Toy Dolls

How to Condition a Doll's Hair

A few items are all you need to condition doll hair.
A few items are all you need to condition doll hair.

Gather your conditioning supplies. Select a basic moisturizing conditioner or buy a doll hair conditioner from a doll specialty shop. If you use a conditioner designed for people, pick one for dry, damaged hair for maximum conditioning. Choose metal combs and brushes made for doll hair or wigs.

Here is a doll with hair that needs conditioning.
Here is a doll with hair that needs conditioning.

Gently detangle the doll's clean, dry hair with a metal doll comb to remove snarls, starting at the ends and working your way up to the head. After removing the large tangles, run a metal doll brush through the doll's hair to complete the detangling process.

This doll is wearing a cape.
This doll is wearing a cape.

Remove the doll's clothing and wrap a hand towel or plastic doll cape around the doll's body. The towel or cape will protect the doll's body from the water and conditioner. Plastic wrap can also work in place of a towel or cape.

Wet the doll's hair under the faucet with lukewarm water, holding the doll face up to prevent water from water from running into the doll's eyes. Water might rust most blinking or fixed eye types. It can also lighten painted eyes.

Divide the doll's hair into 4 sections and apply conditioner to each section. Comb the conditioner through each section to distribute it evenly. Let the conditioner sit on the hair for 20 minutes.

Rinse the conditioner out of the doll's hair with lukewarm water. Loosely wrap a towel around the doll's hair, leaving the hair hanging down. Do not pile the doll's hair on top of her head. Gently press out excess water with the palms of your hands.

Stand the doll up and let the doll's hair dry overnight. A doll stand will make it easier to keep the doll upright. Air dry the doll's hair loose for straight hair styles. You can also dry the doll's hair in a braid or rollers for waves or curls.

This doll has soft and shiny hair after conditioning.
This doll has soft and shiny hair after conditioning.

Comb the dry doll hair smooth. Pour a drop of baby oil in your palms and rub your hands together. Smooth the baby oil into the doll's hair. Brush the doll's hair to distribute the baby oil thoroughly. Style the doll's hair as desired. The doll's hair should be soft and shiny.

Leave-in conditioner will help maintain doll hair.
Leave-in conditioner will help maintain doll hair.

Wet the doll's hair with water in a spray bottle whenever it gets frizzy and comb it. The doll hair will dry smooth. If the hair still appears frizzy or dull, add a little spray leave-in conditioner.

Things You Will Need

  • Metal doll brush
  • Metal doll comb
  • Basic conditioner
  • Baby oil
  • Spray leave-in conditioner
  • Spray bottle
  • Three hand towels
  • Plastic doll cape (optional)
  • Doll stand (optional)

Tip

Apply spray leave-in conditioner to the doll's hair periodically to keep the hair moisturized.

Add a dab of conditioner to the doll's dry hair and then braid it for a quick conditioning treatment. Keep the doll's hair braided whenever possible during play time to minimize tangles.

Smooth on a small amount of gel to add extra shine.

Substitute plant oil, such a jojoba or coconut for baby oil, if you prefer natural products.

Warning

Do not use heat--such as a blow dryer or flat iron--on doll hair after a conditioning treatment. Since most dolls have hair made of a type of plastic, heat can melt or damage the hair.

Only use metal brushes and combs on a doll's hair during conditioning treatments and for general upkeep. Plastic brushes and combs can shred doll hair.

How to String Porcelain Dolls

Insert the plastic disc of the EZ link into the holes in the joints of the arms, legs and head. The EZ links are S hooks attached to flexible plastic discs. They look like a suction cup with a hook on one side. They are available from doll and craft shops. Fold each disc to fit it into the hole in the porcelain piece. The hook remains outside the joint. Use caution so that you don't chip the edge of the hole.

Measure a piece of elastic string three times the width of the doll body. Cut the string with scissors. Fold the string in half and insert the loop into the neck opening of the doll.

Push the loop through the left armhole of the doll and hook the EZ link of the left arm onto the loop of elastic string. Gently pull the string to hold the arm in place.

Clip the loop of string holding the left arm with the point of the hemostat to hold the left arm in place. Create a second loop with the rest of the string and push it through the right armhole of the doll. Hook the EZ link of the right arm onto the loop. Pull the string to tighten the right arm.

Hold both ends of the string and remove the hemostat. Pull the elastic string tightly so that both arms are in place. Tie the ends of the string together three times and release the knot into the doll's body. This releases a little tension on the arms. Check to make sure they are still secure and not too loose. If they are too loose, pull the knot out of the body and retie.

Cut a piece of elastic string five times the length of your doll body. This is longer than you'll need, but you want some room to work with the string.

Fold the string in half twice so that the string is in quarters. Insert the string folded through the wooden bead so that two loops lie at the bottom of the bead, while one loop and the two ends lie at the top. Push the bead into the body of the doll.

Insert a pencil through the single loop at the top of the bead. Lay the pencil across the neck opening of the doll to prevent the loop from falling inside the doll. Hold the ends from the neck hole as well. If necessary, tie them together around the pencil with a simple knot.

Pull one of the two loops down through the left leg hole with a crochet hook. Hook the EZ link of the left leg onto the loop. Repeat with the right leg.

Pull the ends of the string tightly to take up the slack. Tie the ends of the string together over the pencil to prevent the ends from snapping into the body of the doll.

Hook the EZ link of the head through the strings held by the pencil. Remove the pencil and settle the head in its place.

Tip

After tying the strings, you can cut the excess elastic string with scissors or you can simply push the string inside the body of the doll.

Warning

Don't pull the elastic string so tightly that you put pressure on the porcelain body. Never allow porcelain limbs to snap back into place. This will chip the porcelain.

Woody Doll Instructions

Turn the Woody doll on to "Play Mode." Turn him around, unhook his shirt in the back, and click the switch to "Play Mode."

Pull the string in his back to hear him say phrases from the movie, such as “You’re my favorite deputy.” Talking Woody dolls come with dozens of phrases.

Remove Woody’s hat to hear him say phrases like “Whoa! I think the wind just took my hat.” Replace the hat to hear him say phrases like “Well hey howdy hey, I got my hat back!” This feature is only available in the "Toy Story 3" Play-Time Sheriff Woody Doll, and similar models.

Take advantage of the rag doll articulation. Move Woody around by bending his flexible limbs, rotating his swivel hands and his head.

Turn Woody’s switch to "Off" to save battery power and stop him from talking when the string is pulled or the hat is removed. Keep him in his original package or a doll-stand while not in use to preserve his quality.

Warning

Do not give a doll with removable parts to children under five years of age.

Directions to Make Soft Sculpture Dolls

Materials and Tools

Soft sculpture dolls are made of soft, stretchy fabrics. Lightweight jersey, cotton-spandex blends and swimwear lining are all suitable. Cotton or polyester velour, stretchy wool jersey and other knits may also be appropriate. You will need stuffing, most commonly polyester fiberfill, but cotton or wool stuffing will work well, especially with heavier fabrics. The other specialised items you need for soft sculpture doll making are long doll-making needles, typically 4 inches to 6 inches in length, and heavyweight, skin-toned quilting or upholstery thread. You should also have a sewing machine and flesh-toned thread, scissors, pens and a fading fabric marking pen.

Getting Started

The basic construction of a soft sculpture doll is often quite simple. Details are sculpted into the body, so it is often cut in very few pieces. A baby doll may even be made with nothing but a simple tube of fabric. The typical soft sculpture doll consists of only two pattern pieces. The body piece includes arms and legs, then the head is cut out separately. Pin two layers of fabric together, then trace your pattern piece onto the fabric. Sew along the traced lines, leaving a small opening to turn. Once sewn, cut away the excess fabric. Repeat this process for the head. Stuff the doll, using a chopstick or knitting needle to push stuffing into the arms and legs. Firmly stuff the head, then stitch the head onto the neck by hand.

Soft Sculpting the Body

Thread a long doll-making needle with quilting thread. Decide where you want to sculpt the doll's body. Knees, ankles, toes, elbows, hands, fingers and even the doll's bottom are all common choices. Stitch through the hand and foot to create shaping for the toes and fingers. Depending upon the size of the doll, you may use a single large stitch for each finger and toe or several small ones. Add stitches at the knee and elbow to create dimpling. If you wish to create a sculpted backside for your doll, stitch from the back of the doll to the front, making a stitch to create the doll's navel. Come back through to the back and stitch from the doll's lower back to the crotch to form the buttocks.

Soft Sculpted Faces

Begin sculpting the face. You will want to create definition for the eyes, nose and mouth, as well as dimples if desired. Pull the thread through from the back of the head, anchoring it with a sturdy knot. Shape the lower half of the eye with a single long stitch or several shorter ones. Form the nose by taking several vertical stitches on each side of the bridge of the nose, catching both fabric and stuffing between the stitches. Two tiny horizontal stitches can shape the nostrils. Make long stitches to form the mouth.

Finishing the Doll

Use acrylic paints to paint your doll's eyes and mouth. Blush from the cosmetic aisle at your local drugstore can tint your soft sculpture doll's cheeks. Add purchased doll hair or a handmade yarn wig. Dress your doll in handmade or purchased clothing.

How to Clean a Vintage Hard Plastic Doll

Hold onto the roots of the doll's hair and pull the brush through it, starting at the bottom and working your way to the top, gently untangling as you go.

Wash the doll's hair in lukewarm water and baby shampoo, if the hair is dull or dusty.

Gently squeeze the water out of the doll's hair with a towel.

Let the hair air-dry.

Gently comb the hair with the metal wig brush or pet brush.

Dip a soft cloth in warm, soapy water. Wring it out until it is just damp and rub the plastic.

Use a damp, soft toothbrush to scrub the doll, especially in places the cloth could not reach effectively, such as the fingers and toes.

Use a cotton swab or cotton ball moistened with gentle cleaner to clean the doll's eyes and eyelids.

Dip a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and use it to rub out any stains, such as ink.

Let the doll dry completely before putting clothes back on.

Warning

Do not use abrasive cleaners or those containing bleach to clean a doll.

How to Make a Doll Stand

None

Create a round wooden base. The diameter will depend on the height of the doll. A 12-inch doll might need a doll stand with a 4 1/2-inch diameter base. Circular pieces of wood can be purchased at the craft store or cut in the workshop from thin pieces of wood. Sand the base, and stain or paint it as desired. Allow to dry.

None

Choose a piece of thin dowel that is shorter than the doll. It should be slightly longer than the distance from the doll's feet to waist. Drill a hole at one end of the dowel. This will be used later to insert wire, to hold the doll in place. Sand the dowel, and stain or paint as desired. Allow to dry.

None

Drill a hole along one edge of the wooden circle. Do not go too close to the edge--it is a balancing act. You do not want the doll to topple over in the stand.

None

Apply a bit of white glue in the hole. Insert the end of the dowel (without the hole) into the hole in the circle. When the doll is on the stand, the top of the dowel should be between the waist and under the arms. Adjust the dowel in the hole accordingly, and allow to dry.

None

Insert a piece of wire in the hole at the top of the dowel. The wire should be long enough to wrap around the doll, and hold the doll in place while on the stand.

How to Make Mohair OOAK Doll Wigs

Remove all of the doll's hair. Use scissors or pliers to remove any rooted hair so the head is completely clean.

Cut a piece of cling film and carefully wrap the doll's head. Check that the cling film is smooth against the doll's scalp and without wrinkles. Secure the cling film firmly around the neck of the doll with a rubber band.

Cut a piece of cotton cloth large enough to cover the entire doll's head. Hold the cotton cloth in place with a second elastic band. Check that the cotton cloth is smooth and without wrinkles.

Mark the outline of the wig cap with a fabric marker. Find the doll's hairline with your finger and trace along the edge.

Paint the craft glue on the wig cap using a small artist's flat brush. Apply several thick coats and allow to dry thoroughly.

Remove the wig cap once it is dry and hardened. Cut the wig cap free from the rest of the cotton cloth with a pair of sharp scissors. Discard the rest of the fabric but leave the cling film in place on the doll.

Check that the wig cap sits tightly against the doll's head. Make several stitches in the back of the wig cap near the neck of the wig cap to tighten it and help it fit snugly against the doll's head.

Place the wig cap back on the doll's head using a straight pin to hold it in place while you are creating the wig.

Cut strips of mohair pelt. Gluing them to the back of the bottom of the wig cap. Add thin layers of mohair pelt across the back of the wig cap so that the hair is layered. Continue until the back, sides and front of the wig are covered.

Add individual pieces of hair at the top of the wig to give it a realistic appearance. Cut individual strands of hair and glue in to the top by the "root". Have the hair fall naturally to the back or side if there is a part. Allow the wig to dry thoroughly before attempting to style it.

Remove the wig from the doll's head to add individual hairs around the edge of the wig that frames the face. Allow to dry.

Trim and style the hair as desired using small rollers, a warm curling iron and a light cover of hairspray.

Tip

Use craft glue to hold the finished wig in place on the doll's head or, if you would like to make changeable wigs for your doll, use several straight pins to hold the wigs to the doll's head. Using this method to make wigs allows you to experiment with long and short wigs as well as fantasy colours and looks. Mohair takes spray hair colour very well. Check with your local hair salon supply stores for colour sprays and pens. If you cut the fringe too short or trim a little too much from the back, glue in a new piece of mohair, allow to dry and style the wig again.

Warning

When making the wig cap be sure to leave openings for the ears.

How to Draw a Cloth Doll Face

Draw the doll's face before you sew the doll together. Ensure that the face is symmetrical by folding the fabric in half lengthwise and drawing a light line with tailor's chalk.

Use horizontal lines to make sure the features are placed proportionately. Use the tailor's chalk to draw a horizontal line across the face where the eyes should be. The website "Portrait Artist" informs us that "the eye-line is right in the middle---between the top of the head and the bottom of the chin." Fold the face in half horizontally to find the exact placement of this line.

Fold the face in half horizontally again---fold only the section between the eye line and the chin line. This new fold will show you where the bottom of the nose should be. Fold the fabric yet again using your new nose line, and you will find the approximate location of the bottom of the mouth.

Use the tailor's pencil to sketch in the doll's eyes. Draw a vertical line from the pupils of the eyes to the mouth area. This is where the mouth should end if you want to give your doll a realistically proportioned face. Draw the nose and the mouth. If you are embroidering the doll's face, keep the lines simple.

Embroider the doll's face or proceed to sew the doll together. If you plan to paint the doll's face after it is sewn, re-evaluate your drawing after you have put it together---especially if you are doing any facial sculpting. Make adjustments as needed.

Use an oil-based brown pencil to outline the doll's features, as recommended by doll artist Susan Kramer. She also recommends oil-based chalk to give colour to the doll's cheeks. Use acrylic paint to colour other features.

How to Make a Doll Face

Sew two same coloured buttons about an inch apart just below the toe of the nylon. Sew one light brown button between and below the two eyes if you want a the nose on your doll.

Stuff a knee high skin coloured nylon with two hands worth of cotton batting. Stuff the cotton to the toe of the nylon where the eyes and nose of your doll face are. Tie a knot below the cotton so that the cotton stays in the toe.

Cut yarn into several 12-inch strips. Thread a needle with brown thread. Hold the middle of two pieces of yarn and place them on the toe of the stuffed nylon. Center the yarn so that the middle of the yarn, which creates the beginning of the hairline is lined up with the nose, between the eyes. Once centred, sew on the two pieces of the yarn with four tight stitches. Line up to more pieces of yarn behind the first two pieces and sew them with four tight stitches in the middle. Keep adding hair until you reach the desired thickness of hair for your doll head. Once you have reached the desired thickness for your doll's hair, cut all the yarn that is hanging down so that it is even.

With a red permanent marker, draw a smile below the nose. Draw circles with a pink permanent marker on the cheeks of your doll face.

Paint a styrofoam craft ball with skin coloured acrylic paint. Let the paint dry.

Paste loopy chenille stems with a hot glue gun onto the top of a styrofoam craft ball as doll hair. This is done by cutting the chenille stems to the desired length and pasting them so that they touching at the top of the "head", but hang down opposite sides of the styrofoam craft ball. Then paste another two behind the first two, and another two behind the second two until the top and back of the doll head is covered with hair and a part in the hair down the middle where they were glued together. Only the top point of the loopy chenille stem needs to be glued; the rest can hang down from the styrofoam ball on either side of the face. Cut the chenille hair so that it is evenly hanging down as doll hair.

Paste two googly eyes below the hairline as eyes with a hot glue gun. Cut felt the shape of lips and paste the lips below the eyes. Draw pink circles for the dolls cheeks with a permanent pink marker on either side of the doll's face below the eyes.

How to make a rag doll

Draw the doll shape onto a piece of Kraft paper or any medium-weight paper. The pattern is drawn in one piece and should somewhat resemble the cookie cutter outline of a gingerbread man.

Keep both sides of the doll symmetrical by folding the pattern paper in half lengthwise. The fold will be the center of the doll pattern. Draw one half of the doll onto the paper.

Keep the paper folded and erase or redraw any lines as needed. Add ½ inch all around the doll's outline for a seam allowance.

Cut along the seam allowance line and unfold the paper.

Lay the pattern onto the doll fabric and pin it into place. Cut around the pattern. Repeat so that you have two identical fabric bodies.

Use fabric paint to paint in the features of the doll's face and hands or even the hair. You can also sew buttons onto the doll's face for eyes and use glued or sewn-on felt scraps to create the mouth, nose, cheeks and eyebrows. Embroidering features onto the doll's face and hands is also an option.

Pin the two fabric pieces, right sides together. Make sure that all of the edges line up evenly.

Sew the pieces together, ½ inch from the edges. Leave a 2 to 3-inch section unsewn where the doll's legs meet. Turn the doll right side out.

Stuff polyester fiberfill through the gap in the seam. Use the eraser end of a pencil to push the stuffing through to the head, hands and feet. Add as much stuffing as desired.

Hand-stitch the gap in the seam closed.

Add hair to the doll by gluing purchased doll hair to the top of the doll's head. Make pigtails or ponytails and tie them off with pieces of ribbon or yarn.

Tip

Use unbleached muslin for the body of the doll. Lightweight cotton fabric in any shades of brown can also be used to give your doll a darker skin tone. Use a pencil to draw the doll pattern. The lines can be erased and redrawn as needed. Make sure that all paint and glue have dried thoroughly before you sew the doll. See 'eHow to Design a Simple Cloth Doll' for instructions on making and attaching yarn hair to a doll.

How to Design Doll Clothing Patterns

Measure your doll using a measuring tape. Take measurements of the doll's overall height, and measure the length of its torso, arm, legs and feet. Then measure the circumference of its neck, arms, chest, waist, hips, legs and feet.

Write your measurements down on a piece of paper for later reference. It helps to create a little chart for yourself, so that you can fill in the blanks with the numbers as you measure.

Use the measurements to draw a template of each body part. Your template should match the overall height, length and circumferences of your body parts.

Cut your drawing out and trace your template on a piece of cardboard. Now you have stiff template patterns that you can use to create your doll clothes designs.

Label your cardboard pattern template pieces with the name of the doll and the body part. Store your pieces together in a clearly labeled envelope or folder.

Things You Will Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Cardboard

Tip

Take your template for a test drive before you use it on expensive fabrics. Use an old piece of fabric and cut out a simple doll clothes design using your template patterns. Baste the clothes together roughly and try them on the doll to assess how accurate your template is. You can find free doll clothes patterns to use with your own templates and designs online.

How to clean a bisque doll

Put on rubber gloves. If you touch a bisque doll with your bare hands, oils from your skin could damage the finish.

Lay the bisque doll on a layer of thick towels on a flat surface. This will cushion the doll's delicate body and help keep it from falling.

Apply some gentle cleanser, or dish soap mixed into a little warm water, to a paper towel or cloth and gently wipe the bisque surfaces. Wipe the doll dry with a soft cloth.

Clean small areas, like facial features, by applying cleanser to a cotton swab and gently wiping the doll. Dry the doll with the soft cloth.

Spray a bit of glass cleaner on a cotton swab. Many antique bisque dolls have glass eyes, and if this is the case, they can be cleaned by gently swabbing them with the glass cleaner. Take care not to dislodge the eyes.

Keep your doll clean by dusting it carefully every few weeks with a small, soft brush.

Remove the clothing, if you have not already done so. Keep your gloves on, as the oils from your skin could also damage delicate fabrics.

Dissolve some mild laundry powder in warm water in the sink or a small tub. Gently handwash the bisque doll's clothing, letting it soak for up to 30 minutes.

Rinse the clothing thoroughly in cool water and repeat the process if needed.

Hang up the clothing to air-dry. Putting the clothing in a dryer could tear the fabric.

Tip

If the clothing is yellowed but in good shape, adding a little bleach and baking soda to the wash water can help whiten it. Some doll professionals advocate using dry-cleaning solution or other methods to clean your bisque doll's wig. However, cleaning methods depend on the material from which the hair is made. Consult a professional before cleaning your doll's wig. To help keep your bisque dolls clean and in good condition, display them in a glass-front cabinet or case.

Warning

Be careful with especially delicate fabrics, such as satin or velvet. You may want to consult a professional before attempting to launder clothing made from these fabrics. Never lay your bisque doll on newsprint while cleaning. The print could rub off onto the bisque surface. If your doll has a bisque head but a body of cloth or leather, be sure to protect the body by wrapping it in plastic before cleaning the head.

How to Make Wigs for Dolls

Decide on the hairstyle for your doll. You can make long braided doll wigs, long ponytailed or pigtailed doll wigs and short, loose doll wigs. Long loose hair is more challenging and may work best stitched into the doll's head strand by strand.

Cut a piece of cardboard the desired total length of your hair strands. Wrap yarn around the cardboard repeatedly, keeping it flat against the template. Continue wrapping until your doll wig is the desired width. Allow an extra 2 to 3 inches for trimming as needed.

Apply clear tape to both sides of the yarn along your desired part line. Using a neat, small back stitch sew along the centre of your tape. You may also use a sewing machine for this step if you prefer, being sure to secure your stitching at each end.

Lay your doll wig into place on the doll's head. Using a needle and thread, sew into place along the part line. A curved needle made for doll making and upholstery can make this easier. Place your part in the centre or on the side for pigtails or braids. A short loose style requires two wigs. The first has a short front section and a longer back one and is sewn on horizontally to create fringe. A second wig is sewn onto the head vertically to form the back and sides of the hair.

Trim and style your doll wig. Use a needle and thread to secure the hairstyle into place. Once the hair is styled, carefully stitch the hair down to the head in a few places to hold the style on the head as desired. This will also prevent the doll's scalp from showing through.

Tip

Make a single ponytail by creating two horizontal wigs, one with fringe. Sew along the hairline and make a ponytail. Make short sewn strips to create a spiky boy doll wig. Tightly braid and wet yarn or knit and unravel yarn to create curly or wavy doll hair.

Warning

Be certain to secure hair well, especially if the doll will be played with. Braids are the most secure hairstyle option.

How to Make Soft Sculptured Stuffed Nylons Dolls

Start with the doll's head. Wrap polyester filling around a foam ball. Slip a piece of nylon stocking over the head. Use hand stitching to close the area on the forehead and under the chin. Features are created by stitching through the nylon into the polyester filling to make the bridge along the nose and nostrils and the shape of the eyes and mouth. The process is similar to an artist moulding clay, yet in this case it is the pull of thread doing the moulding.

Colour the features, such as the eyes and mouth, with fabric paint when the stitching is completed. Sew on hair or a doll's wig.

Make a body for the doll. Twist 16-gauge wire into a body shape, with arms and legs, at a size proportionate to the doll's head. Wrap 2-inch strips of fleece over the wire to shape and pad the body.

Form hands for the doll, in a similar fashion as the face. Wrap nylon around polyester filling and use the needle and thread to shape and contour fingers.

Dress the doll by sewing on clothing, then sew on the hands and head.