More Doll Repair Questions – Advanced Restringing | My Life as a Doll Doctor

Some Question for the Doll Doctor

Dear Dr Noreen,

I wonder if you can give me some advise on how I can repair my lovely 1910 Schoenau & Hoffmeister. Unfortunately she got broken during a move.She is not an expensive doll but I love her.Shipping her to you would be prohibitive as I’m based outside the US, so hope you might be able to advise me on how I can fix her myself? I’m a handy person and have done previous restoration work on antique dolls and music boxes.  Kind regards, Ren

Hi Ren,

Sadly…..this is one that can not be repaired with a good outcome! No matter what glue you use……it will certainly show. There damage is so extensive on the face—it can not be hidden. The bisque restorers actually had kilns and could re-make and re-fire the head. Your best bet would be to look for a replacement head on EBay.

Hi Doctor Noreen,

I enjoy your articles very much and hope you can help me.  I collect all of Robert’s 10 inch vinyl and hard plastic child dolls including Ann Estelle, Linda McCall, the Petite Filles and now the beautiful Patsy.  I have frequently restrung the early dolls (arms and legs) when the elastic loosened and just the arms when the bendy knees were added in 2006, but I don’t know what to do with the most recent ten inch girls with loose arms.  The elastic is not strung through an eye hook, it simply disappears into the arm.

My Christmas Morning Patsy has loose arms and cannot hold them in a pose.  How do I fix her and others?

Thanks, Andria

Hi Andria,

Not to worry as this type of construction can still be re-strung. As you know ..those new bendy knee hard plastic bodies have the neck button and rotational plastic legs… the only maintenance would be the arms. Inside that arm the elastic is knotted through a plastic disc or ball and that is easily inserted when the vinyl is warm. I know what you are thinking……it would be so much easier to have those lovely hooks like Betsy!! Again… is what you can do if you prefer the hooks. Carefully cut the elastic and remove the arms. Place them in a heating pad or one of the bean bag neck warmer thingy’s for about 10 or 15 minutes until soft. Then….with a needle nose pliers or hemostats–pull out the elastic and plastic disc. When the vinyl is warm enough—this will be easy! There is a wonderful doll repair item sold in many doll part stores. It is called a Screwgle. It has a spiral metal area that is twisted into the opening of arm–with a hook at the end. Yes–a stringing hook!! Do this on both arms and you will be able to loop the elastic through each hook and body and string like any other doll. Now…..there is another item on the market that looks like a plastic crescent shape with a hook attached. This just needs to be pushed into the arm hole vertically–and when you grasp the hook–the crescent shape turns horizontally so hook can not come out.

I will show pictures of both types of limb connectors.   

Now….let’s just say you want the arms tighter–but prefer the no hook method that is there. You will need hemostats for this job. Again…warm up those arms and remove plastic disc from arms. You will need to put new elastic in and make a tight knot. You must make certain when you fish the one end through the doll that you can pull very tight and clamp at the opening in torso. You will now take that end of elastic and put it through the plastic disc…and again tie a tight knot. This end should only have a tiny bit of stretch left as the hemostats should be holding the elastic as tightly as possible. You will then take your needle nose pliers and push the plastic disc or ball into the free arm. let it cool for a minute—then release the hemostats. The arms will be tight once again!

(One VERY important thing to remember is—always remove arms completely to warm up. If you make the mistake of warming up any of the hard plastic parts like torso and legs—severe damage including warping and melting can occur)

To: Noreen

Have a 55 year old doll that I have had as a child. I am restoring, cleaning

and her eyes are set individual. One is loose and her lashes came away from
the eye. I have the lashes on the, looks like a type of paper they are on, and
her eye actually fits into a metal socket that is enclosed with pliable
rubber. I am wanting to take her eye out to replace the lashes and set her
eye back in place but the eye hole isn’t big enough to get the eye out of the
metal socket thru the eye hole. Can you give me some tips to remove the
eyeball out. Also, I have a couple of dolls that need to be restrung. They
originally have like rubber bands but I need to measure what size of rubber
bands, one is a bit less than an inch for her legs. She is a walking doll.
Her leg joints are metal so you may know what I am talking about
Any help will be appreciated as to where to get the rubber bands or to restring and how to get the eye hole more pliable to remove the eyeball.

Hi Rose,

I am guessing this is a vinyl doll as you state she is 55 years old. These sleep eyes are set individually into those eye pockets when the vinyl is very warm and pliable. Since they are sleep eyes and encased in that plastic housing… may be impossible to attempt to push them through the front. Try to do this only after you fully warm up the eye area with a heating pad or microwave bean bag. If the housing is still too large to safely go through front without damage… you may have to remove the head. Using an exacto knife…put a slit into the vinyl eye pocket inside the head. You should then be able to push the eye through to the inside and retrieve it for repairs. When you are ready to re-insert….you must work the eye back through from inside the head and make certain that vinyl pocket closes back up over the eye. You can then brush on a very small amount of Liquid nails..(putty type) to keep the vinyl eye pocket flaps closed. When cured…..put head back on body!

As far as your re-stringing questions….we do not use rubber bands here—but rather the cloth-coated stringing elastic. We choose the size of cord according to size of doll. Tiny dolls will use the smallest and Patti Play Pal types use the largest. You must loop through the hooks and pull tightly to tie a double knot in the elastic–then trim off ends. Unless the doll is a bent-limb baby…we usually string legs to head first–then separately string arm to arm across body. When stringing a bent limb baby body….one continuous loop through head, arm, leg, arm and back to head!

“Now for the legal stuff… only an experienced doll doctor should attempt any procedures which could possibly damage or destroy your doll. These answers are general recommendations only–and as each case differs…you must attempt at your own risk. Attempting to do dolly operations without a license is not recommended unless you are willing to take such a risk.”

Thanks so much for all the great questions and emails! Next blog I will take you through a restoration step by step…and tell you the heartwarming story of why this doll is so special!  Stay tuned………


You can Ask Dr. Noreen Your Question About Doll Repair or Care

[contact-form subject=”A Question for the Doll Doctor – Tonner Blog” to=””] [contact-field label=”Name” type=”name” required=”true” /] [contact-field label=”Email” type=”email” required=”true” /] [contact-field label=”Your Question” type=”textarea” required=”true” /] [/contact-form]


click to find out more about the Tonner Doll Hospital






4 responses to “More Doll Repair Questions – Advanced Restringing | My Life as a Doll Doctor

  1. I need a string put back on my talking doll. it is a 1970 mattel bean bag doll which the pull tag goes in back of head…please help

  2. Hi Valerie,
    I just love the vintage mattel talkers! It is a specialy area of doll restoration done by a very few. I do know of several who handle only pull string talker repair and one who specializes in Mattel. I have provided a link to her services. As with any doll repair specialist…ask for references and/or photos of her work to make certain it is what you are expecting from the repairs. Good Luck, The Doc

  3. Hi,
    I have a 5.5″ French all bisque mignonette that has to be restrung. She is very old, so what should I use? Where can I buy it?

    1. Hi Prissybee,
      You will need the small scant type elastic for restringing a doll this small. You can usually find supplies online or even in your local craft store. Make sure the elastic is small enough to be threaded through the openings in the pre-formed holes in these little all-bisque dolls.
      Warmest, Noreen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *