Restring a Doll With a Basic 5-part Body

A doll being worked on in a repair shop

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The most common doll repair request in your average doll shop is to restringing. It can be complicated if your doll has a walking mechanism or a multi-part antique composition body with jointed knees and elbows. For most dolls with five-piece bodies—a torso, two legs, and two arms—it's quite easy to restring. The process will take about 20 minutes.

What You Need

  • Scissors
  • Doll-stringing elastic
  • Hemostats (optional)
  • Doll-stringing hook (optional)

How to Restring

  1. Before starting the restringing, choose doll re-stringing elastic in the same size that was originally used. If the original elastic is not available, then consider the size of the hook or loop on the limbs of the doll and choose an elastic that fits comfortably without leaving too much room. Heavy composition and bisque need stronger elastic than vinyl dolls.
  2. Look at the doll limbs and head (each part should have a hook or loop) and decide which pattern you want to use to restring the doll. If your doll is still loosely strung with original elastic, cut it now and look at the path of the elastic before you remove it completely. If you don't know how your doll was originally strung, experiment with the elastic, trying to string different parts to others to see how the limbs lie best.
  3. Once you've decided the restringing pattern, start to restring the doll. Estimate how much elastic you will need to string the arms together and make a knot, usually around double the length of the torso, plus enough to form the knot. Cut this piece of elastic.
  4. Using the example of the head and legs strung together with the arms strung separately, take your cut piece of elastic and string it through one arm's loop or hook, leaving one end of the elastic outside the doll's torso. Take the end strung through the arm's loop/hook, and string through the torso. String it through the other arm's loop/hook, then string it back through the torso.
  5. Make a tight knot. If you have a hemostat, grasp both ends of elastic in the hemostat (coming through the one armhole and doll arm loop/hook) after tightly pulling the elastic to an appropriate pressure. Don't pull too hard—you can easily break delicate composition or bisque if you do. Clamp your hemostat. If you don't have a hemostat, simply pull both ends of elastic tightly.
  6. Tie a knot that won't slip out, such as double-knotting in opposite directions. Cut any extra lengths of elastic to near the knot. Release your hemostat (or your grip on the elastic) carefully. If the pressure on the elastic is too tight or too loose, you may have to re-do the process, so it helps to have extra elastic.
  7. Repeat the entire process with the legs and head. This time, string the elastic starting at one leg hole, through the first leg loop/hook—leaving the extra length of the elastic outside that first leg hole—and then through the head loop, back down to the second leg loop, and then back to the first leg hole. Repeat the instructions for tightening and tying the elastic knot.


  • You can guide the elastic without using a doll stringing hook, but some people find a hook to be helpful. Many like using a hemostat, which helps you maintain proper pressure on the elastic when tying.
  • These instructions only work for dolls with hooks in the limb openings or loops in the limb openings, but some later vinyl dolls have rims that pop into the body instead. These instructions also will not work for peg-limbed dolls or cloth-bodied dolls.
  • Don't pull the elastic too tight, as it runs the risk of breaking dolls made of bisque or vinyl. You also will make the doll look unnatural in its posing if the doll is strung too tight.
  • Don't use sewing elastic because it is not strong enough nor does it have enough spring to string most dolls. Use doll-stringing elastic only.
  • Don't use rubber bands—they disintegrate quickly.