How to Restring American Girl Dolls

What you will need:

  • hair dryer
  • scissors
  • wire stripper/crimping tool
  • hemostat clamp
  • elastic cord (5/32″ diameter cut about 5″ long)
  • 8 crimp sleeves (18-10 awg)
  • yarn needle (optional)
  • wooden kitchen spoon (optional)

Note: You can purchase kits with the elastic cord and crimp sleeves at AcaciaLaneDolls on Etsy.


I recently purchased this doll online whose limbs were quite loose. I was planning on just tightening them, however once I got into the body of the doll, they had already been tightened in the past and there was no more elasticity to the elastic cord.

Since there was no more room to be able to tighten the limbs, I needed to completely restring the doll. To begin, remove the doll’s head by untying the strings at the neck. I like to use a yarn needle to get into the middle of the knot to pull apart. Remove all the stuffing. I put all the stuffing in a grocery bag to keep it together. Cut the elastic between the crimp sleeve and the white tension cup on the doll.


Repeat the previous step and cut all the limbs from the doll.

With the blow dryer, set the heat on high and the speed on low and warm the opening of the doll limb until it is softened. This may take a few minutes. Once warm you can squeeze the opening and it will be more pliable.


Use the hemostat clamp to grab onto and pull out the tension cup. I found it easiest to rotate the cup on its side to pull it out. Keep the tension cup and discard the old cord. Repeat for all limbs.

With the new piece of elastic, place the crimp sleeve onto one end with the narrow end facing the edge of the cord. With the crimping side of your wire stripper/crimping tool, crimp the sleeve on the cord. Repeat for all elastic cords.


With the same tension cup you removed from inside the doll’s limb, place onto the cord with the dome part against the wide edge of the crimp sleeve. Reheat the limb opening with the blow dryer and squeeze the tension cup back inside the limb. I found it the easiest to pull the cup away from the crimp a little and place it down into the limb opening first. Then turn the tension cup on its side and press through. Repeat for all limbs.


Starting with the legs first, with the limb and cord, place the cord through the corresponding limb opening on the cloth body. Place the other plastic tension cup through the cord with the dome facing up. Place another crimp sleeve onto the cord with the wider end against the tension cup. Pull the cord tight. Using the hemostat clamp, clamp down on the cord while you are holding it pulled tight so the tension remains in place. With the crimping tool, crimp the sleeve to the cord to secure it. Remove the hemostat. Repeat for all limbs.

Trim the ends of the elastic cords.


Once all the limbs are reattached, stuff the body. Use the handle of a wooden kitchen spoon to compress the stuffing as you go. Be sure to pay attention to how it looks as you stuff and use all the original stuffing.

Place the head back in the neck opening. Pull the neck strings tight and tie in a double knot. If you have trouble getting a double knot tight like I do, after the first knot, clamp the hemostat on the first knot while holding it tight. Then tie the second knot. Remove the hemostat and tighten the knot down.


Now your doll has completely new strings and all the limbs are nice and tight!

Doll is American Girl Truly Me 17, outfit and skating gear is by Pleasant Company.

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