Dolls have a hard life. The ones that are loved and played with sometimes lose a limb. Many antique dolls and some modern dolls are held together with rubber bands or loops of elastic cord. This elastic stretches and breaks with age or exposure to heat. Even display dolls can lose limbs or get too floppy to stand. It is difficult to find a replacement band in the exact size you need, but you can replace the band with a loop of elastic cord.
Shake doll, if you hear a piece of metal rattling around inside, hold the doll with the open hole where the limb is missing pointing down. Shake the doll gently until the loose hook shakes out. It went in through this opening and should shake out easily. When you remove the hook, attach it to the loose limb by hooking it through the loop or hole on the socket of the limb. If the metal only makes a gentle clunking sound, the hook is still on the elastic and you will pull it out in the next step. If you do not hear anything examine the limb. Hopefully, the hook is still attached to it.
Reach into the socket of the missing limb with a large crochet needle and pull out the hook. If there is no hook, pull out a loop of the rubber band inside the body. It is helpful to have a desk lamp shining into the hole to help you see the hook and cord.
Secure the hook to the limb if you have pulled out a hook. If you have pulled out a loop of elastic, hook the limb to it. Gently ease the socket of the limb back into the hole in the body.
Remove the old rubber band. If it is still in one piece and just loose, gently pull a leg out of its socket, cut the band and pull it out. Do this with the doll resting on a soft surface such as a bed, because the arms, legs and possibly the head will all fall off when you pull the band loose.
Tie a piece of cord elastic into a loop the same size as the original loop. The elastic will have stretched, so you will have to estimate the size of this loop. You may have to make several loops before you get it right. Start with a length of elastic twice as long as the doll's body from the neck to the legs.
Hook the head hook onto the elastic and drop the loop down into the body of the doll through the neck hole.
Reach into the arm hole, pull out a loop of elastic and attach the appropriate arm to it. The palm of the doll's hand should face toward the body. Stick the socket into the arm and hold the arm in place while you attach the other arm and one leg in the same way. At this point the elastic should be tight enough to hold the limbs in place. If it is not, tie the knot tighter or make a smaller loop. If you cannot pull the elastic out to attach a limb you need a larger loop of elastic.
Reach into the final leg hole and pull the elastic out just far enough to hook on the final leg. This should be slightly difficult to do. The elastic needs to be tight enough to allow the doll to stand without flopping over.
Elastic for stringing dolls is available from doll supply stores or online. Replacement hooks are available from a doll supply store. Some dolls have two loops of elastic, one for the head and legs and one for the arms. If this is the case, make two loops. Install the arms first and then attach the head and legs.
Do not attempt to restring valuable dolls, you may break the sockets or the body by pulling the elastic too tight. You can lessen this risk by restringing the doll with a loose elastic band and displaying her in a sitting position or even laying down.
Tips and warnings
- Elastic for stringing dolls is available from doll supply stores or online. Replacement hooks are available from a doll supply store.
- Some dolls have two loops of elastic, one for the head and legs and one for the arms. If this is the case, make two loops. Install the arms first and then attach the head and legs.
- Do not attempt to restring valuable dolls, you may break the sockets or the body by pulling the elastic too tight. You can lessen this risk by restringing the doll with a loose elastic band and displaying her in a sitting position or even laying down.
Things you need
- Large crochet hook
- Desk lamp
- Elastic cord for stringing dolls