Monday, June 22, 2015

Zombie Dolls- the fine art of doll restoration

Warning: there are no actual zombies in this post.

There are, however, nude dolls in pieces.

Saturday was my first time experiencing doll restoration, under the extremely friendly guidance of mcooper.

I wanted to document the process to help others. I didn't get as many photos as I should have, and I don't necessarily know all of the technical terms. But here goes!

Here is a picture showing how loose Samantha's legs were. She could only stand upright with a lot of coaxing, and her toes tended to turn inwards, poor thing.

In this next picture, she is begging me to save her from dismemberment. Alas, she pleads in vain.

Here she is with her head removed and the stuffing pulled out.

And here she is with her limbs removed. This is where I should have taken more pictures. I got absorbed in my own learning process.

See those white half circles with holes in the middle, like half ping-pong balls? There are two for each limb.  One goes inside the limb, and the other goes inside the body.

First we cut the original elastic to remove the limb from the body. 

Next we had to use a hairdryer to soften the vinyl.  We pulled the half-circle cup out of the limb.

Then we added new elastic to the half circle cup that goes inside the limb and fastened it on the end of the elastic that went inside the doll limb. You do this by placing a little round piece of metal called a pipe insert and squeezing it to stay in place with a crimping tool
 The old pipe inserts, which were cut off with the old elastic, can be seen in the picture above.

Next you replace that cup inside the limb, along with the elastic running through it and the fastened pipe insert on its outside.

After that, you pull the other end of elastic inside the body and place a half circle cup on the end, and pull it tight, using a clamp to hold the elastic where you want it. I definitely need a clamp. It will help with stringing BJDs as well.

You repeat the steps with the pipe inset and the crimping tool with the elastic on the inside of the body. The elastic should be held in place on both sides, one inside the body and one inside the limb, by the pipe insert.

Once all limbs are back in place, you stuff the body and replace the head by tying the neck strings.

Here is Samantha on the road to recovery. Her limbs have been replaced and she is half stuffed.

She does look a bit zombie-ish here, though, doesn't she?

This is Kaya when I was trying to squeeze the last handful of stuffing back in. I think there ought to be some hilarious caption here, but it is escaping me at the moment.

And at last they were back in one piece, and better than before!

I know this tutorial could be better, but hopefully it helps. Not all of us can listen to the tutorials for restringing that are on Youtube.

If you decide to try restringing your dolls, good luck!


  1. You did really good! I'm proud :)

  2. Thanks for the link to your crimping tool. I had been wondering what sort of tool to buy. My hands are not very strong. Was your tool very hard to use?

    1. I didn't find it too difficult. I don't have anything to compare it to, though.


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