|First untie the drawstring.|
I finally got around to ordering a broken American Girl doll so I can make some tutorials on how to restore them. I thought it wasn't worthwhile to learn this doll because, after all, you can send your doll to American Girl's own hospitals and you can order customized dolls. However, the number of inquiries I am getting tells me there's a lot of interest so I decided to learn. Today I replaced an American Girl doll's eyes. This post shows the sleep eye replacement in the 18 inch dolls; for fixed eye dolls like Wellie Wishers view that tutorial.
I have been hesitant to recommend a size for the American Girl dolls because I carry Margon sleep eyes, but in the face of absolutely enormous demand I decided to size them myself. Margon is the brand used in most of the vintage dolls I restore. American Girl dolls are like Chatty Cathy and some other dolls whose eyes are specially made just for them. The Margon and other sleep eye brands can be used but they aren't a perfect fit. They are more round than the original oval-shaped eyes. If possible you will want to find original American Girl eyes. These are quite expensive, however, so many people like to order replacements of other brands. In the eyes I carry, the Margon brand, the 13mm size fits the 18 inch American Girl. When you measure the eye it looks like it takes a 14 or 15mm eye but the case on those sizes is too large and round to fit. You can buy Margon 13mm eyes from the eBay link on my website and you can custom-order them painted as you want from the Etsy link. Recently I've had several customers decide the eyes are too small just by looking at them when they arrive. I tell them I will exchange them for the 14mm size, but past buyers told me the 14mm are too large and the casing breaks apart when they try to insert the eyes. So I only recommend the 13mm. I am trying to have better-fitting eyes made to my specifications but I've been having trouble finding a trustworthy manufacturer. Stay tuned because I will update this post when I get them made.
Once you have your replacement eyes go ahead and start by removing the head. To do this you untie the drawstring at the neck, loosen the neck opening, and remove the head. You will remove the eyes by popping them out of the socket and to do so you need to get the vinyl soft. You can heat the head with a blow dryer but it is faster to boil the head. If you need to remove the doll's wig boiling the head will help with that as well. It's important to note that boiling can remove the doll's original hairstyle and can possibly damage the face paint or bring out old stains in the vinyl. Therefore, you will want to consider whether you want to risk damage to a doll by boiling it just to change the eyes. If nothing else is wrong with your doll you will want to consider the hair dryer rather than boiling to heat the vinyl. I saw one tutorial in which the doll's head was covered with a plastic bag before heating. That's a good idea you might want to try if you want to keep the doll's hair nice!
|Boil the head until the vinyl is soft.|
|Squeeze the face and pull on the eye.|
|The eye will pop out.|
|Squeeze the eye socket open.|
|Press the eye in place.|
The eye will probably be a little wonky when it goes in, so straighten it out by pressing gently against the frame with a bamboo skewer or similar tool.
|Straighten out the eye with a skewer.|
|The finished eyes|