Thursday, March 31, 2016

Fixing Up an American Girl Doll

Hey everybody!  The obsession with AG dolls continues.  In fact, it could be at an all-time high as far as scouting these little beauties out goes.  I'm afraid I've killed my average price per doll lately though.  As much as I look at the local thrift stores hoping to find more dolls, I have only been able to buy them from classifieds.  So in order to balance things out, I have been selling other dolls when I buy new ones.  I'm doing this in an effort to diversify our collection.  It seemed like the majority of our dolls had brown hair and blue eyes.  Case in point are these two dolls:
My youngest got the doll on the right for Christmas and we didn't discover until a few days later that she looks an awful lot like the doll on the left that we already had.  So when I broke the bank and bought Ivy (see below), we decided to fix up the doll on the right (Nicki) to resell.  Here's a pick of our two newest dolls: Ivy and a Just Like You.  See...brown eyes! We're mixing it up a little.
I am no expert at American Girl doll restoration.   In fact, this was my first attempt.  I was a bit nervous to take her apart, but it had to be done.  This doll had a few problems: a stain on her body, lots of marks on her arms and legs, loose legs and a chip out of her eyelid.  Her hair was also pretty dry.  This particular doll comes with curls so I wanted to try and restore them if I could.  Here she is before the makeover:
Yah- I'm pretty sure her previous owner had been playing "potty training" with her.  Unfortunate.

The first step was to untie her neck strings.
Now you can remove the head and pull out all the stuffing.  There is a whole lot of stuffing!
I sprayed the spot on her body with some stain remover.
While that soaked for a couple of minutes, I used a Magic Eraser to clean up her arms and legs.  These things are miracle workers.  With a little elbow grease they will remove all the little scuffs and marks.

I focused my efforts back on the body.  I didn't want to get any water inside the arms or legs because if it doesn't dry all the way it can turn to mold.  So I just dunked her body in a bowl of water and rubbed the fabric with my fingers.
I repeated this process a few different times with a couple of stain products, but unfortunately I could not get it to come all the way out.  I would say it lightened by about 60%.  You can remove the arms and legs and wash the body in the washing machine, but then you have to restring the dolls limbs and I didn't have the equipment for that, so I had to just throw in the towel.  I was really hoping to get it all out but I guess it wasn't meant to be this time.
Next I worked on her head.  Her teeth had some pen marks on them, so I tore off a tiny piece of the Magic Eraser and used a toothpick to rub it back and forth.  Worked great!  I also used the eraser on a few spots around her face, but you have to be careful because it will remove the cheek color and lip color, and maybe even freckles and eyebrows. 
I washed her hair using the bowl of water again and a little bit of shampoo.  You don't want to dunk the whole head because it will get the wig cap wet, which may or may not dry completely, and if you get water in the eye sockets it will cause them or rust.  Not a good thing!
I brushed her hair out using a wire brush.
To fill the little chip in her eyelid, I mixed up some pink, brown, yellow & cream craft paints.  It took me several attempts to get the color just right.
I rolled her hair into pin curls and clipped them in place to dry.
Back to the body.  In order to speed up the drying process, I got out the hair dryer.  You want to make sure it is completely dry.
As I mentioned earlier, her legs were loose.  This happens because the little metal piece that is crimped down on the elastic has slid out of place a bit, or the elastic itself has stretched out of shape.  An easy and inexpensive way to tighten the joints is to use a think hair elastic.  Pull the elastic out as far as you can from the joint.
Wrap the hair elastic around the space in between the metal crimp and the joint.  I read later somewhere that this method can void the warranty on the torso, so if that is a concern for you don't do it.  I was happy to get her legs back nice and tight and plan to do it on a couple of our other dolls.
Now you just have to shove all the stuffing back into her body and reattach the head.  All set!  Here are a few after pics:
That darned stain just wouldn't come out all the way!  But it does look better :)  All the marks on her limbs are gone.
The pin curls only worked so-so.  I'm afraid most of the curl in her hair is gone.  At least it is softer to the touch now.  It looks longer on one side than the other just because that front curl was particularly loose.
Here's a good way to test if your doll's joints are tight.  Hold her up horizontally and see if the arms or legs fall down toward the floor.  Nicki's joints are nice and tight thanks to the hair elastics.
I was able to sell this doll and make some money back towards the Ivy purchase (with full disclosure about the spot on her body of course).  At this point in time my average price per doll is now $18. I'm hoping to sell some of the clothes that came with Ivy to make back a little more.

Thanks for checking in!  If you haven't already, check out my American Girl clothes sewing posts HERE and HERE. And don't worry...There are sure to be more AG posts to come. ;)

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