I found this little wild child at my local Goodwill store, and bought her for $2.50 American. As you can see in the images above, she had clearly been played with a lot and generally loved by a child.
The biggest challenge with cleaning this doll was her hair. Those tiny braids! But I have found a way to unbraid a doll’s braided hair that seems to work pretty well.
The reason I wanted to unbraid the hair, is so that I could give the doll’s hair a proper wash. When children play with a doll a lot — and you can see this little lady was some child’s favorite toy to play with — they get tossed about from the sandlot to the kitchen table.
That means there can be food, soil, and who-knows-what in the strands of hair.
So how to unbraid the hair? Well, to start with, the two braids were actually sewn together with a little auburn-colored piece of embroidery floss. That had to be removed first.
It was tricky getting that thing out of the hair. It was so tiny, I had to use a magnifying glass to see it while I worked!
And what tool did I use for that? Well, I’m a seamstress, so I used a seam-ripper (unpicker), of course!
Then I had to carefully unravel each braid. Again, I chose a tool that’s familiar to most sewists: a hand-stitching needle.
Sorry my hands looks so scaly in these photos. I get scaly hands whenever Covid makes its rounds at the school where I work. There’s actually a condition called “Covid hands,” and I seem to get this condition instead of the usual upper-respiratory issue.
Although this blog post is appearing in August, I did my restoration for Anna back in December of last year, when Covid was going around. So please excuse the ugly nature of the images; there wasn’t much I could do about it!
It’s not just dry skin. It’s Covid!
Anyhow, I inserted the needle between the strands of hair within the braid, and then slowly pulled the needle toward the ends of the hair.
Here’s the result:
As you can see, Anna has a lot more curl in the unbraided hair strands than she has in the rest of the hair.
This curliness does change a bit after washing, although I think you would need to use an electric hair-straightening iron, to really get it straight.
As I’ve told you in previous blog posts, I use Dawn dish detergent to shampoo the doll’s hair. It cuts through grease, which is why it’s used by conservation groups to clean animals’ fur and birds’ feathers after oil spills.
Recently I tried using All liquid laundry fabric softener to condition my dolls’ hair. I’m not very happy with the outcome from this product.
It was cheap. I guess, as the saying goes, “You get what you pay for.”
You may recall the Belle doll’s hair looking pretty wild, even after a shampoo and conditioning… That was the result of using All fabric softener:
In the past, I have used Downy fabric softener for my go-to hair conditioner, and I was much happier with the results. But I’m going to continue this blog post with the before-and-after photos of Anna, tomorrow.
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.
For any class on Creative Spark, you don’t have to follow a schedule. Just sign up when you’re ready.
It’s a one-time fee for the course, and there’s no specific time limit to finish your course. You can just take your time and learn at the pace that suits you. So go check out my paid courses on Creative Spark, using this link.
To read more about my free sewing patterns and tutorials, please visit the “Helpful Tips” page.
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.