This will be the first of the step-by-step braiding instructions in my braiding series. I've already covered The Difference Between French Braids, Dutch Braids, and Cornrows, as well as how to make one of these nifty braiding practice boards. Now it's time to get down to the nitty-gritty.
So let's start with the basics.
1. Grab a row of "hair" and separate into three sections. This example has three colours that represent three sections of hair.
2. Do a stitch of regular braids.
3. The section in your right hand should be the "cream" coloured hair. This is the section to which will be adding hair (the green hair, like pictured above).
4. Cross the right-handed hair (the green and cream hair formed above) over the middle section of hair.
5. Add section to the hair that is in you left hand (the green hair). The hair that you will be adding will be from the left side, or the purple hair.
6. Now cross that over the middle section of hair.
7. Repeat the steps above. Add hair to the right-most section of hair from the right side of the braid (adding green hair to the purple hair).
8. Cross right-most section of hair over the middle section of hair.
7. Add hair to the left-most section of hair from the left side of the braid.
8. Cross the left-most section of hair (with the added hair) over the middle section.
9. Add hair to the right-most section of hair.
10. Continue by crossing the hair over the middle section of hair.
As you can see, the key is always to add hair to the either the right-most side or the left-most side, depending on which side is next to be passed over the center hair. The other key is that the braiding is done over the center section of hair and not under.
Some recommended tips for practicing.
1. If you are using a practice board, it's probably easiest to replicate these steps exactly, laying each section down while practicing it until you get the hang of when to add hair, and to which section you should be adding it.
2. The next step would be to practice doing all of the above steps while holding all three sections of the hair in your hand (never setting any strands down).
3. Then you will want to practice your tension, pulling the strands away from each other to get an increasingly tighter braid. The Example above is very loose, and for straight, fine hair a loose French braid is just fine. But if you're trying to keep the fuzzies away on tightly coiled hair it is best to French braid as tightly as possible without stressing the scalp.
4. As you practice, you will notice that you will need to pick up either larger chunks of hair, or smaller chunks of hair, depending on how thick your child's hair is and what look you are going for.
With practice, French braids will come as easily to you as regular braids. You will find what works best for you. Everyone has their own method of doing things. I purposefully didn't photograph my hands because I have a certain technique that works for me that may or may not work for you. Hold the hair in your hands in whatever way makes you most comfortable. Because the more comfortable you are while learning, the more quickly you'll get the hang of it.
Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for posts on How to Dutch braid and How to Cornrow.