Ever since I got Lindsay, I had been searching for another Mi-Bebe doll that was just like her and had a full head of rooted blonde hair, then finally I found one one day when I was casually surfing eBay. I won Leigha's auction for only eleven dollars. Her auction photos showed how her cloth body was damaged and that her eyes had yellowed terribly so I guess that is why most people were not interested in her and only one other person had bid on her. When she arrived in the mail I saw had her original knitted Mi-Bebe outfit and her synthetic hair was in excellent condition. Her viny limbs were also in very good condition and the vinyl was still very soft and supple. However, her eyes were terribly yellowed and her cloth body was ripped and had some staining so they had to be replaced.
I started by cutting the vinyl on the back of her eye sockets inside of her head and removed her damaged sleep eyes. I measured them and bought her a new pair of doll eyes. I selected some Masterpiece brand half-round eyes in the "Mediterranean Blue" shade. While I waited for her new eyes to arrive in the mail I sewed her a new body from some flesh color soft-sculpture fabric which I had (I bought a whole box of it on eBay some time ago). I carefully removed her head and limbs from her old cloth body and then I scrubbed them thoroughly and washed and conditioned her hair.
I took apart her old cloth body with a seam cutter and made a pattern from the pieces. I altered the pattern a bit, adding "shoulders" and I lengthened the arms slightly. The company (Karsuji Inc.) that manufactured the Mi-Bebe dolls did not include any flanges at the end of the limbs but instead had opted to merely make the dolls of a softer type of vinyl which could then be sewed directly to the cloth doll body (probably in order to save cost in manufacturing) instead. Because of this, it would be tricky to get the doll to be able to be "poseable" as much as I had wanted her to be so I wracked my brain to try to come up with a way to craft some flanges that I could add to her limbs. I had tried to sculpt some from "Sculpy" clay in the past but that did not work out. Supposedly the Sculpy is meant to turn to into a hard plastic after it is baked in the oven and you can make figurines out of it rather well but it was useless for doll parts. The sculpy only turned into a brittle plastic which easily broke when any pressure at all was applied. I had some plastic canvas left over from anoter craft project and so I decided to try making some flanges from that. I cut the plastic canvas into strips which were the right width to fit exactly inside of the top of the doll's limbs when bent into a circle and they were about eight little squares high of the plastic canvas sheet. I then made several strips which were three squares high and two squares longer in length for each extra strip so that when each of the four slim strips were wrapped around the top of the larger strip then each strip would be two squares longer than the one underneath of it. I used four slim strips for each of her legs and two on each of her arms. I used embroidery floss to sew the layers of strips to the top edge of the bottom strip of plastic canvas and then I sewed the finished flanges onto her limbs with some more embroidery floss, adding an extra strip of plastic canvas to the inside of the flange to strengthen it a bit. When I finished making all the flanges, I attached her limbs to the new body with some plastic zip ties.
Her original body had included some stiff foam inserts. however the foam was a bit old and smelly so I decided to make a pattern from them and craft a sort of flat pillow which was the same shape as the insert. I had some poseable doll armature which is the loc-line type of armature and I inserted that down the center of the rolled insert after I stuffed her with the insert. The poseable armature is shaped like a stick figure and has a central "spine" with arms and legs coming off of it. I threaded the arms and legs of the armature down into her arms and legs. Her vinyl is thick enough that the armature does not show through it. Unfortunately the armature did not have a four-way connector at the top and so the armature does not reach all the way up into her head as I would have liked but I can always get different armature at some point in the future if I wish.
Leigha's original eyes were "sleep" eyes which were half-round plastic doll eyes that were fitted into some flat-backed capsule with a weight inside. The eyes inside of their capsule were then similar to full-round doll eyes, however I couldn't find any full round doll eyes in that size so I ordered the Masterpiece brand half-round doll eyes anyway.
Leigha's original eyes had attached eyelashes so when I removed her original eyes she no longer had any eyelashes. When her new eyes arrived in the mail I inserted them and then stuffed the rest of the sockets with paper towels. I had initially thought to stuff them with the Sculpy clay but that turned out to be more difficu;t than I had thought it would be so I ended up just going with the paper toweling for stuffing. Leigha's original eyes had 13mm wide irises but many of the modern plastic doll eyes of any brand tend to have smaller irises. The irises on her new eyes were only about 12mm wide and it is noticable when comparing Leigha with Lindsay. Lindsay's eyes appear larger because less "whites" are showing on her eyes. I had some doll eyelashes but the style that I prefer (a pretty feathery/wispy baby style Kemper eyelash) was not available in blonde and so I only had two sets in medium brown. That style had upper and lower eyelashes which I carefully glued onto Leigha's eyes with some Aleene's craft glue.
When I finished installing her new eyes, I tinted her lips with some very watered-down pink craft paint and then I glossed them with some clear coat varnish.
Here are the photos from Leigha's auction, showing how she originally looked:
Here are some photos showing Leigha's new cloth body and some photos of her left leg, demonstrating the new flanges that I crafted for her limbs from plastic canvas:
very poseable now.
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