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This Old Doll Hospital
Restringing a Doll with Rubber
Patient: 16" Terri Lee
Problem: Unstrung

Most of the hard plastic dolls were originally strung with a large, thick rubber band. Over time, though, rubber gets hard and brittle so doll joints become loose or the band breaks altogether and the doll falls apart. Usually we use stringing cord to replace the bands, but sometimes the cord isn't stretchy enough to let the doll pose properly. Also, sometimes I don't have the right weight or thickness of cord to let me restring a doll. With a few pieces of latex tubing, though, I have the potential to make rubber bands for all the dolls, from the tiny Alexanderkins to a 22" Sweet Sue.
This is a 16" Terri Lee so I need a band that's larger than the diameter of the tube. Cutting on an angle, though lets me make a band as large as I need.
This shows the size I made for this doll. Allowing for the length of the arm and leg hooks, this should have to stretch just enough for a firm but not tight stringing. It needs to be tight enough to let the tension hold a pose for the head and legs, but so tight that it puts a lot of stress on the pieces which could warp the body.

Sometimes I get a doll that needs to be strung and there are no hooks. Hooks can be bought but it's always an assortment and often, I don't have the right size, so I make my own. For dolls this size, I use a light-weight, wire coat hanger. For little dolls, I use a heavy paper clip.
So, I have my band and the hook and I'm ready to attach the head and legs to the body. The hook goes on the band.
And the hook goes on the bar or hook or loop inside the doll's head.

If you can't find a button hook, a hook made from that same coat hanger makes a nice stringing tool. Put the band on the hook of your stringing tool and push the tool into the doll's neck and out one of the leg sockets.
Now pull the tool out and hook a leg onto the band.
Take the tool off the band and go in through the other leg socket to hook and pull the band out and attach the other leg.
On large dolls, they pose better if the arms are strung separately from the legs and head. So cut a smaller band to use for the arms. There is a latex tube that's exactly the right size for this doll's arms so I can just cut straight across for this one. Put the hook on the arm and the hook of your stringing tool on the band.
Put the stringing tool into the arm socket and pull it out the other.
Put the hook on the other arm onto the band and remove the stringing tool hook.
All done!

So, there you have it. If you cut thick, the band will have a more firm stretch. If you cut large, the band will stretch further. So a band that seems too tight can be adjusted by trimming it to a narrower width.
Unlike the office supply type rubber bands, this tubing is pure latex rubber so it won't tear when cut.

If you'd like to try the latex tubing, here's the link:

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