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Seam and Molded Clothing Sanding

Takes some time, but it's totally worth it to get rid of really messy seams and remove any unwanted sculpted details.  To me at least, it makes things look more lively and professional. 

Watch the video below,

or read the written version below that. 

If you are doing any reshaping on the head, especially if you are shrinking it, please visit this page for a tutorial on that here:

You will need:
Xacto blade
a fine round diamond file
medium sandpaper (optional, for if you're sanding the underwear or other large features off)
fine sandpaper
superfine sandpaper
acetone (optional)
q-tips (optional)
small cup of water


Special note: Some bodyparts of dolls (usually the forearms, hands and below the knees) are often some kind of hard vinyl, or a different type of plastic so it sands differently from the regular hard plastic. I usually don't sand those unless the seams are really bad on them. Mostly it just takes longer, but also acetone does not work on them, so you HAVE to use super fine sandpaper to finish them off. Also it's best not to use an xacto blade on them since they are soft to a blade and it's too easy to make mistakes. You also cannot scrape it with the back of the blade like hard plastic. Super cheap plastic will resist sanding and fray instead. 

First off, optional because some people may want to smooth the seams but leave the doll's 3D underwear on? But for those who want to remove the underwear, that section needs a bit of special prep since that pattern is more raised than most seams ever are.

Start off by using the bladed side of an Xacto blade to trim off as much of the underwear texture as you can without putting scratches around the area on the body. The lines are so raised that you'd be using a LOT of sandpaper up if you don't do this, but if you're really not comfortable using a blade on your doll, you can start off with sandpaper. Medium sandpaper is good for trimming without leaving super deep scratch lines, so after trimming as much as you can, (or not at all if you were worried) use medium sandpaper to finish flattening the raised details.

As you are working, rotate the legs so that there is a gap between the section you are working on, and the legs:


You don't have to perform all these steps on every part of the doll. It depends on how bad the seams are. For the tutorial though, I'm going to show a particularly ugly seam that I worked on: 


- Bladed Trimming: This lets you quickly remove large portions of vinyl. Remember to wear goggles! It really hurts if a piece of vinyl flicks into your eye. If you are clumsy like me, you might want to get one of those cut resistant gloves. I have so many little cuts, scars and burns on my hands from craft work. So many less now with that glove! 


- Using the Back of the Blade: You can use the back of the blade to shave along the seams and level it off. If you are not comfortable with this, you can skip to step 3, but shaving like this is faster than going immediately to sanding. 

Diamond File: A fine diamond file makes things smoother than medium sandpaper, but it doesn't always fit in all the areas you want it to, so it can't really be used for the underwear area. A round file is best so you don't accidentally end up sanding any lines into your doll. I keep a cup of water and a paper towel by me to unclog the file. When it is coated in plastic, swish it around in the water, then wipe it off with a paper towel.  


Fine Sandpaper: This should smooth out most of the visible scratches left by previous sanding methods, but will leave a slightly matte fuzzy finish.   

Finishing With Either Acetone or Super Fine Sandpaper:
Because I do full body blushing on all my dolls, at this point I spray a sealant on to prime to doll for painting.


However, if you don't want to do that with yours, you can finish with sanding, acetone or sealant. Acetone can take a bit of practice to perfect the technique on. It melts plastic and evaporates super fast, so the idea is to dip/soak a q-tip in the acetone and run it along the sanded area. This lets the plastic melt just enough for the shallow scratches to disappear and the plastic becomes shiny and smooth. You don't want to press or rub hard or the cotton will start coming off the q-tip and sticking to the doll.


If you are not comfortable with trying the acetone, you can use superfine sandpaper, but that will take a bit longer and doesn't reach the highly polished look that acetone leaves, which you may or may  not want. For many forearms, hands and lower legs, you'll have to do this since they are either hard vinyl or a different kind of plastic that acetone does not work on them.  


Alternatively, you can spray a sealant on the body even if you aren't going to paint it. Super dark colored plastic will look lighter in sanded areas, so you'll need to either spray sealant or smooth with acetone to restore those parts to their original color. 

The End! Congratulations on completing this tutorial! Or scrolling through it at least lol

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