Tag Archives: restoration

1969 Barbie Julia

Saw this 1969 Julia Barbie on ebay in a TLC lot and knew I really wanted to try and fix her up.

Her hair was so frazzled that it was crumbling to dust and someone really had a good ol slash at her, I have no idea why. I rerooted her with foam in her head and then used enough glue to make the top of her head solid to avoid any further tearing.

I decided to go with inky blue instead of the usual red, black or ruby. The last photo is the closest match to how she looks IRL but still much too red.

I’ve noticed that most Julias have their eyebrows printed lower than the little brow bumps on her sculpt. She looks nothing like Diahann Caroll but she does have the cutest profile!

Her neck is smaller than your classic TNT/belly button body size (Repro Julia has a normal neck size) and I can’t possibly get my hands on a body dark enough and small enough here in france. I’d recommend finding a Francie body or maybe DCHC Bumblebee she’s a very close match to the 90s-2000s Nikki “light black”.

Tutorial for quickly making a generic doll into a custom to gift, donate or resell.

Especially useful around the holidays.

You’ll need

  • hair (from a donor doll, from a hair extension, seperated sewing thread or about a ¼ of a hank of doll hair),
  • a reroot tool (a needle with the eye cut into a fork inserted into a pin vise or a piece of wood)
  • tiny scissors
  • a chopstick, a clean screwdriver, tweezers or hemostats to scrape the inside of the head.
  • 90 minutes
  • glue (not white glue or super glue)
  • 24h waiting time while the glue dries

First put the doll’s hair into a loose ponytail then gently cut the first line of hair (you can brush it out later), put your chopstick or hemostats inside the neck and scrape to pull the hair out of the holes then root in the hair. Listen to a podcast or watch some tv to not get too bored as this is a bit tedious. I like to put an extra line of plugs behind the originals to make the hair look thick. Also add a few plugs to the front of the parting so the doll will look cool with her hair down as well as in a ponytail.

Optional: You can also change the doll’s eye color with acrylic paint or with sharpie (sharpie only on the actual eye decal or it’ll bleed into the vinyl) or add nail art decorations.

Final result:

This is also the method I use for restoring dolls who have worn hair from overbrushing if they’ve still got enough hair to avoid a full reroot (or don’t have glue heads!) except that you’ll need to take up to 2-3 hours gently back brushing the hair with your hands and cutting out torn, shorter strands. The area that gets the most damaged is that first line of plugs and the parting so cutting them out and replacing them after pruning the rest of the hair is a way of getting a like new custom doll.

Examples of used dolls who benefitted from a partial reroot:

Glue removal for Monster high or other Mattel dolls with glue in their heads using talc

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This works with both the white and yellow glues but it does have to be disintegrating and therefore sticky. This won’t work if the talc can’t stick to the glue.

  • Put on some clothes that you don’t mind getting covered in talc and use a face mask if you have asthma.
  • Put your thumb over the neck hole while shaking the head or you’ll get talc everywhere.
  • Squish the head to break up the glue and shake some more.
  • Tap the neck hole against your hand to get the lumps out. You may need tweezers for the bigger bits.
  • Repeat
  • You can use a screwdriver or long scissors or hemostats to gently scrape around the inside of the head to dislodge more glue but be careful to not pull hair into the head.

I used this method on my Honey Swamp (early june 2016, 4 months ago at the time of this post) and she’s not seeped anymore glue. It’s still early but now that so much glue is out, I’m hopeful that she won’t seep more and require a reroot – I don’t want to touch those gorgeous curls!

Fixing up Bratzillaz Illiana and Carolina

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The hair required quite a bit of work, I seperated out the pieces and worked on them one by one.

Illiana’s tinsel was removed with a seam ripper then pushed into the holes with a pin.
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Her silk shorts were fraying and torn so I unpicked it and turned it into a bubble skirt.
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I cut the lace off Carolina’s dress. I then turned the dress inside out to remove the messy bustle (it’s the top seam above the hips, use the seam ripper very carefully).
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The bustle was then sewn together where it was split for the dress and given quick stiches to turn it into a bolero/cape.
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The lace and tulle cape was taken apart, again with the seam ripper, and turned into a hair tie or a scarf.
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I decided to change the hard side glancing eyes, it’s limiting for photos even though they are beautiful:
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Use wire cutters or a knife to chop/shave off the large white sides of the eye (they take up almost 40% of the eye chip) and shave/sand off the little pegs for the eyesockets. I pushed tiny bits of tissue paper into the eye sockets when the eyes moved around too much to one side (from the empty space).
I find that they don’t quite reflect the light properly because the eyechips are angled, the plastic is thicker in certain areas. If I can ever be bothered, I’ll pop them out and sand the back some more.

1/ I scratched the eyeball by accident but removed the scratch by using the roughest grit on a nail buffer block then wet+the finest grit on the block.
2/ When removing the eyes, it pulls on the plastic and makes little lines in the eyeliner: keep some acrylic black paint on hand and a very thin needle or tweezer tip to apply the black again.

How to fix a squished doll head

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Dip it in a pan of boiling water for thirty seconds at a time – check to see if it looks unsquished, if not, do it again.

I made the mistake of putting Ghoulia in the pan and grabbing her out roughly with metal claws which damaged her eye makeup.
Draculaura was dunked in water by the pigtails and came out fine.

This also works for bratz dolls (takes longer) and making large rerooting holes in vinyl slightly smaller.

How to seal a repainted doll’s eyes or lips without smudging

  • Dip your paint brush into the sealant enough to get a small drip or at least a full brush.
  • Drag the brush across the lips or eye without actually touching the paint so as to create a sort of small droplet of paint covering the area you wish to seal.
  • Leave it to dry for half a day making sure that the drip won’t slide down taking the paint with it.
  • Gently wipe/scrape off any excess by using either a q-tip cotton bud dipped in alcohol and then dabbed to remove excess liquid (because that would mess up your paint) or by using a toothpick.

How to fix up your doll (general information)

  • Ink stains, stains from shoes
  • Use cotton buds/qtips and alcohol (perfume, aftershave, rubbing alcohol) to remove these

  • Nail varnish stains, factory paint errors
  • Use cotton buds/qtips and nail varnish remover but BE VERY CAREFUL! Acetone can remove your dolls face paint!

  • Deep skin stains (from clothes, permanent ink or contact with other dolls)
  • Apply acne cream (the type with peroxyde in it) to the stain and leave it in the sun for a week. Repeat this until the stain has faded away.

  • Plastic burn
  • If it’s just black or white stains, use alcohol then acetone if that isn’t strong enough.

    If the doll has actually got melted skin, you can try sanding it with a cardboard nail file but there is not much you can do except find a new body.

  • Damaged lips
  • If the paint on your doll’s lips has been damaged you can use nail varnish or acrylic paint to repaint it.

    The thing is, this is permanent! Removing the nail varnish or paint can also remove your doll’s lips so find a very small paint brush and do this very gently and patiently, you can use a toothpick for tiny areas.

    Wait for the new lips to dry (don’t touch them while they are tacky! resist the temptation!) then use something pointy to gently scratch off any excess around the lips (I use pointy edged tweezer tips).

  • Tangled hair
  • A good hair wash with conditioner then gentle brushing from the tips working up to the roots (this takes time) usually does the trick.

    Remember that hair frizz in dolls comes from stretching the hair so try and untangle knots instead of pulling on them.

    Use tweezers to remove any fluff or rotted elastics from the hair.

  • Frizzy hair
  • Heat can fix this, put your doll’s neck on the sink edge with the hair falling down then pour freshly boiled water down over the hair.

    If your doll is fairly recent and has saran hair (barbies and bratz from this decade) then you probably can use your hair straightener on her but monitor it very closely: you don’t want to melt the hair!

  • Hair sticking up/out
  • If there are stray/too short hairs you can snap them off by pulling them with your fingers.

    If your doll’s hair needs setting into a style then hold it/pin it into place then use a hair dryer to set it (careful to not melt your dolls hair with a too hot setting – this shouldn’t be an issue with modern bratz/barbie dolls with saran hair)

  • Ugly fringe/bangs to be removed
  • Pass a craft knife lightly over the roots of the hair to be removed, at the very base of the skull. Do this gently and bit by bit so you don’t end up with spiky bits of hair or chop off anything important. Using small nail scissors works too.

  • Head plastic tie aka the “umbilical cord”
  • Part the hair: use a toothpick or a pencil to move hair away from the plastic bit you’re going to cut then use a craft knife or nail scissors/clippers to chop it off at the base.

  • Glue
  • Depending on the glue: alcohol, soaking on hot water, white spirit (paint thinner) will remove the glue

    Only acetone can break down super glue but it also removes paint and burns the doll’s body so be very careful.

  • Broken limb
  • If it can be glued back on then use superglue for plastics (special glue that won’t melt plastics). Same if it’s split: glue it together and bind it up for 48h until the glue is fully dry.

    If it can’t be glued then go shopping for a damaged/cheap doll of the same type and skin colour and use their body (see “inside a bratz head” for more info).

    You can also use bodies from other dolls (barbie bodies can fit with a little heat from a hairdryer).