Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Bad Makeover Millie

Today I have the last sister pair of My Twinn dolls to share with you!  I'm not sure I saved the best for last, but I certainly saved my personal favorite pair for last.  I hope you like them, too!

The big girl in this set is a 1999 Danielle in wonderful condition.  I bought her ages ago, so I don't have any pictures of her original appearance.  I can tell you that she was very, very cute in her auction photos (enough for me to way overbid on her...) with big brown eyes and what looked like red hair.  In person, though, her brown eyes had too much red in them.  They weren't a warm chocolate brown like I'd hoped, but more of a fiery demonic brown.  Also, her hair was not red.  Auburn at best--but mostly chestnut brown.

But no big deal, right?  I swap out doll eyes and wigs in my sleep, and Danielle has a wonderful face mold.  So, after some angsty deliberation about messing with a pristine Denver My Twinn doll, I decided to swap out her eyes (to Secrist's Tiger Brown), straighten and condition her wig, give her some freckles...and then sell her.  This is one of the photos I took for her eBay auction:

Repainted 1999 My Twinn Danielle.
To be fair to the original eBay seller, my photos make Danielle's original hair look reddish, too.  It isn't.

But the new poker straight hair combined with poofy bangs was definitely not an improvement, nor were the eyes that I chose.  I've had one or two dolls look good in these particular eyes, but for some reason they're risky, and can make a doll's expression really vacant.


I might as well show you some more of her auction photos while we're at it:

Not my best work.
This is the picture I use for reference on my restoration techniques page, to demonstrate how poker-straight hair can get after boil washing:

I don't know exactly why this makeover was such a failure.  I think it's a combination of the strange hair and the vacant eyes.

The Danielle mold can be so cute when it's done right, but there's also a bit of an alien quality to the facial features, and so a bad makeover can be really bad.

Take me to your leader...
Her body came to me in great shape and is still in great shape, though.  She has some squeaks in her armature, but her cloth torso is very clean with only a handful of small picks.

I listed Danielle for sale briefly on eBay (at a really low price), but she had no bidders and no watchers, so I gave up and stashed her away in one of my doll bins.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago.  I was looking for the perfect doll to pair with the Cuddly Sister I'd bought for this set, and Danielle's face mold and vinyl coloring suddenly seemed perfect!  So, Danielle came out of storage and went back to the work table for another makeover attempt.

For her new look, she also needed a new name.  Since my family and I were watching Stranger Things 3 at the time, I decided on Millie (after Millie Bobby Brown) although (spoilers!) she ended up looking much more like Max.

The first thing I did was remove her brown eyes and replace them with my current favorites: Eyeco's A251 acrylic eyes.

The bald head and buggy eyes don't immediately do Millie any favors, but bear with me.

I also added in some red coloring to Millie's eyebrows--in anticipation of a red wig.

I actually have to reveal which wig I chose pretty early in this post, which is a deviation from my normal routine.

Maybe it was in response to the poker-straight, non-red wig from the previous makeover, but I decided that Millie should have bright red curly hair.  For this, the best option I've found is Monique's Donna wig.  Here's the promotional photo of that wig:

It's very long and very curly!
I've never noticed anything unconventional about the construction of the Donna wig before.  This time I guess I was paying a bit more attention, though, because I noticed something very strange.

See if you can identify the strangeness:

Spot the asymmetry.
For anyone not familiar with the inside of a wig, or having trouble spotting the issue, I've drawn a line through the middle of the wig (along the center part):

You'd think the two sides would be the same.
The issue is that on the left side of the wig, there are staggered wefts sewn in along the hairline, covering the elastic band on the edge of the wig cap:

As it should be.
But the right side of the wig is completely missing this layer of hair:

Why, Monique?  Why??
This weird construction means that when the wig is on a doll, the hair looks thin (and the wig cap is visible) when the hair on the right side of the doll's face is pulled up into any kind of hairstyle.  The hair on the left side looks great.  I find this unacceptable.

I assumed that this was an isolated defect and set about requesting an exchange from Monique.  

For some reason, though, I decided to check the other Donna wigs I have in the house (I have three of them, all in different sizes), and they all look exactly like this.

Since an exchange would be useless, I decided to take apart my oldest Donna wig and do some weft transplants onto Millie's wig so that the two sides of the hairline look the same:

Now that's symmetry.
I tacked the hair in place with thread and then secured it with a line of glue.

I really don't want to have to buy two Donna wigs every time I need to use one, though.  My weft donor wig will be good for a few more transplants, but after that I'm done with this style of wig.  It's really disappointing.

The wig isn't of fantastic quality, either.  It's pretty thin, and the hair can be hard to tame.  It'd be a terrible wig for kids to play with.  However, the wig gave me exactly the look I wanted for Millie.  The only problem was that the new wig made Millie's old freckles seem too faint.  

So, I cleaned off her face (leaving the mole near her nose) and applied some new blush:

And a lot more freckles!

At this stage, I got permanently fed up with my old point-and-shoot Cannon camera and decided to switch over to using my iPhone.  The iPhone pictures are missing some detail (I need to get a macro lens) but at least everything doesn't look dark with yellow and green overtones.  I've been color correcting the older pictures, but it's really time-consuming and imperfect.

The freckles show up best in the older pictures, so I'd recommend looking at those shots if you want to get the best sense for what the freckles are like.

Here's Millie with her face completed, and the new brighter look from my phone camera:

While Millie was undergoing her transformation, I was also working on her mini me, who I call Quinn.

This is how Quinn looked when I first started working on her (we have to go back to the old camera here for a bit--sorry):

Quinn was in the worst shape of all the Cuddly Sisters in this series, but she also has a less common (and my personal favorite) face mold. I think that her expression matches Millie's really well.  They're both pretty serious!

Quinn's cloth body had a lot of brown stains, and her vinyl parts were also scuffed and marked.

She had a thick dark brown wig and fading blue eyes:

She also had a white substance stuffed up her nose and in her ears.  I have no idea what the substance is, but I kept thinking about toothpaste.  Not that I ever put toothpaste in my nose when I was little.  Definitely not.  Who would do that??

Anyway, I think this doll was named Rachel by the My Twinn company:

I cleaned Quinn's cloth body with a mild bleach solution and was able to lessen the staining.  I also removed her wig and saved it for a potential future project.  I needed another Donna wig for this particular makeover.

Here's a close-up of Quinn's face without the wig:

She had some missing paint on her right cheek, several shiny spots all over her head, and stains on the sides of her face--some dark smudges and a few light pink areas.  

The stains are hard to see in photographs, but they were definitely noticeable in real life.  She just looked really dirty.

I slathered some Remove-Zit onto the stained parts of Quinn's right cheek and let it sit for about a week:

While the Remove-Zit was doing its thing, I also enhanced Quinn's eyebrows with some of the same reddish paint I used for Millie's brows:

Once the Remove-Zit had done its job and was washed away, I replaced Quinn's faded eyes with another pair of Eyeco A251s:

Here's a look at the cleaned-up cheek:

It's hard to see a difference in the photographs, but the Remove-Zit definitely worked.

I did, however, miss some very faint pink stains on the opposite side of Quinn's face.  These are super subtle:

I cleaned out Quinn's nose and ears, and then started to add some new blush:

And a bunch of freckles:

Here's Quinn with her completed face...captured by the iPhone camera (which makes her looks slightly more startled than she is):

I stitched new wefts of hair along the right wide of Quinn's wig, too.  I thought I'd taken a picture of that, but I guess not.

Quinn's wig has some glue residue showing at the top of the head.  The wig cap on this wig is lacy, and so excess glue can leak through into the hair.  I tried to remove most of this excess, but it's still visible when the hair falls a certain way:

Here's the same spot with the hair brushed back in place:

I also gave both Millie and Quinn's hair a trim.  The Donna wig is unnecessarily long, and is a bit easier to control after a few inches have been removed from the length.

Here's Millie all put together:


With the tag showing that she's from 1999:

Like many dolls from 1999, Millie has a squeaking armature, but the noise is mild and I only notice it when I'm doing a lot of posing.

There are very few picks on her back:

Here's how the back of the Donna wig looks after my haircut:

If the hair were ever straightened, the cut probably wouldn't look even, but it looks fine with all of the curls!

Now here's little Quinn with her body put back together (and a few extra pellets added in):

She's much cleaner than she was when I got her, but it's still possible to see remnants of the stains on her cloth body.

Quinn also has several small ink marks, scuffs, and shiny spots on her vinyl limbs.  The most noticeable marks are on the backs of her feet:

Here are Millie and Quinn together, waiting to see what color outfit they'll get!

I'd actually been saving this purple dress in case there was another redhead in this collection.  I love how red hair looks with dark purple!

I'm sad to be using the last of these colorful summer outfits from Carole, though.

I think Millie likes her outfit, too!

I brushed Millie's hair before the photo session, but I didn't work very hard to keep it neat as I was posing her.  She has wild hair, and I wanted the pictures to be accurate!

A note about the darker colored dresses in this collection: now that I've seen how nicely these dresses wash out, I'd recommend washing them before leaving them on a doll for long periods of time.  With the darker dresses like Millie's, I might even soak the dress in warm water for a bit to release some of the extra color.

I washed Trunk Sale Sadie's pink dress in cold water and then took it out of the dryer as soon as it was dry to the touch.  This worked beautifully.  Also, it's super-important to close the velcro before you start washing, otherwise the fabric can get badly snagged!

Millie's dress matches the hat beautifully.  I didn't want to take the hat off!

I did eventually have to take the hat off, though, so that I could show you the wig in more detail.

As I mentioned before, it's a fairly thin wig, and the curls and frizz make it difficult to tame!

Why would you want to tame it though, Emily?
This is about as under control as I could get Millie's hair:

I actually like the hair best when it's pulled back at the sides, though. This shows off all of the wonderful curls to their best advantage:

And it shows off the extra wefts in the wig, too!

Finally, here's Millie's comparison GIF!

Keep in mind that this is two different cameras at work, so the differences in coloring are exaggerated.  Millie does not have ultra-pale coloring.  She's a typical 02 or 03 like Sadie.

I'm glad that I didn't give up on this doll way back when I attempted her makeover for the first time. I just love her now, and feel like she was meant to be paired with little Quinn!

Speaking of Quinn...

She got a dark purple tee shirt to match Millie's dress!

Quinn's hair looks really cute when it's pulled back, too:

Especially if she's sitting in my hand and looking at me with those big eyes!

Here are some portraits of Millie and Quinn together:

I'm not including a doll stand with this set (the stands I have are nowhere near the right size) but it's fun to use a doll stand on the Cuddly dolls so that they can strike a wider variety of poses:

These little ones seem to prefer lounging around with no stand most of the time, though, if you ask me.

So, that's the end of my adventure into fixing up My Twinn Cuddly Sisters!  I'll probably try to find a few more of them some day, though, because I've become pretty obsessed with those cute little faces.

In this pair, Quinn actually required more work than Millie.

Here's a summary of all the work that I did on Millie...the second time around:
-I re-cleaned all of her vinyl with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
-I gave her new Eyeco A251 green acrylic eyes
-I enhanced her eyebrow paint and gave her new blush and more freckles
-I gave her new eyelashes
-I modified her new Monique Donna wig by sewing extra wefts along the right side of the wig and trimming the length by about 3 inches.
-I gave her a dress and hat made by Doll Clothes by Carole.

Millie is in great condition.  Her biggest flaws are that she has some mild squeaking in her armature, and also that the new wig I gave her (while it looks great in photos) does not have a silky texture and is a little thin.

And here's everything that was done to Quinn:
-I cleaned her vinyl parts with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
-I emptied the pellets from her body and spot-cleaned the fabric with a mild bleach solution
-I re-filled the body with plastic pellets (adding a few extra)
-I removed a dark stain on her face with Twin Pines of Maine's Remove-Zit
-I sanded down some scuffs on her right cheek
-I replaced her eyes with Eyeco A251 green acrylic eyes
-I repainted her face, including freckles and eyebrows but excluding lips.
-I gave her new eyelashes
-I modified her new Monique Donna wig by adding wefts to the right side and cutting off about two inches of length.
-I gave her a tee shirt and shorts outfit from Doll Clothes by Carole.

Quinnie's biggest flaws are that she still has some stain remnants on her cloth body, and she still has some small marks and scuffs on her vinyl limbs.  Her wig is also thin, and shows some glue at the top of the head.

Each of my sets of sister dolls has their own unique mix of assets and flaws.  I wouldn't say it was easy for me to pick a favorite from the bunch, but I do have a soft spot for this pair of serious, freckle-faced redheads.  I just love having them around!

Millie & Quinn have sold!  Thank you so much!


  1. Too cute! I think Millie's new makeover is a huge improvement on her old look. I think thick pie bangs tend to not be particularly flattering on most dolls.

    Also, an alternative to boil washing wigs is steaming them. I let a damaged/dry wig soak in a 50/50 water/fabric softener mix overnight, rinse, comb out the tangles, and let it dry. I then use a plastic steamer (for clothes) and a fine-toothed comb to smoothen the particularly frizzy areas. It doesn't make the hair as glossy as a boil wash, but it allows you to preserve the original texture (ie slight curl on the ends). I'm also careful to not steam and straighten the ends. I'm just not a fan of the "poker straight" hair.

    1. Hi Cami! Thank you for the tip--and for the details about how to actually do the fabric softener technique! I should definitely try that on some of my wigs. I just love boil washing, though, because it works to sterilize the wigs, too, which in some cases is a really nice benefit! :) Also, boiling doesn't leave behind any residue. But yeah...I need to try another method, especially if there are bangs or, like you said, a nice texture that I don't want to ruin. I have a few black dolls with their original wigs, and I would *really* like to restore those wigs without losing the lovely texture of the hair!
      I also totally, 100% agree about pie bangs. Ugh. ;)

  2. I just love Quinn's little face. The other Cuddly Sisters looked a little too excited for my tastes, but in this case I actually like Quinn's face more than Millie's. What a wonderful mold! Here's hoping you'll have the opportunity to tackle more Cuddlies in the future.

    1. I like Quinn's face the best of all the Cuddlies, too, that's for sure! I felt similarly to you about some of the other faces at first (I still don't like the grouchy/sad face mold very much) but they've really grown on me! All dolls tend to grow on me over time, though, so that's not saying much! ;D

  3. Emily,
    When I attempted to follow The My Twinn Project Shop via email using the gadget on the sidebar, a notification popped up saying that 'the feed does not have subscriptions by email enabled'. I just wanted you to know.
    Signed, Treesa

    1. Hi Treesa--thank you so much for letting me know! I'm not sure what's up with that. I investigated a little and then tried subscribing myself. The popup window made me click a button to show I'm not a robot, but otherwise it seems to have worked. Maybe I changed something and now it works? I hope so! Sorry for the inconvenience! Please let me know if you still have trouble.

    2. The 'follow by email' gadget appears to be working now, or at least it worked for me. Thanks for looking into it.
      Signed, Treesa


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