Monday, April 17, 2023

The My Twinn Princess Makeovers

I have a complicated and long-term history with My Twinn dolls at this point, which isn't something I would have predicted ten years ago.  In March of 2013, I purchased and reviewed my very first My Twinns.  I had a decent opinion of the dolls back then, but a lot of that had to do with the fact that I found them on a great sale.  I didn't learn much about the history of the brand during that review, nor about the wide range in quality.  My deep dive came a few years later in 2016, when I started the My Twinn Project series.  In those posts, I chronicled my experience with fixing up old, high-quality Denver-era My Twinns, which are much nicer than the dolls I bought in 2013.

My passion for fixing up My Twinns escalated quickly after that, and the dolls started to make more frequent appearances here on the blog...and also started to fill up my house.  I became obsessed with seeking out old dolls with rare faces and skin tones, and the more beat-up they were, the better!  When I decided to take a break from reviewing dolls in 2018, I continued to work on the My Twinns, and even started a separate blog, The My Twin Project Shop, to chronicle my endeavors.  That blog kept me connected to the online doll world, and the dolls gave me a creative outlet and escape during the early, dark days of the pandemic.  It was a bit of a lifeline, frankly.

One of the hardest things about starting this blog up again has been that I no longer have much time to work on My Twinns.  Worse yet, I stopped doing Twinn makeovers before I'd even finished a princess series that was a lot of fun!  So, today I decided to share an overview of my princess project with all of you, and present the last two dolls in the group: the Cinderellas.

Future Cinderella: a Denver-era My Twinn doll with the Lenora face.

The basic idea with the princess project was that I would chose a few well-known princesses (Tiana, Rapunzel, Belle, and Cinderella), and then make two versions of each character: a Disney-inspired version, and a doll themed around the time period when her fairy tale was first published...or some other historically-relevant time.

For example, with the Tiana character, my historical doll is based on the setting for the Disney movie, which is 1920's New Orleans.  The original The Frog Prince fairy tale was actually published in 1812, but I have another princess whose story first appeared in the 1800s, so I chose a different era for Tiana.

Here's the pair of Tiana dolls:

Both dolls have the Tasha face mold.

The historical Tiana is a non-Denver doll from 2005 who came to me in decent shape, with some scuffs on her nose and body, and a lot of dirt on her face.

She has a beautiful, rare, dark vinyl color.

In addition to repainting her face, I gave her a thorough cleaning, replaced her eyes with some sparkling brown glass eyes, and chose a jet-black human hair wig, which I cut and curled:

I used a dark green silk base dress from an online shop called Chrisalem, and heavily-modified it with fringe and beading:

I also added a beaded waistband and headband, both made from vintage 1920s trim:

I love the short curls in Tiana's hair, but I think she looks nice with her hair pulled back, too:

You can read more about Tiana on the other blog if you want.

The Disney-inspired version of Tiana is a Denver doll from 2001 who came to me in good shape, but with a matted wig, fading eyes, and a loose arm:

This girl got all new face paint, some glass eyes, a custom wig, and a thorough cleaning:

To complete the Disney look, she's wearing a gorgeous green dress made by Julie from Fairy Tale Blessings:

I braided her wig at the sides and pulled it into a thick bun:

You can read more about this Tiana here.

The second pair of dolls were the Rapunzels, and I think these two are my favorites of the whole series:

They both have the Denika face mold, which I love because it seems happy.

The historical Rapunzel started as a Denver-era girl from 2001 with faded eyes and scuffed eyebrows:

She got a face-up (with lots of freckles!), new green acrylic eyes, and a super-long wig from Dollmore.  

Rapunzel's outfit was based on the date of publication of the Grimm Brother's version of the Rapunzel story: 1812.  This is a fun time to work with because it falls into the Regency era, when Jane Austin was writing her novels.

Rapunzel's dress is also made by Leah from Chrisalem, and not modified by me at all.

You can read more about the historical Rapunzel here.

The Disney Rapunzel started as a freckle-faced Denver Denika from 2000:

This girl needed new eyes and some more natural-looking lip paint!  

I gave her $90 glass eyes form Hand Glass Craft and a super-long custom wig from Doll of a Kind--created especially for me in this size.  I also made sure that her new face paint had plenty of freckles:

Her dress was made by Julie from Sweet Doll of Mine:

The finishing touch was a complex braid in her hair and dozens of handmade flower clips!

You can read more about the Disney Rapunzel here.

The next princess I chose to represent is Belle.  Here are those two dolls:

Both of them have the Madison face mold.

The historical version of Belle started as a ragged Denver doll from 2000:

She was in dire need of stain removal, cleaning, sanding, and new eyes and hair.

I gave her brown glass eyes, an auburn human hair wig, and some soft face paint with dark brows:

This doll's historical inspiration was the earliest recorded version of Beauty and the Beast, La Belle et la Bête, which is from 1740 and was modified in 1760 to more closely resemble the story we're all familiar with. 

This allowed me to go back in time even further and explore a new century.  Belle's dress is actually based on a 1770 style and was made, yet again, by Leah from Chrisalem:

I styled Belle's gorgeous hair by adding a hair piece that I made from an extra wig (to achieve that 1770s big hair drama!), some ringlets, and lots of rhinestone clips:

Belle is definitely ready for the ball now!

You can read more about historical Belle here.

The Disney-inspired Belle started as a very pale white-bodied Madison from 1997:

She had faded eyebrows, chipped lip paint, and some stains and scuffs on her vinyl.  

She got new glass eyes, a new wavy dark brown wig, and new face paint:

She really started to look like Belle when she donned this lovely yellow ball gown from Fairy Tale Blessings:

I tried to replicate Belle's hairstyle from the movies, but the wig is so long and thick, it was difficult to get it right:

But I love the drama and curl in the hair:

You can read more about the Disney-inspired Belle here.

Those six dolls have all been sold and moved on to new homes.  The only dolls remaining in this series were the two versions of Cinderella, and just as I had started to work on them, I had the brilliant idea to re-boot this blog.  And despite thinking I'd be back to My Twinn makeovers "in a few months," here we are, a year and a half later, and I finally finished the Cinderellas.

I took all of the before pictures of these dolls a long time ago--hence the white plastic backdrop that I used for the My Twinn Project blog.

The first doll that I'm going to show you is the one I used for my historical Cinderella.  She's a 1999 pale Lenora:

She actually came to me in very good shape, with nice artist brows, bright eyes, and a few faint freckles.  Her biggest facial flaw was a large scuff on her nose:

Her vinyl was dirty, but her fabric torso was clean and looked very good for being 24 years old!

Here's her body tag, which is the best way to tell what year she was made:

Her vinyl arms and legs had some scuffs and marks, but these were easy to remove with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser:

I removed the head and pulled off the wig so that I could see what I was dealing with:

Her face was really dirty, and that scuff on her nose had to be sanded down:

I really like these eyebrows, though, and so I decided that I would try to keep them:

The eyes were very pretty, too, but it's hard to clean out all of the dirt and grit around eyes like this without the risk of getting water inside the head (that can cause mold over time).  So I reluctantly decided to remove the eyes.

With the eyes gone, I was able to thoroughly clean the head...which is very satisfying:

I sanded the nose, and removed all of the factory paint...except for the eyebrows!

That looks really weird.
I sprayed the head with a coat of sealant to protect the eyebrows, and then I inserted some new dark blue Hand Glass Craft eyes.

Next, I got to work painting the lips and cheeks:

I gave this doll some very light freckles and a few little beauty marks:

The wig I bought for her, which is a gorgeous custom piece from Doll of a Kind, matches her old eyebrows really well!

Now comes the part where I have to admit that I messed up the historical time period for this doll.  The very first version of the Cinderella tale, Cenerentola, was written in 1634 by Italian author Giambattista Basile.  A more popular French version was written in 1697 by Charles Perrault, and this telling included magical elements and a glass slipper.  

So, I wanted my doll to represent the mid to late 1600s.  This worked well with the rest of the series because I'd been going back in time with each of my historical princesses: 1900s for Tiana, 1800s for Rapunzel, 1700s for Belle...and now 1600s for Cinderella.

However, when I communicated to Leah about the time period for Cinderella's gown, I was a bit too vague, and so we ended up with a more Elizabethan style, which came way before 1697.

Cinderella should probably have worn something like a mantua, which is a style of gown that was popular in the 1670s:

But she's going to be an Elizabethan princess instead.  And it's fine because her dress is beautiful!

Here is Cinderella in her undergarments.  These include a chemise and a bum roll:

The bum roll is historically accurate, but it doesn't fit very well underneath the dress, so it's more for show:

I left Cinderella's hair down for these photos, so that you could get a good look at her wig:

I love her wig so much.
I think the color of the wig compliments her face nicely.

I wish this particular doll didn't have so many wrinkles in her neck seam, though--it's unsightly with the chemise's low neckline:

Here's Cinderella in her dress, with a few braids in her hair:

The outfit also includes a silk headdress with a tulle veil at the back:

Women wouldn't typically wear their hair down like this, though, so I pulled Cinderella's wig back into a low bun for her final look:

The bun-making tool shows a little in the back, but this was the best I could manage.  It was very difficult to get all of the hair around Cinderella's face to lay smooth and flat!  Doll hair styling is definitely not one of my strengths.  I'm glad I didn't live in the Elizabethan era, where hair mattered so much.

The dress itself is actually in two pieces.  There's a gold silk underdress, with puffed sleeves and blue accents:

The blue embroidered silk overdress ties in front with a satin ribbon.  You'll see it tied with the bow at the top in several of my photos, like this:

But the bow is meant to go at the bottom of the bodice, like this:

At one point I was re-dressing Cinderella and got the bow in the wrong place.  My bad.

The detail in this dress is exquisite, with hand-sewn beaded accents on the sleeves, and gold ribbon detailing on all of the blue embellishments:

There are little imperfections here and there, but all of Leah's work is with her own patterns, fueled by her own historical knowledge.  I feel like the gown is a work of art.

Lenora's face mold is pretty serious, so there's a part of me that wishes I'd chosen a different face for this character, but overall I'm happy with how she turned out:

I took Cinderella out into my yard for a few photos in the natural light:

This setting shows off her pale skin tone nicely.

And I think being outside makes her look a little bit happier, too.

I would not let Cinderella explore into the grassy areas of my yard, even though she was eager to go look for flowers.  That gown is too beautiful, and I was terrified that it would get dirty!

Instead, I picked some flowers and brought them back for Cinderella to inspect.

Here's one last portrait of this royal beauty:

The Disney-inspired Cinderella also started off as a pale Denver Lenora doll.  This one came to me in worse shape than the last, though:

Her wig was a fright, and her eyes had faded to an eerie pink:

Her body is from 2000, and has a few picks and stains from being 23 years old:

The hardest things to remove were what looked like tan paint marks on her arms and legs:

I had to pick all of these off individually with my fingernails.

This poor doll also has some very minor animal bites on the tips of a few fingers:

I was able to scrub away most of the scuffs and paint spots on the vinyl, and I spot-cleaned the fabric torso.  Unfortunately, there isn't anything to be done about the bite marks, but they're very small and easy to miss.

I removed Cinderella's head and wig and got ready for her makeover!

The wig left behind a huge amount of dark, ugly old glue that I had to scrape away:

These eyebrows are pretty nice, but I wanted them to be lighter for this particular doll:

I removed the old pink eyes and started to clean the vinyl:

I uncovered several scuffs and areas of missing paint:

So, I sanded the face, stripped away all of the old paint, and coated the head with a thin layer of sealant:

Next, I gave Cinderella some pale blue Lauscha glass eyes:

And some blonde eyebrows:

In retrospect, the blonde eyebrows might have been a mistake.  Both the live action Cinderella and the original animated character have darker brows, which might have looked better on this doll.  For some reason, though, I decided to lean into the paleness of the vinyl and make a fair-featured girl.

She got soft blushing and full lips, with no freckles whatsoever:

This doll's wig is more yellow than the historical Cinderella's hair.  The color choice is a nod to Disney's animated version of the character:

However, the dress I chose is based on the live action Cinderella movie.  It is pale blue with a full, iridescent skirt and butterfly accents around the neck:

I tried to replicate the twisted hairstyle that's used in the movie, too, although I'm not sure how successful this was:

Under her dress, Cinderella is wearing white tights and some vintage My Twinn shoes that were as close to glass slippers as I could find!

The shoes have yellowed a bit with age and I had to glue the soles of the heels back in place.

I added a little rhinestone band to the top of Cinderella's hairdo, and put some decorative bobby pins at the sides of her head to help hold the ponytails in place:

Here's a closer look:

I originally intended to make Cinderella's gown myself, and so I shopped around for the perfect fabrics and accents.  However, as life got more and more busy for me, I turned to Julie from Fairy Tale Blessings for help out--once again.  She agreed to take my fabric and my design ideas and make the dress of my dreams.  I think she did an incredible job, too--especially because she had to create the pattern for this dress from scratch.

The only thing I added to the dress are the little butterflies around the neck.  They are glued in place with Fabri-Tac.

When I purchased the little butterfly accents for the dress, there were a few larger butterflies included in my order as a gift.  Cinderella adopted one of them as her special pet:

My grey background does not flatter the bright blue of Cinderella's dress (or the yellow in her hair), so I took her outside into my yard:

This is a more accurate look at her pale coloring:

I don't usually like to put My Twinn dolls in clothing that exposes their fabric body, but in this case I felt that Cinderella's dress had to have that distinctive low neck.  And thankfully, the color match between her vinyl and fabric parts is pretty good.

Cinderella insisted that her butterfly friend join us outside:

I was worried that he might decided to flutter away...

But he stayed faithfully by Cinderella's side.

Update: I had a few requests to photograph the two Cinderellas together.  I'm not sure why I didn't do that the first time around!  Sorry.  Here you go:

It feels great to have finally finished this fun series, and of course I loved working on two Cinderella dolls. I'm still toying with the idea of darkening the Disney Cinderella's eyebrows, but I probably won't because, knowing me, that could easily end up ruining her face to the point where I have to start all over again.  In any case, the pale brows look better in real life than they do in photos.

Thank you so much to those of you who followed along with me over on the My Twinn Project Shop blog for several years, and thank you especially for being patient as I finished up these last two dolls.  They will be for sale in the Virtual Garage Sale store, which you can find in a tab at the top of the page.

These My Twinn dolls have definitely wormed their way into my heart over the years.  Try as I may, I can't seem to get them out of my system.  So, despite being busy with doll reviews, I'm going to make the effort to sneak some My Twinn makeovers back into my life.  I hope you'll indulge me every once in a while when I share my new creations here.


  1. Finally!!!!! The Cinderella’s are finished!!! They are both gorgeous and stunning and so adore them. My life feels so finished now :) just so so happy to see them! I love the dress on the new Cinderella 😍

    1. Thank you so much!! And thank you for being SO patient!! ❤️

  2. They are so beautiful! You don't need change this eyebrows, it's perfect on her. I love all your custom dolls!

    1. Thank you very much, Lilium. The eyebrows are growing on me. I'm glad you like the dolls after the long wait!

  3. It's so great to see you get to finish the Princess project! I loved following you along on the My Twinn blog, but it's even more exciting to see them back "home" here. The historical Cinderella reminds me of Drew Barrymore in Ever After, if that makes you feel better about the time period mix up!

    1. Thank you, Kenzie! Ever After is perhaps my favorite movie of all time, so your comment made me very happy! I definitely feel better. :)

  4. Yay for more MyTwinn posts! I really missed them when you started up your blog again...almost as much as I missed your main blog itself. We are but such fickle minded creatures, aren't we? ;D

    Both those gowns are stunning, and the girls came out gorgeous, as always.

    I'm not sure how much this helps on a doll-size scale, but a Youtuber I follow did a tutorial on how she did her hair for the 2015 Cinderella look:

    1. Thank you, Esther! I'm sorry that the My Twinn posts disappeared for so long. I really never intended to take such a long break! Now I feel inspired again. :)

      I watched a few tutorials before I attempted that hairdo (although not the one you linked--that looks good!), and the wig is actually thick enough for many of the techniques to work, but somehow it never looks quite the same as it does on a human.

  5. They are stunning! I love my Arya doll that you had customized; I am always happy to see your My Twin creations! You do a great job making them into your own works of art. -SarahKoala

  6. I'm so glad to see the makeovers return! And you left the most interesting ones for last! I really like the first one. Her eyebrows are more severe compared to your style, so she looks more mature and less doll-like. I'm not a Disney fan and the brightly coloured Disney princesses are always going to be at the bottom of my favourite character designs. However you and Julie did a wonderful job recreating the style, and I think the natural eyebrows are a good choice for a child. I was hoping for pictures of both together and the transformation gifs, but hey - it's already super great that you've picked up this project!

  7. It's great to see the princess conclusion and meet the Cinderella dolls! I think the eyebrows look fine as they are, especially in the outdoor photos.
    Out of curiosity, if you remove the original eyes are they no longer useable? Just since you mentioned doing it reluctantly on the historical girl. I can't recall if the process ruins turn, since the ones I've replaced were badly faded.

  8. I was amazed at how much the different lighting changed Historical Cinderella's expression! She was meant to be shown outside. Thanks for your writing and photos. I'm happy to read anything you write about dolls, modern or vintage, bought or made. I hope one day you'll be able to share with us the baby doll faces you sculpted yourself.

  9. Please don't apologise for showing this kind of thing on your blog - it's so much fun to read! And you're very talented at this - the freckling you've done is especially impressive. :D

  10. WAIT! No picture of the two of them together?!?!! I was waiting desperately for that! please please please take a photo of them together before you send them away. *sad puppy eyes*

    Both of those dresses are spectacular, and that wig on the historic Cinderella really is gorgeous. I think every doll in this series turned out great. (those pink eyes might give me nightmares, though!)

  11. I do not like My Twinn dolls as a rules but your "afters" are amazing!! I'm so glad to see you taking this blog up again. I found you again in a search for a Monst doll review recently .

  12. Yaaaay! I love a good dolly makeover, your My Twinn dolls have all been gorgeous works of art. Looking forward to the next time one of these makeovers appears on the blog. :) - Cink

  13. im so excited to see your mytwinn work again. i fell down a rabbit hole about the mold making process for these gals primarily because of your makeover blog! cuddly twinns have become a holy grail of my collection. i (among others im sure) are happy to oblige having mytwinn makeovers back, if only every once and a while. thanks for your hard work! -rachel

  14. Wow!! This is a side of your doll hobby I didn't know about and am happy I got to see!! I love the blog, of course, but really enjoyed seeing these dolls and hearing about the creative process behind them. I would be quite interested if you chose to feature more of your My Twinn project dolls on this blog in the future. I don't collect this scale so I learn a lot when you feature them and get to live vicariously through the gorgeous dress and wig pictures...!! And it is just lovely to see your own work and collaborating creators' work that goes into making these dolls both restored and unique.

    I really liked the choice of the fair eyebrows for the Disney-inspired Cinderella. I feel that it suited her vinyl tone very well and matched her wig. For that particular doll it was a good choice. I don't think going "off model" is a bad thing if it results in a doll that evokes the right mood in the end, after all many official dolls inspired by the Disney character change a few details here and there. I also thought your choices for eye replacements were very well selected and really made the characters come to life. Thanks for the cool post.

  15. Aaah it takes me so long to find time to read the blog nowadays. I hope to finish my thesis soon so I can get back to doing fun stuff haha :c

    You're honestly a magician with these dolls. Every single one of them looks like an exclusive art doll after the makeover. They're all just so stunning, I would've probably kept them all hahaha! Your face paint skills are immaculate, I love how they all look so soft, sweet and natural when you're done with them. And you're definitely better at doll hair styling than you give yourself credit for. All the outfits are such beautiful works of art as well, you couldn't have made better choices when choosing and modifying them! All in all, very fun to read about the whole makeover process :)

  16. Thank you everyone for your kind comments! And sorry for the delay in posting these dolls for sale. They'll be in the shop after I finish the review I'm working on--probably tomorrow or Wednesday. :)

  17. Wonderful to see the completion of this series! (This is Hannah who sent you the doll you used for Beauty from Beauty and the Beast). You've done such an amazing job with every doll in the series. Thank you for sharing your art with us!

  18. Emily, that historical Cinderella is one your best creations ever. So gorgeous and expressive. You did a terrific job on her face paint. That wig is fantastic. The dress is fabulous. And yes, she did look happier in the sunlight. I absolutely love her. What a wonderful doll! You really are talented.

    Ah, and I remember when you first started posting My Twinns back in the day. I had zero interest in ever owning one, but always enjoyed your makeovers, and soon found myself fascinated by the plethora of face molds. Years later, during your hiatus from this blog, I was following along with the projects you did elsewhere, and I don't recall which doll it was that got to me, but I suddenly realized, I need a My Twinn! So I spent weeks, maybe months narrowing in on my favorite face, and had a sort of checklist of other features I wanted her to have, and eventually found my perfect fit. A Denver-era Catherine/Ashley(?) in great shape, clear sparkly eyes, nice natural face paint. She's just a joy. Thank you for introducing these dolls to me, and for sharing your work with all of us. These posts are always so fun to read, and I'm so proud of you for finishing your princess series.

  19. So gorgeous! And even though I know the historical Cinderella's time period was a mistake, the Elizabethan dress reminds me of another famous Cinderella- Drew Barrymore's character in Ever After! Again, that movie was the late fifteenth century but I can't help making comparisons.

  20. It makes me so happy, seeing you do doll make-overs that bring you joy! I definitely hope you'll do more in the future :) This was such a cool idea for a project, and you and your costume maker did a beautiful job on every doll.

  21. Hello from Italy ^^
    I just discovered your blog, these days, and I wanted to congratulate you for your reviews.
    About this serie restyling, they are so beautiful and well recreated in their historical era, but I think that my favorite are Belle with that sumptuous 1700 dress and hair, and the historical Rapunzel, because I love her freckes and hair colour

  22. I really enjoyed this post. Anyway you can include the little mermaid( Ariel) and Jasmine in the future?