I use the following supplies, which are
available in our Doll Shop:
- Stringing cord, approx. 2 yards. I use
our #3 cord.
- Hemostat medical forcepts (clamp). I like
the straight ones in several sizes. Sometimes I
need two at a time, to hold one thing while I
work with another.
- Needlenose pliers and blunt nose pliers
- Hair dryer or pan of boiling hot water
CLICK HERE FOR SUPPLIES
This is the easy part! To unstring the doll's
limbs, pull the arm or leg out so you can see the cord,
and cut the white cord using a good pair of scissors.
Remove the head in the same way.
WAIT! You only need
to remove the parts that require restringing.
If the arms are loose, then you can string the arms by
themselves. If the legs are loose then you need to remove
both arms and both legs.
If you need to tighten up the neck string,
then you will need to remove the arms in order to do the
NOTE: You do not necessarily need
to remove the head in order to tighten the neck cords: we
do have a minor "fix" that might work without
having to cut cords. So read through this entire page
before you do anything... you might save yourself some
unnecessary grief. :)
The doll has plugs, cups and cones inside.
Here is a photo of black Natalie in pieces:
- 1.) shoulder cup
- 2.) lower arm plug
- 3.) large hip cup
- 3b.) small hip cup
- 4.) lower leg plug
- 4b.) different kind of plug
- 5.) head cone
- 6.) neck cone inside the body neck
Make sure to look carefully at the parts as
you remove them so you dont get confused about what
goes where. You may even want to put some of the pieces
in baggies so they dont get separated from one
another. (For example, put all the arm pieces for each
arm in separate baggies until you are ready to string
If the head of the doll is loose, you will
want to try this first. To tighten the head is easier
than removing it and starting over.
Take off the arms. Bend a cable tie in half
and put the end in the connector to hold it but do not
pull tight. Put the folded part of the cable tie in the
armhole and slide the loop underneath the ends of the two
Use the hemostats to pull on the two neck
cords and pull them tight. Then slide the cable tie in
the gap above the crimps on the cord ends. The washers
get in the way but after maneuvering around them you can
get the cable tie around the two cords. Pull the cable
tie tight. One cable tie might be good enough, but it is
better to slide another cable tie ABOVE the first one.
Now the doll's head should be good and tight.
If not, proceed to the next step.
1. Cut the neck cord so the head comes off. Do Not remove the cone
from inside the head. It is very difficult to remove that
cone, so do not try because its not necessary to
2. Remove the old pieces of cord and throw
them away. Use the hemostats as necessary to grab the
pieces and pull them out. In fact, use the hemostats
whenever you need to go "fishing" or need to
grab something or need to pull on something. If you need
to pull HARD on something, then the needle-nose pliers is
better for serious pulling.
3. Use the smaller size hemostats and reach
inside the head to grab the cone shaped piece. Hold it in
place with the wide end of the cone near the neck
4. Cut a
piece of the stringing cord. It should be approximately
10 to 12 inches long. You can attach the head using a
single length of this cord, or a double length. The head
will be much more sturdy if you use a double piece, so I
fold the length of cord in half and tie a piece of string
at the center (in the photo I used red cord.)
5. NOTE: the holes in the narrow end of the
head cone and the neck cone might not be wide enough for
double cord. If this is the case, I push the hemostats
through the hole and twist it around. This does widen the
hole a little bit without damaging the cone.
Push the piece of string through the cone
shaped plug. Grab the cord on the other side using the
hemostats and turn the cone so you can manuever. Use the
string to pull your double cord through the narrow end of
6. Once it's through, cut the cord and tie a
nice big knot. This will hold your #3 cord. (The
cone is inside the head this whole time. The photo
illustration does not show the head, of course.)
7. Turn the cone again so the wide end is
nestled around the neck opening. The two ends of the cord
will be hanging from the neck.
8. Push the stringing cords through the neck
hole on the body. Pull them out through an armhole. Slide
the neck cone in place.
The narrow end of the cone will be down, the
wide end will fit up inside the neck.
Or, you can also use a wood bead inside the
neck, rather than the cone. The wood bead doesn't fit up
inside the neck, as far as the cone does. The lower
placement is VERY helpful when you tie the big ol' knot
At this point, you may need to ADAPT to the
circumstances. Sometimes I add a spacer below the neck
cone, such as a big pony bead. Sometimes I use a 1 inch
wood bead with a big washer underneath it. I use a washer
because the hole in the wood bead is too wide and the
knot will slip through the hold.
I have different options for finishing the
neck... and mostly I want to be sure the head is on good
and snug. You have to pull on the elastic cord very
firmly in order to get it tight enough. I use a pliers to
get a good hold on the elastic cord, otherwise I mangle
my hands from pulling. One time I pulled too hard with
the pliers and broke the cord. That stung!
9. Tie a knot below the neck cone or the wood
10. Trim off the excess cord. In order to save
on cord, I sometimes work with the entire piece (a couple
of yards) and only cut it when I'm finished attaching the
head to the doll body. You can apply glue to the knot, to
help hold it.
STRING THE ARMS
Sometimes you only need to string the
arms, and won't need to do the head or the legs...
1. Remove the arms from the doll.
2. Pull the plugs out of the lower arms using
the hemostats. To do this, trim the cord as close as
possible and push it through the other end of the plug
using a crochet hook or the hemostats or something
similar to push the cord into the hand.
Then turn the plug (inside the arm piece) so
the narrow end comes out first. Sometimes it's very
difficult to turn the plug around. Sometimes a strong
piece of string threaded through the middle helps to turn
it. I use the hemostats to grab the other end of the
string and pull it out. Then, the string helps me to turn
the plug around. (Some arm pieces have more room inside
than others, I think.)
Once the plug is turned around, heat the vinyl
so it's soft enough to pull the plug out. You can dip the
lower arm piece in hot or even boiling water to soften up
the vinyl and this will make it easier to turn the plug
and remove it. Some people use a hair dryer to warm the
vinyl because they don't want to get water inside the
pieces. I wait for the pieces to dry out, it's not a
problem. I use both the hairdryer or hot water depending
on what I'm doing. The boiling water really softens vinyl
the best, IMO.
Then pull the plug out, when the vinyl is soft
from the heat. You will want to grip as much of the
plastic plug as possible with the needlenose pliers, and
hold on tight.
It does require some strength and some pulling
to get the plug out, but its not too bad. After the
plug is removed, pull out the old pieces of cord that are
inside the hand and throw them away. KEEP THE PLUGS! You
need them to put the doll back together with.
3. Cut a piece of 1/8 full cord, approximately
8 or 9 inches long or more depending on how much extra
you want to work with. Tie a knot in one end of 1/8
full cord and thread the cone shaped plug onto the cord
with the narrow end against the knot.
4. HEAT THE VINYL. Then, force the plug back
into the lower arm, with the knot going in first and then
the narrow end of the plug. Sometimes it helps to lean on
a countertop when forcing the plug in. I frequently us a
blunt nose pliers to PUSH the plug into the hole.
Needlenose pliers are great for getting it
OUT, and regular blunt nose pliers are great for pushing
the plugs back IN.
5. Next, thread the upper arm on the cord and
push the cord through the armhole, using the hemostats.
6. Prepare both arms this way, so the cords
are hanging out the shoulder hole.
7. Push the cord from one arm all the way
through the body and out the other side of the body. Now,
tie the cords for both arms together until the arms are
nestled snug as you can make them. I pull firmly on both
cords, several times, to stretch them as much as
8. Tie the knot as best you can, working in
the armhole... pull the cords as snug as you can without
being too snug. Tie a good big knot and trim the cords
fairly short but not so short that the knots might come
undone. Push the ends of the cord inside the doll body.
The arms are done!
& LEGS ~ TOGETHER
To restring the legs, you also need to do
1. Remove the arms and legs.
2. Pull the plugs out of the lower arms and
legs. Pull all the cups and pieces out of the doll body.
The only pieces you want to save are the plugs
from the arms and legs. Save the other pieces in a small
bag, in case you decide you need them someday..... The
dolls were originally strung using all these cups, but
it's too difficult to put the doll back together that
way, and besides: those cups actually restrict the doll's
movement. If we string her back together the TRADITIONAL
way, she'll have better range of motion.
2. Put the plugs back inside the lower arms
Push the cord through the upper arms and legs
(make sure you get the correct parts back together, now!)
Your arms and legs will look something like this (the
photo shows a MAC doll.)
Now... pay attention to this next step. If you
want the doll's limbs to position the way they should,
you need to arrange the cords properly inside the body.
The photo below shows the arrangement, but the body isn't
there. So this is kinda like an "x-ray" photo.
The string from the LEFT arm is
tied to the string from the RIGHT leg. And, the string
from the RIGHT arm is tied to the string from the LEFT
The wood ball spacer in the
middle helps to hold the cords together and also controls
positioning. All the cords go through the big wood bead
in the middle. (You can also use a short piece of small
PVC pipe instead of the wood bead.)
If you don't arrange the cords
like this, the doll's legs can end up in a wide leg
stance, with ankles far apart. This wood bead arrangement
helps to control the leg position so it is more relaxed
and natural in appearance.
I arrange the limbs and cords
loosely until I have all the pieces in place. You really
need the hemostats at this point (long ones!) in order to
grab and push the cords where they need to go inside the
body. The large wood bead is in there too, you just can't
When you have the cords arranged,
then tie them. I pulled the ends through one of the
armholes and tied it as tight as I can. It's possible to
tie it too tight, and then the arms and legs will stick
OUTward too much and look awkward. But you really do want
to put a LOT of tension on the stringing cords so the
limbs will be snug.
Tie one arm & leg together,
then tie the other arm & leg together, making sure
that the cord goes through the wood bead before you tie
Becca is back in one piece!