Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Cissette Restrung; Doll Stringing Tutorial


Cissette unstrung

I get so many questions about re-stringing dolls I decided from now on whenever I string a different type of doll I will show photos and write a tutorial. This goes along with re-stringing kits you can buy from my eBay and Etsy stores. My last tutorial showed one method for stringing a Wendy-kins 8 inch doll. This post will show an alternate method as well as show instructions for stringing walker dolls. Besides elastic and hooks, which you can purchase from me, you find other tools, such as tweezers, pliers, small scissors, and a hemostat handy. You will also want to repair any splits with epoxy prior to stringing. Some dolls, such as Tiny Betsy McCall and Muffie Walker have strung arms but not legs. If their legs are broken you will need to repair them with epoxy. My posts show those repairs here.


Helpful tools to have on hand
Now, vintage Cissette is considered a "walker" doll, although she's not the head-turning walker people usually think of. Instead of her head being affixed to a pole inside her body, hers is strung to the pole. So the best these ever do in terms of "walking" is to bob their heads a little when you move the legs. The stringing method I will show you is the same for either type of walker, however.


Start with the arms.
Begin your stringing by making sure there is a hook attached to the arm. If the original is lost you can buy a replacement or make one from wire that is bendable but which holds its shape when stressed. You will make the hook into the shape of an S. Thread a piece of elastic through the hook and pull it through the doll's body, going behind the interior pole, to the other side and pull both ends out the arm hole on the other side.


Pull the elastic through the other arm hole.

Now thread the other arm hook onto the elastic and pull the elastic as tight as you can get it. Knot the elastic and move the knot to the center of the body so it's not on the hooks if possible.



Add the other arm to the elastic.

Now you're going to do the exact same thing to the doll's hips, except you will thread the cord through the walker mechanism, which is shown below.


A hip walker mechanism

When you pull the elastic through the hips you need to draw it through the center of the walker mechanism and the body and then the walker mechanism on the other side.


Bring the elastic through the walker mechanism.

Once the elastic is through the body and both walker circles, hook the second leg hook and pull as tight as you can again. It's really challenging to get these tiny pieces of elastic tight enough to work, so pull hard. Then tie off the cord just like you did with the arms.


Add the second leg hook and tie off.
A traditional walker doll's head will be attached to the body pole at the top, so you won't have to worry about it unless it's come off. If it has you might see a hole in the top of the head. Those types of dolls have metal prongs at the top of the walker pole which go up through the holes in the head and fold over one another so it looks like a metal staple. On that type of doll you would have to remove the wig to affix the head. It's rare for that type of head to come loose, however. It's far more common for this type of doll, whose head is strung to the walker, to come loose. To string it you draw the elastic over the head bar inside the head, making sure to avoid the eye mechanism, and then string it to the body hook as shown below.


String the head as shown.
When you've finished your stringing, pose your doll a couple different ways to make sure the strings are tight enough. This one was good, so I cleaned her up and styled her hair and she turned out well. She's for sale in my Atelier Mandaline stores as well.


The restrung doll
The doll after restoration.

The second type of doll I'm stringing today is the simplest type. This kind of doll is strung in a loop, with the head, arms, and legs all attached to the same piece of elastic. This generally works better for dolls 10 inches or larger. I am demonstrating on an 8 inch doll, but please keep in mind I prefer to string these small dolls using the method shown in my Wendy Restrung post because it allows for more movement of the arms. In this case I am stringing my model doll whose hands were colored on with blue marker. I can't really resell her, so I just use her to display clothing and she doesn't need to pose all that well.


The unstrung doll

To begin this type of stringing, start by threading the cord through the head hook. It is the longest hook.


Thread the head hook.
Then affix the hook to the bar inside the head, again avoiding the eyes.


Hook the head bar.

Now draw the elastic through the neck into the body cavity.


Draw through the body.

Hook one arm hook to the cord and then draw the same side of the cord down to the leg hole. Repeat on the other side.


Hook the arms.


Bring the cord through the leg holes as shown.


The arms are hooked.
Now hook one leg to the cord and then draw that same piece of cord through the body and hook the other leg to that cord.


Hook one leg and then hook the other to the same cord.

Once both legs are hooked, pull the elastic as tight as possible and tie the two ends of the cord together. Move the knot so it's not right on any of the hooks.


Tie off the cord.

Now test your doll again to make sure the stringing is tight and you're all ready to dress her! When you use the elastic cord your doll will last a long time before needing new stringing. Again, please visit Atelier Mandaline on eBay and Etsy for stringing kits and the dolls shown in this post.


The restrung doll
Some dolls will have jointed arms or legs so they will only need to have the other limbs strung to the head. The Jacqueline face 21 inch doll (or the straight arm Cissy) is an example of this. Notice I use thicker cord for larger dolls. I sell kits to restring different sizes of dolls in my shops on Etsy and eBay.

Jacqueline unstrung

Begin by cutting the cord about twice the length of the doll from the neck to the hip. Draw the cord through the head hook and bring it down into the body through the neck.


Hook the head to the elastic.
Hook one leg to the cord and then hook the other leg. Draw the cord tight and knot it.


Hook the legs to the cord.

This particular body type is prone to seam splits in the hips and torso, so I don't string it as tight as other dolls. I make sure the doll can hold a pose but keep it as loose as possible.





Recently I had a question about re-stringing the knees on the type of doll shown above. This method will work on Cissy, Jacqueline, bent knee Alexander-Kins, and most bent knee walker dolls. It is similar to the way ball jointed dolls are strung. I strung a Wendy-Kins' knee recently but couldn't get good photos, so I drew a diagram (see below) of how the string should go. It is hard to get the string through the small ring inside the knee but if you are patient you can do it. Pulling with pliers helps.

Bent knee dolls, both walkers and non-walkers usually have the same type of knees and this repair will work for both. You will see the lower part of the leg has a metal loop sticking out of the top of the knee. Fit this loop through the metal ring inside the thigh. Usually a spring hooks the metal loop in the knee to the leg bar in the hip socket. If the spring is missing, bring elastic cord through the top of the loop, bring it over the bar in the hip, pull tight, and knot. Move the knot away from the bar and loop to allow more movement in the knee. See the diagram below for a pictorial depiction.



Knee Stringing Diagram

Tiny Betsy McCall by American Character is another doll with a special technique for stringing. In the factory her arms and head were strung in the same manner as the Cissette above. Her legs have plastic joints. However, I find it's almost impossible to get the arms or head tight enough stringing them in the original manner.


Tiny Betsy McCall by American Character

I like to remove Betsy's head hook and string her arms to her head.


The head hook


The head hook is inserted in a metal frame inside the body, and to remove it you have to squeeze it together tight enough to fit through the hole. I use pliers for that.


Squeeze the hook to fit through the hole.

When you squeeze the hook small enough you can drop it through the hole into the body and remove it through one of the arm holes. I save the hook for later use in a different doll.


Remove the hook.

Now attach the cord to the head by threading it over the bar inside the head, just as shown in the Cissette above. Then draw the cord through the neck into the body.


Bring the cord from the head through the neck.

Hook the arms to the elastic one at a time, just as shown on the previous dolls, pull tight, and knot.


Hook the arms.
This method allows Betsy to be tight enough to have the ability to really pose well and to hold those poses. In her original state she's kind of a floppy doll, so this method helps a lot!


Betsy restrung
I get a lot of questions about stringing ball jointed dolls, Dollikin dolls, and the modern jointed-waist Cissy dolls, so I wrote a completely separate tutorial showing how to restring a Uneeda Dollikin. Many of the steps shown for Dollikin will work for other multi-jointed dolls. You may purchase kits to restring all the dolls shown here as well as Dollikin dolls in my Etsy and eBay shops.

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