Q and A: Restringing a Toni Doll

Cynthia Geer Wright contacted me recently to ask how to restring a Toni doll. Never having done it myself, I provided her with a YouTube video to watch. The title of the video is How I Restrung My Toni Doll. We posted her question on the Toni Doll Fan Club on Facebook also. Right away, some other members said they needed advice on this too.

Cynthia’s doll – ready for restringing.

Those who had experience doing this project shared their advice:

  • I personally like cord and buy that on eBay. It seems easier than the rubber bands as I can do it by myself. A big hook is the only tool I use to string dolls. You can buy the S hooks at hardware stores for a lot cheaper than on E-Bay. (Kathy Wahlquist Akin)
  • A number of people recommended Dollspart, a website that sells doll supplies.

Cynthia commented, “I’m apprehensive about restringing my first doll. Reassures me that so many others have done it.” Kathy Wahlquist Akin reassured her, “It’s so easy. After you do it you’ll laugh at how nervous you were.”

I was pleased to see a few days later that Cynthia got her nerve up and did the restringing. Here is her experience:

Woo hoo! Success! I’ll be darned. I’m not someone who is confident in my ability to learn manual skills so this is great. Advice: watch the video, The Basics of Cleaning and Stringing Vintage and Antique Dolls. I watched it a couple times, scrutinizing it and taking notes! The Toni doll restringing is about 2/3 way through. And I did use the rubber band. And the hemostat! (a hemostat is a medical clamp that looks similar to a pair of scissors)

I got stuck a place or two but figured it out…Crimped the head post that kept unhooking as I tried to pull the band, but not closed, just enough to stay better. Pulled the wide rubber band all the way down in the hook so it wouldn’t tear. I used the hemostat to grab the band. Then I had to PULL it hard through the opening and set so I could reach the band with the little hook. Yep, more pics of process would be helpful! Next time!

Cynthia Geer Wright
Cynthia, “All back together! Phew! And her limbs and head are much tighter.”

Toni’s Tuxedo

I ordered a batch of boy doll’s clothing so my Toni doll could have some slacks. Of course, the American Girl and Boy dolls are stockier and taller than my P-90 Toni. That means I needed to adjust them to fit her.

Here’s one outfit that came in the batch of clothes. It’s supposed to be a tuxedo, but I saw potential to convert the three pieces of the outfit into other looks.

As you can see, the slacks are too long and loose. The sleeves to the jacket reach well past her fingertips, so it was of no use unless I worked some magic on it.

Using the Shirt

The sleeveless shirt was long enough that my doll could wear it as a dress. Granted, it is more mini-skirt length sort of like the mini-dress that Jean Shrimpton made famous back in the 1960s. All it would need is some taking in of the seams on each side to create the A-line.

Converting the Slacks

The slacks would require taking in the inseam and shortening the legs. That sounded like a lot of work, so I opted for a totally different look as you can see below.

Toni in black outfit.

The loose-fitting pants got a quite different look when pulled up above her bust. I left the pants legs as-is for a harem pants look. I could put elastic in the hem to emphasize that. The black lace goes over her shoulders and down each side of the harem pants.

I haven’t decided yet what to do with the black jacket. I’ll leave that for another day. If you have a larger Toni doll, the outfits might work without having to remake them. Here’s where I got them (Amazon). There were 6 outfits in the batch.

Storing Toni’s Ballgowns

People usually dress their vintage Toni doll in the dress styles worn by little girls in the 1950s and 1960s. The gathered skirts and short sleeves look cute on this doll. My doll has ventured into a wider range of attire from evening gowns to costumes to slacks and clothing from earlier eras.

I was able to get doll-sized hangers for her clothes but those didn’t work for storing her ballgowns. Then I found this method of hanging those long dresses.

Solution for storing a doll’s ballgowns.

I like that this fits over a hanger that you already have. The fabric sleeve Velcros together with the clips dangling down. This is sold on Amazon to hold lots of baseball caps. I should get 4 of these for my spouse to hold all his caps.

For my use, I got these to hold doll dresses. Although I have doll-sized hangers for the dresses, the ballgowns and strapless dresses won’t hang on a hanger. These clips take care of that. Hanging each dress on a separate clip keeps them handy for wearing. Here’s a solution for little girls with a big wardrobe for their dolly or for a doll collector.

Toni in her homemade prom dress.

If you want to see the details on this hanging option, here’s the link to it on Amazon. It’s called a Hat Organizer. There are 2 of the sleeves in a package, so you can hang your dolls’ evening gowns, slacks, or other items that won’t work with an ordinary doll hanger.