Monday, March 21, 2016

Collection Storage, Display and Organization, Part 2: Dolly Must-haves

Hi guys!

Welcome to the second part of this month’s Collection Storage, Display and Organization, featuring ... Dolly Must-haves! Last week, we learned several working storage systems for our DOLLS that were lovingly shared by our contributors. Today, we will learn how our fashion doll collector friends tame the other beast – the wardrobe, accessories and the miniature/diorama items that their dolls cannot “live” without! This section of doll collecting is just as huge as maintaining a doll collection itself, especially for the fashion doll collector who likes to style, photograph and make photo/video stories about their doll characters. Sometimes, we think that we need more space for our collection storage, but really, a simple but well-thought out organizational system is all that we need. So come join us as we hop from one doll closet to another, and discover new ways that might just help us come up with our own system of keeping our own dolls’ closets organized and hassle-free.

At a glance, at least for most of our dolly friends, dolly must-haves are sorted into the following major categories: doll clothing, shoes / footwear, jewelry, bags, hats and other head-worn accessories, diorama items and other essentials. But do continue to read on to know how and why they segregate their doll must-haves this way, and what storage solutions work best for each of these.

In organizing doll must-haves, our doll friends like to primarily separate the dolls’ clothes from everything else as the clothes themselves quite need their own organization, too. Organizing doll clothing into different categories such as clothing type, use or function, style, or as an ensemble/set, and sometimes, per designer, gender and size helps them a lot to find what they need come photo shoot or doll play time. The most popular storage solutions for doll clothing include plastic drawer-type containers, plastic bins and air-tight plastic bags for separating each clothing category.

Arianne's doll clothing, sorted and stored in a multiple-drawer container
For Arianne, dresses, tops, skirts, pants, summer and sleep wears, costumes and Ken's clothes have to be kept separately so she can find the perfect match for a photo shoot immediately. She puts them in a drawer-type container with multiple compartments, ideal for sorting.

Edel likes to separate doll clothes by type, such as pants, t-shirts, jackets, among others, in separate zipper plastic bags. He has some Helmer drawers from IKEA to keep all the doll clothing safe and clean. 

Vana is also a fan of plastic drawer containers, where her doll clothes are placed and sorted by their manufacturers or designers. She has fashions made by herself, by big brands like Mattel and Integrity Toys, and by her favorite doll clothing designers from Germany, Europe and all over the world. She also has separate containers for her knitwear and men’s clothing.

Eli's DIY clothing shape support of sorts

Kenya used to store her doll clothings by type (skirts, dresses, pants, etc.), but now she keeps each complete outfit in a Ziploc bag, sorted by manufacturer in different plastic bins. The OOAKs are sorted by designer. 

Eli recommends using different sizes of Ziploc bags to keep doll clothes separated and clean. To keep the shape of doll clothes in such an air-tight container, Eli uses the same cardboards used as packaging material from the dolls and accessory packs we purchase. She cuts them up in the shape of the clothing, and puts them inside the clothing before storing it inside the Ziploc bag. 

Ford‘s doll clothes are sorted into tops, pants, skirts, cocktail dresses, gowns, etc. placed in non-descript plastic containers. And these containers are segregated into categories and spots. One shelf is for Barbie clothes, another is for Ken’s clothes and another one is exclusively for the gowns.

Terri's doll walk-in closet doubling as clothing storage system

Debbie separates her sixth-scale play line clothes in doll trunks/cases from the larger, human child-sized ones, which she puts in a full-size trunk and a linen closet. 

Jelyn tends to categorize clothes into casual, smart-casual, formal, semi formal, red carpet dresses, and princess/ball gowns. She also tends to put together in one place seasonal clothes such as swimsuits, and clothes with fur (for 'winter'). She has leather jackets and clothes, which may start cracking someday and make a mess, so she makes sure to keep all these together,  hanging in her little Barbie closet from Mattel.

Terri also likes to put her doll clothes in her dolls’ walk-in closet. 

Diadema's "The Thrifty Boutique" houses her fave doll clothes

Diadema also has a boutique diorama that displays some of her most loved doll clothing and accessories. The rest of the doll clothes are put away in a big box under her diorama setup.  

Bubbles divides her doll clothing between light and dark colored ones to avoid staining each other.  If possible, she recommends maintaining a separate container per color. She uses resealable plastics like Ziploc for each division.

Tin boxes work best for Rebeca. She stores her doll clothing in these precious tin boxes that come in different sizes of which she says, incidentally, are running out of space, too! Haha! I know every doll collector relates to what Rebeca is talking about =)

And just when we thought our dolls are happy with the clothes and shoe splurge we did for them recently, they come to us and ask for more. I won’t blame them though as they’re supposed to be chic dolls – they should be accessorized! After clothing, our doll’s much needed things are accessories, as these little thingies give them personality, allow them to showcase their style, and plugs in the oomph in the outfits they’re wearing.

The dolly accessory that most collectors think is in dire need for an organization system is the tiniest of them all – Jewelry. These small accessories are commonly grouped into necklaces, earrings and bracelets/bangles, but some collectors also like to group them in their original sets, or the kind of material they’re made from. Compartmentalized, clear-plastic storage containers are considered the top-ranking jewelry storage solutions by our dolly friends.

Arianne's countless but organized doll jewelry and accessories
Despite their small sizes, Arianne says that jewelry, as with other accessories, is not hard to organize as well. She groups them into earrings, chokers, rings, and crowns in larger pillboxes that she says are perfect for the job.

For doll accessories, Eli recommends using plastic containers with detachable separators, to make different compartment sizes. The more compartments the better. She suggests to stock up on these kinds.

Kenya tries to keep sets together (excluding rings) in bead boxes. Loose pieces are grouped by color or material.

Marcela says she’s addicted to accessories! Growing up, she would watch her mom make them, so she learned to make her own, too, and for her dolls. Look at her bracelets and bangles galore!

Marcela's rainbow-colored and sorted dolly jewelry

Anika has separate containers for her dolly necklaces and bracelets all tucked safely in drawers. The rest of the jewelry is in one common container.

Ford’s dolly bracelets have their own box, and so do the earrings, necklaces, etc. This system helps him locate the needed pieces quicker when he’s styling his Modolls.

Vana’s doll jewelry is sorted by material, mainly in silver and gold, stored in several cardboard boxes.

Jelyn’s jewelry organization system includes a Ziploc bag for the rings, another for earrings, while her chain necklaces each have their own little plastic bags. She bought a cute little treasure chest in Divisoria to store these accessories. As a personal preference, Jelyn separates her dolls’ jewelry into play line, Model Muse and Integrity Toys containers. 

Vanessa has various storage boxes for her accessories. She keeps a lot of those plastic containers with dividers to hold different accessories. One of the better containers for Vanessa are her hanging jewelry holders with small plastic divided compartments - easy to see the contents and select accessories when you need them, easy to put items back when finished. 

Then we discovered shoes. We can’t get enough of them, eh? Although I think shoes are the next thing to have after clothing, they are much less fussy to organize than jewelry. Could this be because they are a tad bigger than those shiny jewelry things?

Shoes are mainly sorted into type, style, material, size, colors, among others. Favorite storage solutions for doll shoes are those craft boxes that have compartment sizes perfect for a pair or two of those lovely shoes. Some craft boxes even have removable dividers for more compartment size options. Other collectors have tiny boxes for a pair or two, while others put shoe groups in separate plastic or cardboard containers.

Marcela has all her leather doll shoes in a craft box with compartments of different sizes, perfect for the variety of shoe sizes she has. Knee-high boots fit in one large compartment, booties and strappy heels in mid-sized ones, and smaller shoes into smaller compartments. Some pairs take up one small compartment.

Marcela's leather shoe collection, mainly sorted per size
Javi also loves to store his doll shoes, segregated per color, in plastic boxes with compartments.

Jelyn stores shoes by color or by type. She uses different containers for play line, Model Muse, and IT shoes, which are housed in the smallest containers, if not individual as it is much safer for this much expensive handmade footwear. She uses a craft box with adjustable/removable dividers perfect for separating doll shoes.

Michaela does not deliberately separate her shoes per category due to the small size of her container compartments, which accommodates at most two pairs. However, since they are made of clear-plastic, it’s easier to find the shoes she needs.

Such a wide array and color variation in Michaela's doll shoe collection. stored in compartmentalized, super-clear containers
Anika uses Plano boxes for her doll shoes at the moment. They also have dividers that allow her to sort by style and color. 

Arianne’s shoes are separated by type: leather, boots, stilettos, flats, sneakers, a mix for Barbie play line shoes, for IT ladies and for the big-footed Monster High and Color Infusion girls. She uses larger pillboxes that have compartments in them for easier division. 

Some of Arianne's play line doll shoes, sorted by type and size
Ford sorts his doll shoes into casual, cocktails, strappy, high-fashion, among other types/functions and placed in plastic containers. 

Vanessa’s doll shoes are also kept in stackable plastic containers and separated by color.

Vana has several cardboard boxes for shoes, which she sorts by size. These sizes accommodate Barbie or smaller Fashion Royalty (FR) feet, tall FRs, and FR2 shoes.

Kenya keeps her play line shoes in bead boxes sorted by color. Her IT shoes are in small clear boxes (by pair) placed in a larger clear container, sorted by size  (Poppy Parker, FR2, Dynamite Girls, etc).

Terri recommends The Container Store, which offers tiny, plastic see-through containers that she uses as doll shoe boxes in her dollhouse

One of Terri's working shoe storage systems accommodates at most two pairs of doll shoes

So there, we spoiled ‘em little b****s with clothes, shoes, and jewelry from our hard-earned money. But it just doesn’t feel right, looking at them without anything on their hands, right? They look sad. They look bored. So we immediately decided that they need fancy bags and purses. And the cycle never ends =D

Handmade bags made of faux leather or delicate fabrics from Arianne's collection need some extra-special care 
Arianne takes care of her delicate handmade dolls and purses in stackable food containers.  "This way, these accessories maintain their shape, especially the hats that are prone to deforming," ensures Arianne. The much more resilient plastic molded bags are in placed in large-compartment pillboxes.

Play line, plastic-molded hand bags are tough enough to survive in craft boxes
Marcela says that she has lost some of the doll bags that were very dear to her before she started adding them to her doll storage system. And since bags and purses are mostly made of faux leather material, she puts them in a much bigger container with a relatively bigger, microwavable silica gel pack in the form of a plush penguin toy. It changes color when saturated, signaling her to microwave it again for recharging. “It’s practical and lovely!,” says Marcela.

Bubbles, on the other hand,  puts her dolly bags and purses in drawer-type containers for easy access.

For most of our doll collector friends who also like to collect diorama items, they figured organizing these is just as important as organizing other (doll) body-worn accessories. Most loves the idea of sorting and storing them separately. Favorite storage solutions include large plastic bins or containers, which are perfect for storing bigger items like furniture and vehicles, while smaller items are typically placed in small bags and plastic containers.

All of Javi’s diorama items are stored together in one box, but he groups the contents in plastic bags, depending on their size. 
Terri's adorable miniature food items

For Georgia Girl, large storage containers work well for her diorama items and accessories, too. She keeps these containers in a closet.

Kenya stores her diorama items according to type, such as furniture, food items, toiletries,among others, in separate containers. She used to keep her play sets (accessories included) together, but it became too difficult to remember which accessories came with each play set. When she accidentally bought duplicates, she decided she needed to use a different system.
Katie’s diorama items are in a cabinet, in separate boxes also sorted by type.

Terri advises that The Container Store has the best storage cases for her dolls' food and drinks. To keep her handmade miniature items in top shape, she places cotton swabs or strips of paper towel at the bottom to prevent damage on those mostly delicate pieces.  

Diorama items separated in bags then altogether placed in plastic bins is what works for Kenya.

For larger-sized diorama items like furniture or vehicles, Eli suggests getting big containers. 

Ford puts his bigger diorama props such as a mini cooper and chairs at the bottom part of his shelf. Bubbles does this too with her bedroom setup at the bottom of her display shelf.

Anika’s furnitures are kept in some of those bins she mentioned earlier. They’re not sorted as of the moment so she has to organize them soon, too. 

Edel has tons of miniature furniture and props for diorama setups all placed in a few big storage boxes in the closet. Since the boxes have wide openings, he doesn’t segregate the contents and just easily grabs what he needs for his photo shoot.

Imagine chic dolls, complete with stylish clothing and accessories, "living" in a trendy doll house full of hip things. What could be missing in their "lives"? When she goes to "work", to a photo shoot, just how does she keep herself looking stylish at most times?

Arianne keeps other essentials like a styling kit, which includes rubber bands, doll stands, double adhesives, in separate small boxes so they’re easier to find during every shoot. She also keeps an extra box for styling needs like combs, hair curlers, small rubber bands, hairs clamps, water spray bottle and makeup brushes for brushing dusts off from dolls’ faces.

Ariane's another must-have: a styling kit
So there you go - a list of dolly-must haves and some of the best working systems our dolly friends depend on to survive in such a challenging hobby as doll collecting. I hope you enjoyed reading this list as much as I did.

As always, this wealth of dolly information is never possible without the ever loving support from our friends who have contributed to this topic. A special thanks to you, guys!

Anika, FordModolls, VanessaArianneConnieVanaDebbieTerriBriniRobertBubblesRebecaDiademaMelanEdelLeslieEliMarcelaGeorgia GirlKatieJaviKenyaJelynMichaela and of course, jSarie, you guys rock!

For the final part of this three-part Collection Storage, Display and Organization series, we reveal all the tips and tricks that our friends swear by, to make this hobby more enjoyable, and as low-maintenance as possible. So, I invite you to come back next week for the finale, for the ultimate storage and organizational tips. I assure you, we're gonna learn at lot, and have so much fun at the same time.

Til then, loves!



  1. I am positively drooling over these photos. I love seeing things organized! *wipes drool*

    1. LOL! Me, too! I wish I was this organized most of the time!

    2. I feel the same way - I wonder if this can inspire me to get more organized! ;)

    3. I am already inspired... I may go through my doll shoes later.. The clothes though, I need to upgrade to a new system... or a new container...

    4. So am I but I still think your idea of storing doll outfits in sheet protectors and putting those in folders was pure genius. Flicking through "pages" of dolly fashion is lots of fun. I'm going to add Eli's cardboard form idea although everything has pretty much stayed in place, just to be on the safe, wrinkle-free side.

  2. Wow. People have really organized their accessories. I am kermit with envy!

  3. Hello from Spain: I'm sorry I did not send photos of my organization. I do not have time. I am so sorry. I liked seeing the organization from other collectors. Great ideas. Very inspiring ideas. Thanks for sharing. Keep in touch

    1. That is okay, Marta.. Here, we do not run out of things to talk about so I'm gonna bug you again for next month's topic LOL!

  4. Great post and pics. I love that we are all sharing information. Thanks so much Shasha for bringing us all together to learn from each other.

    1. Awww... thank you to you, Terri... Thiw wouldn't be possible without your generosity, you guys! <3 <3 <3

  5. Just read this for the 2nd time. I totally love all your entries. Can't wait for more ;D -Jelyn

    1. Glad you're enjoying them, Jelyn!!! Surely there will be more to come, thanks to you in advance ;)

  6. This is another great post, Shasha. So many great ideas have been shared. Thank you for taking the time to pull it all together for us.


    1. Thanks so much, Debbie! I'm really happy that you guys are enjoying these posts =) Thank you so much for all the support <3 <3 <3

  7. More great ideas- yay! I stopped at Michael's today for some new storage containers. With all the body diversity in the past year, I've had to reorganize my clothes. Now they're sorted primarily by size: Model Muse, Fashionista, Prettie Girls/Mixis, Lammily, BBD, and so on. Thanks for another awesome post, Shasha. P.S. I kick myself for not getting that striped bag before it sold out every time I see it :)

    1. Oh, Jewell - thanks so much, doll! I agree with primarily sorting by size to make life easier tee hee... I don't need this category currently, but this would be so helpful to those who collect more than one scale =)

  8. Thank-you Shasha, these are some very good ideas and it's fun to see what other collectors do.


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