Pretty often my doll hospital patients are sent to me so I can repair just one of multiple issues. In the case of the doll above, I replaced the eyes but did not address anything else beyond cleaning the doll. This doll was found in the street by her new owner. Her eyes were broken and she had road rash. I replaced the doll's eyes and cleaned her. When I took the head off to repair the eyes I removed the stuffing and ran the body through the clothes washer. I cleaned the head and body vinyl with my go-to Young Living Thieves Foaming Hand Soap and a Mr. Clean Eraser. However, while these methods helped, they didn't remove all the tar from the road or scrapes and scars on the vinyl. These things could be repaired, of course. I could sew a new body for the doll. I could fill in the scrapes in the vinyl and sand and re-paint the face and limbs. At that point, however, my customer would be around $100 into the doll in repair costs, far more than the doll is worth. She isn't a sentimental doll really; she didn't belong to the owner or her children. So, what do you do when you have a doll you want to repair without spending a lot of money? Here are some tips.
First of all, think of how you could dress your doll. It may seem obvious but you can camouflage a multitude of damages with clothing, and many people don't think of that. If your doll has a stained body consider pants, long dresses, and tights. Damage to the arms can be hidden under long sleeves. Scraped or scuffed hair paint or a damaged wig disappear under a hat or large hair bow. In this case I used a long sleeved, full-length dress with a wide lace collar to hide the marks on the body and limbs. I made a large tulle headband like a turban to hide the damage to the head. When you see the doll now she looks sweet and well-loved and you don't notice the marks. In the end, this doll's owner decided to go with a different outfit, so this outfit is for sale in my shops. It will fit 12-14 inch baby dolls, such as Bitty Baby.
Maybe you really want a new-looking doll and clothing doesn't hide enough of the damage. Especially if your doll is a beloved toy and still in use, you might need a sturdier body for safety's sake. In that case, consider buying a parts doll. Modern play dolls aren't that expensive for the most part. If your doll has damaged eyes it's often cheaper to buy the same doll, maybe with a damaged body but intact head, and move the new head onto your doll than it is to pay someone to replace the eyes. Likewise, if your doll needs a new body it's often less expensive to find the same doll on eBay or elsewhere online and move the head to a better body. You can often even find your same doll in new condition for less than the sum of several repairs. That's not usually an option for my clients, since the dolls I get are generally very high in sentimental value, but most people don't object to replacing certain parts of their doll. In the case of a baby doll like this moving the head to a new body or replacing the head is a matter of cutting the zip tie in the neck, placing the head in the hole, and threading a new zip tie or drawstring into the casing. It's something almost anyone can manage. You can often find baby dolls like this one for just a few dollars at thrift stores. If you find a doll of the same size and race you can use the body even if it's not the exact same doll.
Of course I am always happy to have a new patient in my hospital, but I wanted you to know you have options beyond paying for lots of repairs. I hope you find these tips useful! I'm having a rough week and I always feel better if I try to help someone else. Focusing on the needs of others truly does distract me from my own problems!
My name is Amanda, but my childhood nickname was "Mandaline". I am a mother of three turning my passion for creating into a full-time business.