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Quaintrelle Style

A secret of the ages, Victorian ladies used them to bolster their locks, they are an indispensable prop for the Gibson girl hair style, and 40's starlets, they are even the secret to the fullness in a maikos hair! The hair rat was a girls best friend for centuries, but today seems to have fallen out of favor and into the catalog of things our grandmothers did.

As a girl with very little hair and a desire to make it look as puffy and glamorous as the women in old photographs, I'm bringing back the rat.! I hope perhaps after reading this your vanity drawer will have a rat problem too!

Let's explore a little history, and then set to with a little beauty DIY!

Hair receiver

The Victorian lady did not like to admit to wigs, it was all the fashion to say "it's all my own hair!" and early rats were just that.! A lady would carefully pull the broken and spent hair from her hair brush, and store it away in a pretty hair receiver to use later to make rats. hair receivers were in use well into the 20th century, a smallish pot with a hole in the top. Anyone who has scoured through a few antique shops or hunted for antique vanity sets has probably come across them. If your hair stays the same color, this is a great way to get your rat. Just pull the hair from your brush, store it up, and when you have enough saved bundle it with a hair net into the shape you want and presto a hair rat!

The Modern rat

For the modern lady this old fashioned practice can sometimes seem a little icky, for others who change their hair color as often as their socks, it can seem impossible to collect enough hair fast enough to be of any use.

There are companies today who sell rats made of foam and a special linky net in sausage forms that come in different shades of browns, blondes and blacks. These can be a little tricky to find sometimes, and only offer a limited range of color, size and shape. The good news is though, where there is a will there is a way! Desperate for hair rats, but sporting purple hair a few years back I decided to make my own! You can use bulk hair made for extensions, but one of my favorite techniques involved inexpensive wool roving (the stuff used in felting) from a local fabric or craft store, only costs about $2 and takes no time to make!


  • Find a color that most closely matches your natural hair
  • If need be you can combine multiple colors of loser wool roving to get a closer match
  • Roll the wool into sausages for hair rolls etc

Using your rats to archive a full hair style:

Take your roving and shape into rolls to for a rat
For bumper bangs wrap front of hair around wool rat
Secure bangs round the rat with bobby pins to hold
For plump victory rolls wrap sides of hair around rat and secure as before
You can also wrap hair in the back around a rat for an elegant hollywood chignon
after desired style is achieved finish with a firm hold hair spray
* Dress featured in this demo available from Candy Violet

This is a quick simple retro hair style you can achieve quickly with your rats, but with a little creativity and practice you can use your rats in different shapes and sizes to add fullness to any up do where your natural head of hair just isn't enough to give desired volume.

Try adding a bit of wool as an aid where back combing is required, you can even use it for amazing height and grip with bumpits for suitably rococo heights!



Hair receiver: beauty Aids of the Past

No RSVP (1943 rat article)

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