Thanks for all the compliments and congratulations - always enjoy the ego boost
. Let's see if I can give decent instructions for how I did it: 1. Starting the half-up.
Start with hair down and detangled. Gather the top half of hair (I started at my ears and went straight up to crown area - ended up with a bit more than half, but doesn't really matter), and secure the bottom half out of the way (I twisted the top half and had it hanging over my forehead, and then used a clip to fasten the bottom section). 2. Finishing the half-up.
Comb/brush the top half straight back (so it lays nicely), and then braid it (starting at the crown) all the way down. Secure the ends (elastic of some sort). If you were ambitious, you could do a french braid (or two, even - ending up in one braid at the center) - or any other sort of half-up that looked good on you, so long as it ended up in a braid - instead of just brushing the hair back. 3. Figuring out where the bottom half should fall when up.
Remove the clip securing the bottom half and comb/brush it so it looks nice. Now you are going to fold it up, and figure out where you want the finished updo to fall (neck, shoulders, etc.). During all this step, the half-up braid is kept out of the way however seems best to you (I just had it over my shoulder). I did this by gathering the bottom half into a ponytail at the nape of my neck, holding it with my left hand. I then slid my right hand down the length (still holding on with the left hand) about a foot or so, let go with my left hand, and lifted up my right hand to where the half-up braid started. See if you like where it falls - if it falls too short, you can replace your right hand with your left, and move the right hand a little farther down the hair, and check again. If it is too long, it is easiest to just start this step over, and have the right hand not go as far down the length. Once you are happy with where it falls.... 4. Braiding the bottom half
Keep your right hand in place, and use your left to have the length fall over your forehead. Use a clip or elastic (I use a clip) to hold the hair at the point the right hand was holding. Then braid the length, starting at the clip. I find it easiest to leave the hair hanging over my forehead, with the clip at eye-level. Secure the ends, remove the clip, and carefully pick up the hair and move it so it is hanging down your back. 5. Putting up the bottom half
Pick up the bottom half braid, and either position it so that the beginning of the braid is just to the top of the half-up braid, with the braid then hanging over your head and down your forehead, or thread the bottom braid through the beginning of the half-up braid from underneath the half-up braid to the top, ending with the beginning of the braid just to the top of the half-up braid (I did the second, as there was a very clear place to do so). Secure into place (I used a thin barrette, which was covered by the braided bun). Let the bottom half braid hang down. 6. Now for the bun.
Start with the half-up braid, and wind it into a flat bun, with no twisting of the braids and as little overlap as possible. This bun will lay over top the hanging braid that you pinned. I started by coiling the braid up from underneath the hanging braid and around the hanging braid on the top (right on top of where it is pinned), and then as I came around to complete the first coil, I went on top of the hanging braid, and did the same for all the other coils. When you reach the end of the braid, coil the tassle underneath the bun to hide it. Now coil what part of the hanging braid is not covered by the bun around the outside of the bun (I got about one complete turn), and hide the tassle in the same way. I didn't have to do any intermediate pinning to hold the bun in place as I did the second braid - it held itself quite well - but that may not hold true for everyone. 7. Pinning the bun.
I just used two hairsticks, and they held it very securely. I put in two parallel sticks, starting on the upper right. With the first stick, I made sure that I caught the outside coil and some scalp hair as I put it in, caught the center of the braided bun on the way through, and caught the outside coil again on the way out. For the second stick, I felt to see what coils felt unstable (if any - for me it was the next to outermost coil), and made sure to catch that as I put the stick in, but otherwise did the same as with the first stick.
And that's that
. No idea how clear this is - I'd be happy to clarify anything that needs clarifying.