1st Attempt at Rag Curls

I’ve been thinking more about curling my hair this past week, as the rain seems to have abated in Chicago, for a bit at least.  I love the look of my sponge curls, but they are really uncomfortable for me to sleep on.  I’ve been on the hunt for a pain-free way to curl my hair when I started thinking about rag curls.

Pin curls are the easiest and most comfortable to sleep on but I’ve attempted pin curls once and the result was *blegh* looking, not to mention the curls lasted for all of 20 minutes.  I’m sure it was a user-error on my part, but I’m not jumping to try them again anytime soon.

Doing a quick search online led me to the following tutorials for rag curls:

I find that no one tutorial is the best and I take important information from each to do my own hair.

I cut around 16 strips or so of some basic cotton fabric from my scrap pile with the dimensions of 1.5″ wide by 6″ or 7″ long.

If you have the strips too long it looks more of a mess on your head and may be tricky to find which ends belong to each curl/knot.  But if you cut the strips too short, it’s hard to tie them up as needed.  I found 7″ in length was good enough for me.

I spritzed each section of my hair with setting lotion (lottabody watered down, as needed) and did one curl.  Then I spray another section of hair, and curl that.  I can’t spray my whole head at the same time since by the time I do one side of my head, the other would be dry again.  I’m just that slow…  So I only spray each curl by curl, as I go along.

Methodology of a Rag Curl:

You can use your finger, a pencil, or whatever ‘tool’ you have handy to curl your hair around.  You curl your hair around ‘tool’ and around the fabric strip at the same time, and then tie it once you’re done curling the piece of hair.  Essentially you’re making curls of hair without a foam roller in the middle.

Naturally, I found some long knitting needles to try out as ‘tools’ for curling my hair.  I had three different sizes and finishes of knitting needles and settled on using my jumbo US 35’s (15mm) of wooden needles for the bulk of my hair.  It seemed the most similar size to the foam curlers I had been using, so I thought the curls would be the same in the end.

For the short hair at the nape of my neck, I switched to a much smaller diameter of knitting needle (US size 13’s aka 9.0mm) so that the ends would stay tied in and I could get a few rotations of the tool to create the curl.

Surprisingly, it was easiest for me to curl the back of my head and tie a knot than it was to do the front of my head.  (This is the opposite of sponge curlers… where it’s harder for me to do the back vs. the front).  At a few points, I walked into the office to ask Felix to tie a knot for me since the sides were tricky to knot myself.

The first time trying anything new with my hair takes me F-O-R-E-V-E-R.  It took me around an hour to do this rag curl set.  But I’m a total newbie to doing my own hair, so don’t let this put you off from trying it yourself.  Next time, I’m sure it will take me less time as I’ve gotten a better hang of it.


I will say that sleeping in rag curls was a bit better than sponge rollers.  But I still woke up at several times throughout the night to get comfortable.  For me, I can only find 1 or 2 ‘less pain filled’ positions in which to sleep in with sponge rollers.  Whereas with the rag curls, I could sleep the way I normally do with less pain, but it was still like sleeping on tiny knots of fabric.

After sleeping :

I tied all of the  curls pretty tight, and only tied a single knot, instead of a full square knot (tying the knot twice).  I only tied a full knot on two curls that were at the base of my neck since those were the shortest and most likely to fall out.  But after sleeping, none of my curls came loose.

I brushed out each curl individually when I removed the rag, and this is what it looked like:

At this point, I noticed that the curls didn’t seem quite as tight and sproingy as when I use the sponge curlers… But I proceeded as I normally do with brushing my hair out.

After running the brush through a few times yields this lovely sight:

My hair looks like it could be that of an evil Disney character, no?!

But don’t fear!  Continued brushing fixes most of this.  :)

This came with much more brushing.  But I found that it was still a bit too full than my normal, sponge curl set so I tacked some pieces back on either side with bobby pins.

What I’ll do different next time:

My rag curls weren’t as precise and tame-able as the sponge curler set usually is.  I’m going to try and curl/style them a bit differently next time.

In order to sleep better, I’m going to use a smaller tool and start the curls lower down on my head.  This will get me a relatively flat crown but with tighter curls at the bottom of my hair.  I’m thinking that moving the curls further down will help me have a flatter head-surface to sleep on more comfortably.  :)  Doing this will make my curls look a bit more 30’s than 50’s.

But again, the rag curls were still better to sleep in than sponge curlers.

As to the styling, I think I’ll brush less and try to finger pick through my hair instead.  Since the rag curls wern’t as tight as the sponge ones, I’m thinking that a good finger picking through the curls may yield different & better results.

I tried to brush and style like I do with the 50’s style sponge curl that I do, and I don’t think I can do the same styling with a different curling method such as these rag curls.

While I’m pleased with my first attempt, I have a bit of refining to do in order to sleep better and style my hair a bit nicer.

Have any of you gals tried rag curls before?  Thoughts?  Tips?  Or do you have thoughts on an alternate curling method (no heat sets please) that would let me get better sleep?  :)

In: Hair & Beauty

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