I frequent second-hand stores when I feel like having a “fun day out,” and I like to look for used dolls that can be repaired and given a new wardrobe. But one of the most challenging problems with used dolls is matted up, tangled hair.
I’ve had some amazing successes with dolls that had such horrendous hair problems, I honestly didn’t think I could do anything to repair their rat’s nest hair. Just look at the before images of this 11 inch Strawberry Shortcake doll, for example:
Yes, those are the dreaded porcupine toys wadded up in her hair! I don’t know what the toys are actually called, but they remind me of sea urchins with porcupine quills that have a fishhook at the end of each quill.
Have a closer look:
I found her at a second-hand store, and as if the Fates were involved somehow, it had only been a week or so before this that someone had contacting me, requesting doll clothes patterns for the very same 11″ Strawberry Shortcake doll.
So I couldn’t resist buying her and carefully removing each fishhook porcupine quill from this lovely lady’s red locks, until I could begin the process of washing, conditioning, and brushing out her hair.
I love how she turned out! Just look at her!
But last December, while searching the toy aisles for a doll worth repairing, I came across this lovely lady, and in all honesty, her hair didn’t look too bad:
If the doll’s face reminds you a bit of Emma Watson, the actress who played Hermione in the Harry Potter films, there’s a good reason for that. This doll was part of the promotional merchandise associated with the 2017 non-animated version of Beauty and the Beast, in which Watson starred as Belle.
I was pretty excited to find this doll at a second hand store, hoping to restore her to her NIB glory. However, some dolls’ hair just isn’t fixable, and I’m afraid this doll is one of them.
I did the usual routine for doll hair repair, as you’ll see in the images below.
Doll hair today isn’t usually made of real hair, like it was back in Victorian times. Instead, companies like Hasbro, which made and sold the Belle doll for Beauty and the Beast merchandising, use synthetic materials, like nylon, saran, kanekalon, polypropylene, and acetate for doll hair.
That’s why normal human hair shampoos and conditioners don’t do much to help tame your doll’s wild locks.
Instead, I usually try using a very tiny amount of wet fabric softener, like the stuff you see in Figure A above. I am not as skilled at doll hair repair as other collectors though, and as such, I sometimes have an epic fail.
Poor Belle is one such experiment gone wrong. These images show the results after I spent a weekend working to repair her hair…
I went at this project with the best of intentions, but maybe this doll’s hair just isn’t fixable!
As you can see in the image above, I got a nice wave to happen on the left side of her hair, but the right side and the back view look… pretty bad still.
Her body type lands somewhere between a typical Disney Princess doll’s body (smaller in the bust and narrower in the waist than Barbie, but otherwise similar in proportion to Barbie); however her body mold doesn’t match the Disney Princess dolls I’ve made clothes for in the past.
Later this week I’d like to post some images of Belle in doll clothes that do fit her, so you’ll know what patterns you can use. And even though her hair didn’t turn out great, I think I will go ahead and make a gallery for her on this website.
You never know, there may be people searching for doll clothes patterns to fit her, and I’d like to provide some options for them, regardless of the quality of this doll’s hair.
Do you have any tips for us on repairing a doll’s matted hair? Can you think of bloggers or YouTubers who have great tutorials for doll make-overs? Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comment section!
If you enjoyed this blog post, and you’d like to see my videos, you might want to navigate over to my YouTube channel, ChellyWood1 to look through my playlists.
For anyone who would like to expand their dolls’ wardrobes, you should really check out my “How to Alter Doll Clothes Patterns” course and my “Design Your Own Doll Pants Patterns from Scratch” classes on the Creative Spark online learning platform. Here’s my bio page on their website, where you can learn more.
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Disclaimer/Credit/Affiliate Marketing Link:
Chelly Wood and the ChellyWood.com website are not affiliated with any of the doll or toy companies mentioned in this blog post, but Chelly enjoys designing her doll clothes to fit a variety of dolls. To learn more about the doll companies mentioned in today’s post, please visit the doll or toy company’s website.