How to Replace Doll Heads

By Louise Harding
Doll heads can be replaced at home.
Doll heads can be replaced at home.

Most dolls experience the love of a little girl’s arms. Wear and tear can cause a doll head to sustain damage. Some heads are beyond repair, but the body remains intact. Replacement heads can be purchased, but some doll heads are harder to find. Doll heads can be replaced without the need to pay for expensive services, but if you have an expensive doll, it’s wise to seek professional repair.

Flange Necks - Rubber or Vinyl

Grip the neck in one hand and the body in the other. A flange is a lip around a doll neck that’s placed inside the body, and secured by a difference in size or a device.

Squeeze the flange, placing it into the body hole.

Work the flange inside the body, twisting, and moving it up and down until the entire flange is inside. Tug the neck upward into place.

Flange Necks - Porcelain or Bisque

Cover the doll head and wig with a washcloth to protect it while you work.
Cover the doll head and wig with a washcloth to protect it while you work.

Cover head/hair with a washcloth. Insert the flange into the cloth body. The body will have a casing around the neck hole to feed a plastic tie or wire.

Insert the tie/wire through the casing until the tie/wire emerges from the other side. If using a tie, insert the end into the connector and pull tightly around the flange. Cut excess plastic. If using wire, grip the wire protruding from the casing and twist together until the casing is tight against the flange. Cut excess wire with wire cutters.

Pull the fabric over the plastic/wire to conceal.

Shoulder Heads Glued or Sewn

Place the shoulder head onto the “neck/head” area of the cloth body. Shoulder head is a term for a head made of china, bisque or porcelain that is a head, neck, and shoulders.

Trace around the shoulders with chalk. Place head into position.

Use an all-purpose glue made for gluing fabric to the material of your doll head.
Use an all-purpose glue made for gluing fabric to the material of your doll head.

Lift the head and cover the cloth beneath with an all-purpose glue for gluing fabric to the material of the head. Press head onto the fabric. Allow glue to dry. If sewing, notice four or more holes along the edges of the shoulders. Sew through the holes onto the fabric with a needle and button thread.

Heads with Hooks

Look inside the head. The presence of a wire/hook inside is meant to attach the head to an S-hook and to the string inside the body. If there’s no hook, you need a hook with a wooden bead or button. These hooks are attached to a wooden bead or button that stays inside the head with the hook attached to the body string.

Hook one end of an S-hook onto the head hook. If using a bead/button and hook, remove the doll’s pate (top of head)/wig and insert the bead/button into the head with the hook protruding from the neck.

Head hooks can be inserted through or up into the head depending on head type.
Head hooks can be inserted through or up into the head depending on head type.

Use a button hook to pull up the body string, and with your hand slip the head hook onto the string.

Purchasing Replacement Heads

Note the company, year, and name on the doll. Note the head’s material.

Search online for the company, year, and doll’s name to find replacement services. Antique stores may have doll parts.

You need to know the doll's name, approximate date of production and company to purchase a replacement.
You need to know the doll's name, approximate date of production and company to purchase a replacement.

Purchase a head and install onto doll’s body.

Things You Will Need

  • Plastic cable tie or 22-gauge wire (1.25 mm)
  • Wire cutters
  • Scissors
  • Washcloth
  • Chalk
  • All-purpose glue
  • Needle
  • Button thread
  • Button hook
  • S-hook or neck hook and ball/button
  • Computer with Internet access

About the Author

Louise Harding holds a B.A. in English language arts and is a licensed teacher. Harding is a professional fiction writer. She is mother to four children, two adopted internationally, and has had small businesses involving sewing and crafting for children and the home. Harding's frugal domestic skills help readers save money around the home.