    Making a costume out of a feature that is part of someone’s actual appearance is racist. It is a racist thing to do.

  15. eli says:

    How culturally clueless!
    Maybe many cultures across the globe have worn dreads. Did anyone ask if you were a viking fairy. No.
    You mentioned Rasta fairy.
    Locs are a hairstyle that is unseverably tied to African heritage, and your tonedeaf responses to people’s objections are ignorant.

  16. Kat says:

    To the people who are attacking this poor girl, please try to think clearly.
    I tried to dig through the nastiness to see what the reasoning is here as to why she is racist, and I still can’t find any. She gave you the full context for her costume, and it is not in any way culturally offensive.
    This tutorial. IT IS FOR A HAIRSTYLE. THAT IS ALL. This is not a “how to dress up as Rastafarian” tutorial or a “how to dress like a black person/rip off their culture” tutorial. THIS. IS. A. WIG. TUTORIAL. For a hairstyle that all sorts of people wear. Would you find it less offensive if she dyed her hair black and put it in dreads for REAL? I mean, come on.
    Besides, I thought Afros were the hairstyle that was considered politically charged/pro-natural black beauty, not dreads. Dreadlocks actually take insane amounts of time and effort to maintain, they aren’t “natural” at all. I could see why an Afro wig on a white person would be crossing the line, but dread wigs/extensions are popular just because it’s pretty hard to go back once someone decides to lock their hair.
    Now, there are plenty of Halloween costumes that ARE based in ignorance and racial stereotyping. Just the other day I saw an “Illegal Immigrant” costume for sale and it made me sick to my stomach. I also see tons of sexist and degrading women’s costumes just about EVERYWHERE. Why is this so offensive?

  17. lol says:

    I fail to see why people are getting so mad. EVERYONE had dreads before the invention of the hairbrush, lol.

  18. tombombadil says:

    Fairies of the forest shadows have never even SEEN a hairbrush. Hence the matted hair. But supposedly they groom their wings meticulously. Go figure.
    Elves, on the other hand, have fifty different words for comb. You never see them with a single strand out of place.

  19. KB says:

    Oh dear lord. I can’t believe these people are attacking you over a wig. I guess people don’t quite get that not everyone is out to get them.
    You were linked on a page about racism so I’m sure you’re getting the brunt of their e-Army. I wish people would chill out about the little things and do stuff about the things that matter.
    I think it’s neat. I’ll link my friend who likes working with wool.

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