Are you afraid to restring your American Girl doll’s loose legs? Here’s an EASY tutorial…

It’s something many people are terribly afraid of… fixing the floppy legs and arms on their American Girl dolls. But let me tell you, once you do it, you’re NEVER sorry… I saw this super easy way to fix those loose legs and arms and decided I’d show you this way first. (I’ll put the link to the You Tube video at the bottom of this post.) There is another way to fix your dolls limbs where you have to buy elastic cord and brass ferrules and use boiling hot water and crimpers…but we’ll go easy this first time and do it a much simpler way. All you will need are a few strong elastic pony tail holders and about 45 minutes to an hour of time.

These are the pony tail holders I bought. I’d buy a decent brand like Goody or scunchi so you end up with a nice strong elastic band.


I was going to do Addy’s legs, but she told me she didn’t want to take her dress off yet… so I checked my other dolls and found Kirsten’s to be the absolute worst and floppy… She can’t stand a bit without a stand and I’ve been wanting to do her legs for a long long time…


I first measured her waist and hips to make sure I can get her somewhat back to the same proportions…


Okay….let’s get started… untie her neck strings… sometimes they are really tight, but just keep working at it and they’ll come loose.


Remove your dolls head and then you have to pull ALL of her stuffing out of the body through the neck opening… There is a LOT in those bodies.. and Kirsten was stuffed exceptionally full…


Dig down in her body when you get all the stuffing out until you find something like this…a plastic tension cup with hopefully a little brass ferrule and an elastic cord sticking out. The brass ferrule is crimped and that’s what holds the legs tight. When the elastic gets loose, that’s why the legs get floppy. The newer dolls have the elastic cord run through the tension cap and tied in a fat knot. It’s not a very good way to achieve a tight leg. If you do find a knot, you can still do this method. Just wrap the pony tail holder below the knot like you’ll see below…


Pull on the elastic cord and it should pull away from the tension cup and you’ll see a space between the brass ferrule and the white plastic cap.


Now take one of your pony tail holders and wrap around the part of the elastic cord that is stretched out. Go around the cord like a figure eight or like you were putting it around a pony tail. Pull the cord as tight as you can manage..this will ensure a snug and tight leg…


Keep wrapping it around the cord until you’ve used it all up. Pull the last time around so that it’s at the bottom of your wraps.


It should look like this…


Then do the other leg the same way…


When I got to this part, I could already tell it was going to be much tighter…


Her arms weren’t that loose, so didn’t do them, but if your dolls arms ARE loose, just do them the same way… Now you can begin putting all her stuffing back in.


LOOK!!! She can stand on her own… success so far! Now to get all that stuffing back in…


Halfway filled up and look at this…


I wasn’t sure it was all going to go in there, but since it came out, I just kept pushing and pushing to get it all in… and it fit…


Next you can wiggle her head back in the opening and tug and tug to get the strings tight and tied…


..almost done… just a little bit tighter…




…and so is Kirsten. She kicked the doll stand out of the way… :o)


All is well in the Wiedlocher house tonight!

You can see the You Tube video of how to do this HERE.

See you tomorrow,
Blessings, Jeanne

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  1. Marilyn Grotzky says:

    Wow! I am impressed. It’s work, but it works, and it’s really inexpensive and not more time consuming than packing and unpacking a doll for shipment.
    Since the first, you’ve finished a very successful outfit, designed a new and attractive hair accessory, listed the new outfit on ebay, shown us a lot of really charming pink dresses, and tightened Kirsten’s legs, producing an excellent tutorial. All of this in 4 days. How productive can you get?

    • Thanks Marilyn,
      One doll down and a few to go… It’s really pretty simple and not too scary once you get going. You know you aren’t going to hurt your doll…and it’s not nearly as tedious as painting their lips!!! :o)
      When you list all the things I’ve gotten done in a few days, that makes me feel better…I thought I hadn’t done hardly anything…OH…don’t forget… I got a root canal too! :o)
      Thanks for lifting my spirits Marilyn,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  2. Morning Jeanne, What a great blog, I’m not even a doll person but was really interested in how you tighten a dolls legs. Great job! You made it look simple, just a bit of focus is all you deed (and a scrunch)?

    • Morning to you dear sister!
      Does Hannah’s doll have loose legs? I know you could fix them… It’s pretty simple and with a creative person like you, I know it’d be a snap…
      Thanks and love you,

  3. Thanks for that Jeanne. I’ve seen a tutorial before, but it just looked too scary. Now, definitely will be on my to do list. I did see a doll for sale that had a zip tie at the neck. Guess that was done for awhile by AG. Perhaps someone knows the dates? Suppose that could be removed and new strings put in place instead?
    Looking forward to a crab feed tomorrow night here in northern CA. Yum. Fund raiser for Cal Fire Forestry. Oregon crab has to be imported as the water here is too warm to make ours safe this year.

    • HI Joy,
      Thanks for reading today and I hope I made it a little less scary for you to try. I’m always an email away if you get stuck…
      I used to have a doll that had a zip tie at the neck too. I can’t remember which doll it was…one that I sold, but they did have that at their neck.
      Your dinner tomorrow night sounds like fun and for a good cause too… Have fun and eat some crab for me!!
      Blessings, Jeanne

  4. Yes, I’ve seen that method of tightening and that is the method I would use, must better than the boiling water one. My girls are nice and tight because they were bought NIB. I was fortunate that MG could stand well because I knew some of them couldn’t. It appears PC strung the dolls more tightly and they stay better unless played with a lot. kirsten seems much happier now.
    I’m sure Addy doesn’t want to take her beautiful dress off. Since she’s the newest maybe she doesn’t know that she’ll have to give it up. I think that may become a problem.
    I didn’t know if you would recall my username over on AGPT and I like people to connect with me and not recognize me if they know me from different places.
    As I said The Queen’s Treasures seems to have wonderful things. My daughter was into The Little House theme with Kirsten so their new line would have been perfect. We created and found some extras back then.
    Did you know that TQT have a Laura Ingalls doll is coming very soon? I saw the TV show premiere when I was six and introduced my daughter to the Little House books, TV show, and Anne of Grren Gables books at a very young age of three or four. They were two of my childhood favorites that I love to this day.

    • HI Laura,
      As I was reading some of the sites about tightening limbs, I found out the newest dolls from AG are having their limbs attached with the “knotted” elastic method used. That’s too bad because the ferrels are actually the best and tightest way for your dolls limbs. I’ll have to see how long Kirsten’s legs stay tight. I just have my dolls standing on a shelf so there is usually no sitting with them, to stretch out the elastic, so it may hold for a long time. It’s really nice to have her be able to stand on her own… I still keep my dolls in stands on the doll shelf, but when I list things I don’t like it when the stand has to show.

      I passed on that little sewing machine…I thought I’d hit some antique shops and see if I could find one similar and if not I’ll maybe think about getting that one again at some time. It was a factory second and went for $43 + $9.98 shipping… a bit more than I wanted to pay right now, just for a prop…
      I didn’t know a Laura Ingalls doll is coming out…I’m sure you’ll be getting her, right? That was on my favorite shows too. We still have a video of one of the episodes… “The Lord is my Shepherd” and if I watch it I still cry!
      Thanks Laura,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  5. Jane Miller says:

    Jeanne, thanks so much for showing this method…I think I have the courage now to do my daughter’s Felicity doll…gulp!

    • HI Jane,
      I hope you’ll give the leg tightening a try. I would hold your hand while you did it if we lived closer to each other, but I know you can do it! Just think how happy Felicity will feel to have new legs!
      Glad to have helped you…
      Blessings, Jeanne

  6. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!

  7. I’m thankful I have my husband to do this for me. I do stuff the doll though as I want it to look as it did before he started. I’ll show this to him as I doubt he knows of it. I had heard of using hair ties but never looked into it.
    Hope your dental work was finished without any problems. I cringed when I skimmed through that post. It was too uncomfortable to read all of it as I have the same problem due to a demented dentist from my youth.
    I’m new to your blog but have admired your clothes many times!

    • HI Deb,
      Thanks for your comments and it sounds like your hubby gets involved with your dolly things like mine does… that’s fun… You’ll have to show him and see what he thinks… It’s pretty quick and I’m thinking of doing a few more of mine like this. I’ll show the other way with the ferrels and the cording in a bit…
      Sorry about the “dentist” story… bringing up bad memories and all for you… :o(
      Welcome and I hope you enjoy yourself here… thanks for jumping in and chatting…
      Blessings, Jeanne

  8. Hi Jeanne,

    There is “something” about the way you explain things that makes one feel not so scared to try…and you did that for me with the tightening of your Kirsten’s legs. What a lovely tutorial. Thank you so much for taking time to type all of the directions up and taking all of those helpful photos too. A picture is worth a thousand words.

    Take care.

    • HI Becky,
      I’m glad my post came across as easy and not scary to try. I hope some of you ladies try it and see how easy it really is.
      It would have been better to have video taped it but then you have to stop and start things. This way, with just pictures, you can do one step and them move onto the next picture. I’m pleased that you liked it Becky.
      Blessings, Jeanne

  9. What a wonderful tutorial. You are certainly the Doll Mistress. I love Laura’s comments and will have to visit the AGPT site and try to hook up. I registered and was “approved” but forgot to visit it. I’ll send the comments about the Laura Ingalls doll and books to my son for his daughter who is six (not too early?). He taught her to read when she was 2-1/2 with “Your Baby Can Read” videos and practice. I had boys and am not familiar with any of the “girl stuff.”

    I just received a summer outfit from Germany that I won at a good price. I bid on it knowing that I could fix the loose sole on the shoe, hence fewer bidders, thanks to your tutorial on shoes for Ten Ping. Got some other things with the excuse of an upcoming birthday thanks to Laura’s suggestions on Felicity accessories. You’re a great photographer, too, better than a video.

    • HI Susette,
      Oh my, I’ve never been called a Doll Mistress before… :o)
      I had to check out the Laura Ingalls doll too… I was a big Little House on the Prairie fan too. That Michael Landon could make me cry at the drop of a hat!
      Congrats on your doll outfit from Germany! Just put all your skills together and you’ll have that outfit fixed up perfectly!
      Thanks for the compliments on being a good photographer… I can’t believe anyone would say that, but thank you! :o)
      Blessings, Jeanne

  10. Linda Doyle says:

    I’m late again to the party, due to babysitting, but you are really a brave one, Jeanne, to try to even do leg tightening! I don’t think I ever will have to do that, hope not, but if it ever had to happen, you certainly gave a very informative and excellent, not to say friendly, instructions! My dolls were all bought new, save for Josefina, who was very nice and tight when she came, and all they do is stand around and look pretty, so I don’t have any problems with them yet. It’s fun, though, to see how you do it and you really made it look easy.

    Did you know that the new doll Lea has zip ties, and they have been saying on FB that they are going to switch over to all zip ties gradually. Will that make taking off the head any harder?

    Oh, Laura is on Playthings?? Wish I knew her user name. She probably knows mine!

    • HI Linda,
      It really wasn’t that hard or scary to do. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. It has made such a difference in Kirsten’s standing… I love it! I think because my dolls just stand too, they should be nice and steady on their legs with them being tightened.
      Well, if you ever do need to do them, this is the fastest and easiest way to do them…

      As far as the zip ties, they can be cut off with a pair of snips.

      Laura is keeperofthepast on AGPT, Linda… just so you know…
      Thanks so much,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  11. We just bought my niece a My Life As doll (she’s 6, so expensive dolls for playing are out of the question, especially since this is her first really good doll) but noticed the joints are very stiff and hard to pose in a sitting position. These dolls have the vinyl chest plate instead of a full soft/stuffed torso. Do you happen to know if they have strung joints as well and any way to make them move a little easier? Since she isn’t stuffed all the way to the neck, there is not “neck string” to untie and take a peek. We can’t seem to get her to a full sitting position and don’t want to ruin her by forcing it, especially since she is brand new! Any insight would be greatly appreciated 🙂

    • HI Amber,
      I’m sorry but I don’t know anything about the My Life dolls and how they are put together. I’d do a little “googling” if I were you to see what you can find out. I’ll make a note of this and ask the ladies who read my blog and see if they know anything. Keep watching and maybe I’ll have an answer for you soon…
      Thanks for asking,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  12. Stumbled across this page in search of a way to inexpensively restring Addy. So grateful I did. This was very helpful and so simple, but I never would have thought of it. Thanks for sharing.

    • HI Nadia,
      I know….isn’t that the greatest trick ever for a quick fix? I’m thrilled it worked for you!
      Blessings, Jeanne

  13. Hi Jeanne,

    I was scared to even attemp doing this. I told my self that I could do it, so I google this and found your link!! You are an angel, thank you.
    Can’t wait for my daughter to get back from school. Two days ago she was so discurage that both her two dolls McKenna and Kanani limbs where so loose that she couldn’t practice her cheer routines with them.

    Thanks, Martine

    • Hi Martine,
      I am so glad you wrote and told me how the restringing of your doll legs went! It really does work, doesn’t it?
      I’m so happy you decided to give it a try and I bet your daughter will really be thrilled!
      Thank you,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  14. Thank you for the easy to follow directions with pictures! It works! We found AG Kit at a resale shop yesterday. Her limbs were very loose. I followed your directions last night. And Kit is all better! My daughter thought having Kit’s head come off was hilarious… 😲

    • Hi Laura,
      I’m so glad you got Kit all fixed up! I have a few more dolls that need their legs tightened.
      Thanks for letting me know it was a success!
      Blessings, Jeanne

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