Works For Me: Rag Rollers

I have a daughter who, sadly, inherited her mother’s hair.  It’s thick, fine and there’s not a single curl in sight.  And I have some serious concerns about using a curling iron on a little person who rarely stops moving.

Instead, I decided to try rag rollers, for an occasional day of curls.  They’re easy, cheap and comfortable–a perfect solution.  And my daughter loves them–it makes her feel like we’re playing dress-up.

1.  Simply find some fabric (I used an old sheet), and tear or cut it into strips that are about six to eight inches long and 1 inch wide (for extremely long or thick hair, you might want them to be longer and wider–you can experiment as you go).


2.  Take a strip of hair and hold the end at the center of one of the strips.


3.  Roll it up (The first few times I did it, it felt awkward, and I needed an extra set of hands.  You’ll get used to it after you’ve done it a while.)


4.  Tie the rag roller into a single knot at the scalp.


5.  Each segment of hair will look like this:


For best results, do this at bedtime with hair that is slightly damp (not wet).  Because they’re made only of fabric, they’re completely comfortable to sleep in.  In the morning, you’ll have a head full of curls, and they last all day!

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94 thoughts on “Works For Me: Rag Rollers

  1. Blue Castle says:

    Oh yes! My mom used to do our hair up in these when my sister and I were little. I even do mine in rag rollers now when I want some curls, but don’t want to use hot rollers.
    They really work, and they’re so cute on little girls.

  2. Rebecca (Green Baby Guide) says:

    I had nice, straight hair as a child, too. I tried everything to make my hair curly, and rag curlers were definitely the way to go.
    Now I am just upset I spent so much time making my perfectly straight hair curly! As soon as straight hair became the rage about ten-fifteen years ago, my hair turned curly. The same thing happened to my sister–I guess it runs inthe family. Now I spend all my time trying to make my hair smooth and shiny again. (Well, not ALL my time; I’m not that vain!)

  3. Steph says:

    Love the curling idea. My grandma used to put my hair up in gigantic rollers and set me under her hairdryer helmet-thingy. It was the only way I had any curl at all. Same with my girls now. I’ll have to give this a try.
    PS aaaaghhhh! I forgot to give a short description of my post when I linked. (#30) I don’t know how to fix it, but I blogged about Morning Chore Charts. Sorry!

  4. beth@thenaturalmommy says:

    I want to see an after picture. Because I tried this on my hair. And it did *not* turn out well. Thankfully, my hair can’t hold a curl anyway. 😛 So the disaster was short-lived.
    But I think your tip to try it on damp hair rather than wet would have made a big difference, too…
    But it is funny that you posted this. Because I seriously just looked this up and tried it a few weeks ago. I thought no one else did this anymore!

  5. Kirsty says:

    My mom did this for me and now I do it for my little girl. She loves it and it is so much more comfortable then hard rollers. I like the bonding time while we roll them up too 🙂 We use old pantihose.

  6. Stretch Mark Mama says:

    My mom used to do “finger curls,” one on each side of my head. In the 80s, I was so…very…60s.
    My Know It All Brain couldn’t for the life of me think of a WFMW tip this week. Don’t know how you do it, Shannon!

  7. Jerri says:

    What a cute idea! I used to always have to wear those pink sponge rollers when I was a kid. When I’d wake up, they’d always be all crooked on my head and one side of my head would curl beautifully — the other, not.

  8. Lori says:

    This is a great idea — I curled my daughter’s hair recently when she was a flower girl, but I was terrified of damaging it (it’s so fine) or burning her! I’m going to try this!

  9. prasti says:

    ooh la, la! great idea. i think i might have to try that for myself 🙂 i have super straight hair, and curling my hair w/ a curling iron sometimes takes too much time.

  10. Julie Stiles Mills says:

    I’ve GOT to try that! My daughter has “Alice in Wonderland” hair – long, blond and straight as a board! I sometimes put it in 6 to 8 braids while it’s damp and let her sleep in them. The next day we have waves that stay all day!

  11. Ruth Ann says:

    Could you post a picture of the result? Want to see what I can expect before I wrangle a child in a chair long enough to cover her head with rags! 🙂

  12. edj says:

    I’d love to see an “after” photo too.
    A friend once did my hair up in rag curls, which made no sense since I have thick, fine, curly hair. I think she just wanted to practice. Ilsa is starting to get curls as well, but she of course is hoping hers stays straight (too late, but she’s in denial).

  13. Aubrey T. says:

    After you put her hair up, you can read to her from Little house in the Big Woods – the Ingalls do this in that book. I always wanted to try this growing up, mostly because of my love of those books.

  14. canadacole says:

    I let my roomates do this to me in University. They each took a side of my head and it only took a few minutes. Except one roomate did lots of little tiny pieces, and the other did several big pieces. The next morning, one side of my head had nice big relaxed ringlets and the other side looked like a tight perm. Oops! Good times.

  15. Janessa says:

    I have to ask – where was that photo taken? It’s totally inconsistent with the other photos I’ve seen taken in your house. I’m curious.

  16. curvaliscious says:

    I am so glad that you posted this! My youngest daughter wants curls and I have been wanting to use rags to do it but I haven’t been able to find anywhere on the internet that gave a step by step, simple tutorial so that I could learn. Thanks!

  17. K says:

    I wish I had a little girl on which to try it! Maybe I could sneak up on one of my boys while he’s playing his Nintendo DS…their hair IS getting pretty long! Just kidding.
    Great idea! Sleeping in those wire ones as a kid was no fun.

  18. sandy says:

    You’re a cool mom, Shannon!
    Hey, my mom would wet my hair, wrap it around her finger and use bobby-pins to make curls/wringlets.
    I’d sleep on them and the only bummer in the morning – if one fell out! I hated that! LOL
    I think your way is better …
    Hope you are having a wonderful September!

  19. Janelle says:

    I remember sleeping in the pink foam and plastic rollers when I was a little girl Not exactly the most comfortable when you first lie down, but I figured out a way to make it work, I guess.

  20. Whitney @ Baby Tunnel Exodus says:

    Great tip! My daughter is 2, but she’s on the rather petite side and looks only 1. She doesn’t have enough hair to do this with yet, but I can hardly wait to do things like this when she does. :o)
    Thanks for WFMW! I have learned a LOT of great tips and met really great Moms. I just wanted to know that this has blessed me.
    Blessings, Whitney

  21. Connie says:

    My mom had four daughters and never did much of anything with our hair (straight, with straight bangs, hardly ever a ponytail or braid in sight!) but when HER mom (my grandma of course) came to visit, we’d do rag curls. Thanks for bringing back memories and giving me something to try on my daughter!

  22. Diane says:

    I just missed the link so if you want to know two favourite things of mine then go to my blog.
    Thanks I will try this trick with my daughter. Her hair is straight and it will look cute. I will post a pic when I do.
    thanks for sharing weekly

  23. Kathryn says:

    My mom used to do this on my hair when I was little, except she used socks. Little ones, because they’re thinner and easier to work with.
    And then the next day she’d use a curling iron to “fix” my bangs…the awful, poofy, HUGE kind of bangs.

  24. Jenna says:

    Thanks for this idea – it encouraged my daughter to take a shower last night with no complaints, then when her hair was damp we rolled it up. She slept just fine and her hair was super-curly this morning! It is now wavy, so I think next time I’ll spritz her with a little hair spray (her hair is fine). We loved it!!

  25. Helen says:

    My daughter and her dance troupe have curls for their dance competitions and we use rags too.
    If you are having trouble starting try using rags in triangles instead of strips. Just put one point to the end of the hair, fold it up & then roll away & tie them up just the same.
    I would love to see the ‘after’ photo too!!
    Helen in Australia

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