November Tip of the Month: Storing, Packing and Transporting Dolls: Part One

This month and possibly next month we’re going to talk about storage and packing. Sometimes we need to store our dolls because we are decorating, moving house or maybe there is no longer enough room for the whole collection to be displayed at once.

When I moved to Tasmania from South Australia in 2002 I had only been collecting dolls for a couple of years. It was not that difficult a job to pack them all. My main concern was for the safety of my older dolls like Christine and Theresa and one or two other fragile dolls. Now that the collection has grown so much moving them is going to be a very big deal.

Big dolls and baby dolls.

I am going to be doing some research on this subject for my own benefit and will share what I learn here.

Fashion Dolls

Quite a lot of my dolls are stored all the time, the fashion dolls for example. I use plastic storage tubs and plastic drawer units which I think are fine for storage at home but possibly not ideal for transporting dolls as they tend to break with rough handling. I will discuss this with the removalist. The dolls might be OK if the tub broke but I’d run the risk of losing tiny shoes and bags. It’s not a risk I want to take. I can lose doll shoes quite well on my own.

Some people say that it is better to store dolls naked while others say that they have had no problem storing them dressed. I have a combination of both dressed and undressed. I do know of one or two outfits in my stash that do leave stains on dolls and I am careful not to leave these on a doll for too long. When I bought my tubs inside to photograph the dolls recently everyone was fine despite having been packed and stored for a year. I pack the dolls in rows and layer tissue paper between them. If their shoes do fall off I know they will be in the bottom of the tub.

Two things to ask yourself if storing dolls dressed:

  • Will dye from clothing or shoes stain the doll?
  • Will you lose the above-mentioned shoes and accessories?

I am pretty sure that my drawer units will not be good to transport dolls in so I will dismantle them for moving. The dolls can probably stay in the drawers and be packed into a larger box with the shelf units and castors packed separately.

Cloth bodied Dolls

My cloth bodied dolls and the few soft toys I own have been packed for some time already. The main concern with these dolls is insects and of course damp. No dolls should be stored in damp conditions.

Porcelain and other fragile dolls

I have a few porcelain, composition and celluloid dolls amongst my collection so I was particularly interested in the best way to pack these. There is a very good article about this on the Ruby Lane blog which was written by a doll dealer. It has a lot of good advice about packaging material and the best way to pack a doll for shipping. I will include a link at the end.

When we moved here the dolls I was most worried about were Sophia, my large cloth bodied doll whose head I think is composition, Loretta, an early Italian hard plastic walker and my childhood dolls, Christine and Theresa. I was especially worried about Theresa because she has a crack on her hard plastic head. I packed these dolls in old suitcases surrounded by things like towels and material from my sewing stash. Theresa’s head was encased in bubble wrap like a helmet as was Sophia’s.

Now, of course, we have Shirley Temple, Posie Walker, Marilyn the Pedigree Walker, Caroline the BND Walker, Ideal Goody Two Shoes, John and Elizabeth the Celluloid dolls and various other dolls that will need careful packing. I do have a lot of old suitcases but I’m not sure that they will be the best method to transport them as almost everything will have to go on the truck. All these dolls will be encased in bubble wrap and whatever container they are packed into will have the gaps filled with packing beans to prevent them from moving around and hurting themselves.

My collection of small, mostly hard plastic dolls in historical or national costumes will be wrapped in bubble wrap too and packed tightly in a suitably sized box as will the dolls house furniture and accessories. I think that the dolls houses will need to go into large boxes to protect them so I can pack the boxes containing the dolls house furniture and dolls inside the rooms.

Vinyl Dolls

While these dolls are a bit sturdier I will still be careful to pack them, if not wrapped individually, then at least in rows with layers of bubble wrap between them. Of course, all the boxes will be labelled so I can get the dolls out once I have reassembled their drawers and shelves.

Packing Tips

  • Storing dolls clean reduces the risk of damage from insects.
  • Clothing and doll bedding can be wrapped in acid-free tissue paper and stored in sealed plastic bags.
  • Vinyl dolls should not be stored in sealed plastic bags.
  • Don’t wrap dolls in a newspaper as the ink may transfer to the dolls.
  • Don’t let dolls come into prolonged contact with wood.
  • Label your boxes, it will help with unpacking.
  • When packing fragile dolls wrap the head, hands and feet in bubble wrap before wrapping the entire doll.


In next month’s post, I’ll tell you about my own packing experiences and whether the dolls and I survived the move.

Further Reading



  1. I would also suggest if you have doll houses to pack socks or something soft inside each room to stop fittings like interior doors from moving and getting broken off. Remove opening and closing windows and other removable fixtures on your house. Otherwise these should be secured so they are not damaged or lost. Choose good strong boxes and good packing materials. When I moved from South Australia to Tasmania which seems like an eternity ago I decided that my most precious items would travel in the car with me rather than have them on the truck. I was glad I did as my things were sent by rail and some stuff was broken when it arrived. I was not told it would go on a freight truck so I was not happy. I also suggest to do your own packing to be sure it is done properly. I also noted that nothing I packed myself got broken, only stuff by so called professional movers was broken so there you go. The Royal Albert china will be going by car next moving day too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I always store my dolls clothed, but without shoes and accessories, they are kept separate so I don’t lose them. I’ve never liked storing dolls naked. Even as children, my sister and I kept our dolls dressed at all times and redressed them before playing with them. The girls are also kept separate from the guys. (Think Toy Story or midnight! They need to be clothed lol)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have to admit that my guys mostly reside in a different drawer from the girls. I remember how often we would spend a couple of hours just changing outfits before we did anything else. Same with our paper dolls. You’d open the box and everyone was dressed for a party from the last time they were played with so they’d have to be redressed.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. But then there was the small cardboard box for lost items of clothing for the paper dolls. It would take ages of sorting to find who some of the homemade stuff belonged to since I always made everyone at least one pair of black pants and blue jeans. I never thought to write names on the back in those days. So in the case of paper doll clothes put them away once you have finished playing with them.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for the excellent post, links to articles and everyone’s comments on their packing experiences. It is all very helpful to me as I need to get my dolls and their accessories/props packed.

    Liked by 1 person

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