Frugal, Festive Hair for Your Little Girl (Or You!)

by monthly contributor, Natalie Didlake

Here’s a tutorial on how to get fabulous, Shirley Temple-style curls on your daughter. You’ll love the look, she’ll feel like a princess, and you both will have a great time putting these comfy, easy, and free rollers in!

I have fond memories of holiday eves curling my hair with my mom, and I love making those same memories with my daughter. (The above pic was taken at least 24 hours after her rollers were taken out…still curly! So sorry I didn’t get a better pic.)

Note: I’ve rolled my own hair like this, then pulled it back into a curly ponytail…a thrill for a girl who’s always had straight hair!

- An old sheet, pillowcase, or other discarded cotton
- Brush
- Spray bottle filled with water
- Snacks or other bribe to keep a wiggly child sitting still for 10-15 minutes

1. Cut the pillowcase into 2″ x 6″ strips. I have about 20, but thin hair will require less, and thick hair more.

2. Brush out clean, dry hair very smooth. (Hair can also be very slightly damp.)

3. Spritz dry hair from roots to end very lightly with a spray bottle filled with water.

4. Starting at the crown of the head, separate a section about 1″ x 1″, or however much hair you’d use to curl with a curling iron. Brush the section directly away from the head at a 90 degree angle.

5. Put rag on the underside of the hair, at the ends. Roll the hair around the rag tightly, all the way to the roots. Make the sure the ends do not slip out.

6. Tie the rag in a double knot around the hair.

7. Have your daughter sleep on these comfy rollers overnight. If hair feels damp in the morning, run a warm blow drier over the rollers.
8. Carefully unroll the rags, working from roots to ends. Do not try to pull them out!

9. Brush out for frizzy, wavy hair. Don’t brush for ringlet-style curls. Spritz with hair-spray for longer hold, and garnish with a big bow! These curls usually hold almost all day on my lively daughter’s fine, straight hair.

About NDidlake

Natalie Didlake is the mother of three lively little ones, Sabrina (age 5), Roarke (age 3), and Alexia (age 2). She has been married to the winsome and brilliant Aaron for 6 years. They live in Mississippi, where they still have no clue how to be "southern." Natalie's goals are to bring the gospel to bear on every ounce of womanhood, love and enjoy her family, and maybe capture some of it in writing. In between, Natalie likes to squeeze in cooking, blogging, taking pictures of her cute kids, couponing, and saving oodles of money by bargain-hunting. Natalie blogs at Guarded by the Gospel.

20 Responses to Frugal, Festive Hair for Your Little Girl (Or You!)

  1. Janelle December 14, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

    I did rag curls for a dance back in high school. It has been the only method to get my hair to hold a curl for a decent amount of time!

  2. Susie March 3, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    I soooooooo remember my gram doing this to my sisters and me like it was yesterday and, we loved it sooooo much….I’ve been wanted to do it for my granddaughter ever since she got HAIR but, she barely sits still for me to put a pony in….she’s 4 going on 20….I have MS and i get pretty shakey pretty often so its hard to do these kinds of things…..but I’m gonna give it a try………(;

  3. Marina December 23, 2011 at 9:19 am #

    My Mom used to use old nylon knee-highs or cut the legs off of worn out pantyhose (you could probably get at least two curlers out of a leg). She always did it while our hair was wet, and we never (that I can remember) had a problem with it not being dry in the morning.

  4. Heather December 21, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    I did this to my hair all of the time when I was in high school. I also used shoelaces and they worked just as well.

  5. Sarah December 16, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

    Oh my, what memories seeing these pictures! As the oldest of 4 girls (the 4 boys came next!) almost every Christmas and Easter we would go to bed the night before with these exact rag curls and then the next day put on our new smocked dresses that our Grandma hand made for us! This lasted until I was 12-13 ! We used the same bag of rag strips every year!

  6. Lorilee @ Loving Simple December 11, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

    This is such a great idea! Thanks, I am going to try it out this week. My daughter is 8 and always wants me to braid her hair for curls, but this looks much better.

  7. Jessalyn December 10, 2011 at 9:58 am #

    I remember my aunt doing this to mine and my cousin’s hair before we would go to bed and waking up for church with curly hair. It is such a sweet memory!

  8. Amber-Lee December 9, 2011 at 6:25 pm #

    Another painless way to get pretty curls is pincurls, Us adult women can put a square scarf on our heads and look retro cute!

  9. Deanna December 9, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    I have done this very successfully but with clean socks. Another method is called headband curls. It gives a slightly looser curl but is gorgeous and only requires a cloth headband. Youtube has some good tutorial on the method mentioned as well as on the headband curls.

  10. Bethany December 9, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

    Love this! And perfect timing! My husband and I are having our 5th anniversary date weekend (quite a treat with three children under 4) and I’ve been trying to figure out how to keep my fine hair curly all day and evening! Will definitely try this.

  11. Lydia @ The Vintage Mama December 9, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    Very sweet! I’ve done this on myself before with great success. I just have to be careful not to leave them too long on my short hair or else I end up looking like Shirley Temple! =)

  12. Lexie December 9, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

    My 3 year old is blessed with naturally curly hair! People ask me all the time if I curl it… guess this goes to show that people actually do spend more than 5 seconds on their children’s hair. :) This is a great idea and way better than those foamy pink things my mom used to make me sleep in. :)

    • Kara December 9, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

      I was thinking the same thing about those pink foam things :)

  13. Ashley Godoy December 9, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    Could extra ribbon work as well? I was just given a baby shower and someone made a diaper tree/money tree. And there were so many ribbons involved! They are the big ribbons and I have tons of them now! Could these just be rolled up and tied as well? Love the idea!

    • Georgia August 20, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

      I would think so since someone mentioned they used shoe laces.It might be more of a large wave.But if you try it and don’t like the result maybe fold or cut them in half.

  14. Lanai December 9, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    Putting this down in my book of frugal traditions!! My hair is straight & flat… Well see if my azlyn’s is too.. I can’t wait to make these memories with her! :)
    You should also look up the sock bun! It leaves curl in the right kind of hair too.. Just made mine frizzy but really cute bun!

  15. Lacey Wilcox December 9, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    Oh my goodness–LOVE this!! I’m wishing that either 1.) I hadn’t just cut my hair, or 2.) my daughter’s hair was longer than an inch right now!

    I can’t wait to try this someday!

  16. Faith December 9, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    This is a great idea! Would be way more comfortable than sleeping in actual plastic rollers too!

  17. April December 9, 2011 at 11:01 am #

    Great idea! Been trying to figure out how to curl my straight hair without buying expensive products or uncomfortable curlers. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Sarah December 9, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    My grandmother used to do this for me and my girl cousins when we came for a visit. It was always such a treat and something I will always remember. One tip. Instead of using an old sheet that you have to cut up, my grandmother would just pull out some clean socks from the drawer. Worked just as well.