My four-year-old daughter loves spring as much as I do. Finding the perfect Easter dress is one of our favorite springtime activities. This year she picked out a pattern, retro 80’s and fabric, rose pink, and she is carefully monitoring my performance as I sew. She can’t wait to wear it for Easter egg hunts, Easter pictures, church services, and Easter dinner.
We always have one problem, though – her hair. My daughter has the finest, most flyaway hair ever, and she wants curls to go with her pink dress. I could never solve this problem. I was afraid I would singe her hair off with a curling iron, and there is not a curler made that will stay in her fine slippery hair. This year I thought I would try something a little more old-fashioned – rags.
The Lost Art of Rag Rolling
I have fond memories of my grandmother doing my hair this way. I used to sit at her kitchen table at night after dinner and watch her rip old sheets into tiny strips. Then she would wet my hair with a comb and carefully tie strip after strip into my hair with her papery arthritic hands. Afterward, she tied a silk scarf around my head to keep them all in place while I slept. In the morning, the rags came out to reveal bouncy curls that stayed for days, even after a shampoo. This year I thought – why not try rags?
I found the perfect rag material is soft, old cotton crib sheets. I couldn’t figure out how to tear them into perfect little strips as my grandmother did, so I cut mine. I made the strips about a quarter-inch wide and six inches long. I did not know how easy getting the strips in her hair would be. My daughter is frustratingly sensitive. She hates scratchy material and usually refuses to wear anything in her hair. I have a cupboard full of unused barrettes, headbands, and hair ties.
She wanted curly hair, though, and agreed to try the rag idea. So, after her bath, I rubbed some curl setting gel into her hair and started. First, I combed out a tiny section of hair and tied it on a rag, sliding it down almost to the end of the section. Then, I slowly rolled it up toward her head, securing the strip by tying it once again. I tied between 10 and 14 rags in her hair. There is an art to getting just the right amount of hair in a section. Too much and the curl will not set, too little and the strip might have to be removed with scissors. Thankfully, the latter problem has not happened yet.
Immediately after I tied the last rag in my daughter’s hair, she wanted them out, of course. After a little motivational speech and an agreement to ditch the silk scarf, she went to sleep with the rags in her hair. Without the scarf to hold them in place, many of the rags fell out before morning, but her hair was curly – victory! The curls even stayed buoyant for most of the day, without hair spray.
I would highly recommend rag rolling for any little girl with fine, straight hair. My daughter is looking forward to getting her picture taken in her new pink dress with curly hair.
Thank you for reading!