Lonely Lisa gets a bath….


The before picture

I thought it might be fun to blog the make-over of a vintage Lonely Lisa doll, from start to finish.  I’m not a doll restorer, so my methods might not be the best.  However, the dolls that find their way into my hands are usually one step away from the land fill, so I don’t think I’m ruining anything precious.  Here we go!


Undressed Lisa.

This doll isn’t terrible. Her stuffing has shifted and the wire armature inside has been mangled so she can’t hold a position.  Very floppy.  Also, she smells.  That stuffing has to go.  There’s nothing else to do but open her up and empty her out.  If you ever do this, make it an outdoor project.  And wear a face mask if you can.  The foam stuffing has turned into a powder and it will go everywhere.  Let’s try to keep it out of our lungs!  Get a plastic bag ready to collect all the filling.


Find the area to open. Usually Lisa has an opening on a shoulder. See where she was hand stitched shut years ago?

Lisa dolls typically have a whip stitched opening on the shoulder that you can snip open.


Neck wire

Lisa’s head is attached to the body by a thin wire which runs through a casing around her neck.  To remove her head you’ll have to unwind the wire and slip it out of the casing.  You might need a pair of pliers.


Unwind the wire with pliers. Watch out, it can be sharp!


Remove the wire. Her head falls off easily.

Now Lisa’s head can slip off and you’ll have access to her insides.  It gets messy!  There is no delicate way to do this.  Just turn her body inside out, trying to capture as much of the stuffing in a bag.


Hmmm. Vintage smell.



The wire armature will have to come out with the stuffing.  Try not to tear her cloth body as you remove it.


Lonely Lisa’s wire armature.

Shake off as much of the dust possible.  Tap the arms and legs to get the little bits of stuffing that may be pushed up in the hands and feet.


The empty doll body, inside out.

At this point, you’re ready to wash everything.  I brushed her hair, getting any tangles out before shampooing.

Here her body has a soak in mild soapy water.  I used a magic eraser sponge to remove some scuffs and dirt.  She has some purple marks that look like ink stains.  I’ll use some acne cream to try and fade those marks later.


Wash, rinse, repeat. Seriously. The water was black after the initial wash.

I washed the head separately.  Her hair was washed with cool water and regular shampoo.  Her hair is brittle and prone to breaking, so I tried to be gentle.  I gave her hair a ‘cream rinse’ of Downy Fabric Softener.  Her bangs were a little jagged and I didn’t want to trim them so I decided to style her hair with side-swept bangs.


Lisa’s head fits on a shampoo bottle. A perfect place for her to dry.

I slipped a tube of cotton fabric (the ribbing cut off of a clean, white sock) over her head to keep her hair in place as it dries.


I’ll let this doll dry for a few days.  I want to make sure that her head and limbs are completely dry inside before I re-stuff them.  But for now, you can see that she’s on her way back to fresh and almost good as new!


3 thoughts on “Lonely Lisa gets a bath….

  1. Looking good! I have done this many times with other dolls over the years. The fun part is seeing how nice the face & hair turns out. I use socks and also little girl’s tights cut into “loops” for holding down the wild hair. LOL! I can’t wait to see her all finished. :o)

  2. Pre bath Lisa looks like my mother during most of the 70’s. She didn’t need a bath to refresh her, she needed rehab.

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