DIY Doll Surgery

Warning: this post contains graphic photos that may upset wee children… just remembering my own child freaking out, screaming and pointing at the window of a clothes dryer as her beloved teddy bear rolled round and round… poor teddy had lost an eye in the wash.

doll (3)This is what happens when some boys play with dolls.  My grandson turned this 18″ Gotz Puppe (made in Germany, same size as American Girl dolls) into the Bride of Chuckie. She was also body slammed repeatedly in “wrestle man” games, then left for dead in the bottom of grandma’s toy box. I snapped this photo to make a good morning meme.

A few days ago, a little girl was here visiting with her mom and grandfather. She helped me scrub down the “scary” doll’s face with Nozema and we started combing out her hair. When it was time for the child to leave, we put the doll down for a nap on the couch.


Last night, I laid her out on a bench for this photo. What she really needs is a doll hospital… but medical bills for a toy (plus shipping both ways) is cost prohibitive for this grandma’s budget.  I would have to fix her myself, using whatever supplies I have on hand.

I imagine doll doctors would remove her head… but I don’t have the tools or the band thing to put it back on right, so I flipped her upside down and slit her back open with an X-acto blade for a little exploratory surgery. I needed to know how that cord runs before I could figure out how to snug up those limbs.


Detaching the limbs was pretty easy. Each was attached by a thick elastic cord with a cup thingy on each side of the joint. The cord was too frayed to tighten up.


I did not have the right type of cord, but I did have some rat-tail beading cord that might work… and 8 odd beads to tie onto the cord to keep the cord from pulling through the holes in those cup things.


I thought this would be the hard part, but warming up the vinyl a bit in simmering water made it easy to pop those cup things back into the arms and legs.


This is an “inside the incision” shot of the first leg joint tied down with a bead, triple knotted for security. I orientated the cup inside the body as it was originally, even though I thought about flipping it.


The hard part was stitching her back up… all that stuffing had to go back in and get poked and squished around as it was before, lest she’d be lumpy or oddly shaped. Then her back had to be drawn in tight, stitched on the same line or her clothes wouldn’t fit right. I started with quilting thread, then switched to a stronger beading cord that could take the stress without breaking.

I did not photograph her “scar” line.
Dolly was a trooper… she did not whimper at all.

IMG_20160120_223402Here she is all done… she’s wearing a two piece swim suit cut from a fuzzy sock that had lost its mate.

Sock panties for dolls are easy to make… just cut ye 4 inches up from the toe (give or take, that’s the waist band so better to go too much and trim later) and then slice a ye 1″ slit on each side of the toe for leg holes. Sewing is optional… I didn’t bother to hem anything.

The top is the top part of the sock, with a slit cut to make the neck strap, put on like a tube top.

I suppose professional doll repairers, doll hospital doctors, and doll collectors would all cringe seeing this post… if you got the money to have toys professionally repaired, go for it… if not, DIY.

Now, to finish combing out that hair… thanks for reading.