Monday, November 10, 2008

How I saved Sweet Sue

One of my favorite early hard plastic dolls is the 14-inch flat-footed Sweet Sue by American Character. (The company later turned her into a fashion doll called Sweet Sue Sophisticate, and then renamed her Toni.) I like the strung dolls and the early walkers the best.

This particular doll is all original and wearing one of my favorite Sweet Sue outfits. Check out her pretty matching bloomers and her original center snap shoes:

Of course, she wasn't this perfect when she came to me — like many of my dolls, she needed a little fixing up to make her look this pretty.

First of all, when I got Sweet Sue her hair appeared to be a mess, with curls everywhere. I had seen this doll before, though, and I knew her hair was meant to be in curly pigtails tied with rose-colored grosgain ribbon. Luckily for me, I was able to find almost an exact match at our local fabric store. Her hair actually wasn't that mussed, and I was able to separate it into pigtails without combing or restyling the original curls.

Unfortunately, Sweet Sue needed more than just a couple of hair ribbons. When I first undressed her I was horrified to discover a seam split along each shoulder. As I examined her, I realized what had caused it: Her arms (she is a walker) had been strung with a spring at the factory, which had probably stiffened up over time. Now, it was so tight that it was putting too much pressure on the arm sockets, causing the shoulders to separate at the seams.

Of course, the first thing I did was to remove the spring and restring her arms with regular cord elastic. I strung them a touch on the loose side, to prevent doing any further damage to her poor shoulder seams. The split in the seams went away almost completely — all you can see now is a little hairline separation.

Sweet Sue's rescue story ought to show how useful it is to be able to restring dolls yourself. If I hadn't been able to fix Sweet Sue, her shoulder splits could have relegated a lovely, all original doll to the rubbish pile!

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