Restring Vintage Dolls: the Classic Method

This tutorial will show you how to do CLASSIC restringing, where the head, arms and legs of the doll all need to be restrung.

The method shown on this page will work for MANY vintage dolls, including composition and hard plastic dolls. The doll shown in the photos is 14 inches tall, but the method works for dolls of many sizes; 4 inches to 40 inches.

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  • Hemostats or crochet hook
  • Scissors
  • Elastic cord
  • Elmers Household Glue
  • 1 Bead (optional)




  • 1.5mm elastic cord: 4 - 6 inch dolls
  • 2mm elastic cord: 8 to 12 inch dolls
  • 2.5mm elastic cord: 12 to 16 inch dolls
  • 3mm elastic cord: 16 to 18 inch dolls
  • 4mm elastic cord: 18 to 28 inch dolls

If your doll is slender, you can use a smaller size.
If your doll is stocky, you might need a heavier size.
Cord can also be doubled if you need more strength


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This view shows the inside of the head. There may be a BAR of some kind inside the head, or you might find a HOOK hanging down from a bar.

Use a crochet hook or small hemostat to thread your cord over the BAR and out again. Or, if there's a HOOK, then attach your cord to the hook.

Other mechanisms inside the head are for the eyes. Be careful that you don't get the cord wrapped around the eye mechanism.

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So far so good... Next we will push the two ends of the cord into the neck hole on the body. But WAIT -- before you do that...

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First I need to explain the bead. The bead will be inside the body, to hold the two lengths of cord together. Without this, the legs will tend to splay and look awkward. She might not be able to stand.

If you have a plastic or wood bead with a large enough hole, that's a good solution. But if you don't have a large bead, you can use a short length of elastic cord and tie it around the two cords. Don't tie it tight.

Whether you use a bead or a length of elastic cord, the two long cords need to slide easily when we get to the point where we tie things up.
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Thread your cords through the neck of the body and pull them out through the leg holes: one cord coming from each leg hole.

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If you're using a bead, this is the time to slide the bead up into the body of the doll.

Thread your cords through the neck of the body and pull them out through one of the leg holes. The bead needs to slide onto BOTH cords and the bead should not be tight on the cords: it needs to slide fairly easily. If your bead is tight, use the other method.

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Thread your cords through the neck of the body and pull them out through the leg holes: one cord coming from each leg hole.

Attach the cord on the hook of one leg and then thread that same cord through the leg holes to the other side.

Double-check to make sure your right and left legs are on the correct side where they need to be. 

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Attach the other leg by it's hook and tie a single knot in the cords. Now pull tight until the head and legs are all snug and tight against the body. Tie your knot again. I usually tie a double or triple knot. 

It's also a good idea to dab some Elmer's Household glue on the knot. Don't use superglue or model glue: it could damage the cord. Elmer's Household glue is a good strong glue (but don't use School Glue which is useless for real craft work.)

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Trim the excess cord leaving about 1/2 an inch or more. Stuff the ends inside the hip so the cords aren't showing.

Now we're ready to start the arms. Cut a piece of elastic cord and hook one arm on it.

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Thread both ends of the cord through the armhole, through the body and out the other side.

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Hook the second arm on the cord. Then tie a single knot and pull the arms tight until they're snug against the body of the doll. Tie a double or triple knot and dab some Elmers to make sure the knot stays secure.

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All done!