Restringing Your American Girl ~ An Illustrated Guide

      by Taffy Cheerful


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The limbs on American Girl dolls and other "semi-strung" dolls are held into their ball-and-socket joints by a length of elastic cord, a separate cord for each joint.

Over time, the elastic cord will stretch, resulting in a loose joint and a floppy limb. Fixing this problem is actually very simple and will take about 30 minutes.

Tools needed include a pair of scissors, forceps or a hemostat (to hold the cord under tension) and a crimping tool (a combo electrical stripper/crimper works great). Parts needed include a length of 1/8" cloth-covered elastic cord, two 5/16" brass ferrules and two brass washers (3/16" center hole). The ferrule and washer secure the cord on either side of the joint.

Ferrules, washers and the wire stripper/crimper are available at most hardware stores. Look for the ferrules in the plumbing department, where they may be called 5/16" tube insert sleeves. They are used in compression fittings and go inside flexible plastic hose, like what is used in fish tanks, etc. The ferrules keep the hose from crushing as the compression fitting is tightened. (Strictly speaking, a ferrule goes around the outside of something, like the elastic cord; these "insert sleeves" are made to go on the inside of a piece of plastic tubing. We are using these "inserts" as ferrules. Neat, huh?)

1/8" elastic cord for restringing can be found at:

A Dolly's World

Mini World

Search for "elastic" to find it.

The hemostat is available from A Dolly's World and National Artcraft (search for "clamp").

First, undress the doll, untie the string at the back of her neck and remove her head.


Remove all of the stuffing from the doll and put it safely aside. It takes a lot to stuff such a small body.

Once the stuffing is removed, you will see the inside ends of the elastic cords, one for each limb.

Select the cord for the loose joint on the inside of the doll and, while pulling on it, cut the cord as shown between the ferrule and the dome-shaped plastic cup, releasing the joint. There are two of these plastic cups, one on the inside of the doll's body and one inside the doll's limb.

Grab the cup that is inside the limb with the forceps and gently work it out of the hole at the top of the limb. You may need to heat the end of the limb with a hair dryer set on high to make it pliable enough to remove the cup. Remove the elastic cord from the cup.

Thread the new elastic cord through a brass ferrule and a brass washer making certain that the big end of the ferrule is facing the washer. Thread the cord through the body cup being careful to ensure that the cup is facing the joint.

Thread the cord through the open socket joint from the inside and then through the leg cup, brass washer and brass ferrule.

With the crimper, carefully crimp the brass ferrule on the limb end of the elastic cord.

Gently squeeze the limb cap and insert it into the hole at the top of the limb (again, you may need to apply some heat to make this easier). Pull the elastic cord to seat the cup neatly against the inside of the hole.

From the inside of the doll, pull the elastic cord to cinch up joint and slide the cup, washer and ferrule against the inside of the joint. While pulling on the cord to apply tension, clamp the forceps immediately above the brass ferrule.

With the forceps maintaining the tension, crimp the ferrule to secure the cord and cut off the excess elastic cord.

Restuff the doll, packing it into the bottom first so that there are no gaps and the doll is not misshapen. Putting a little of the stuffing on top of the doll's shoulders so they look natural.

Put the doll's head into the neck opening and cinch the cord to bring the casing tight around the doll's neck. It should be secure, yet not so tight as to prevent the doll's head from turning. Tie the cord in a square knot.


Redress the doll and you now have a doll you can enjoy for many years to come.


If you got here from the Doll Restoration Wizard, click the button below to go on to the next step.

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This page was last updated 08/10/06