In the Mid-1860s… Civil War Era Paper DOlls in Color


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Here we are today with the colored version of last Monday’s post. Color for historical garments is complicated, because colors are very much a matter of taste and a matter of time. Just as the avocado and burnt orange polyester shirts of the 1970’s seem dated to us today, the colors of the past are rarely how we imagine them to be. I always picture the Victorians in tones of sepia, not because that was what they wore, but because I always see sepia photographs. I once had a professor point out that the way we picture the past has little to do with how the past actually was, but I enjoy my fantasies of the past as much as the next person.


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For this set of paper dolls, I chose to use colors from reproduction quilting cottons as a basis for the garment. They turned out to be a little muddier than perhaps I would have chosen on my own, but I wanted something different than the oranges, blue, pink, and green combination of colors I find myself most often drawn too. The ballgown in pink and black is based on the fashion plate which I drew it from, though I made a slightly darker version of the original.


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I’ll confess openly that I’m not entirely pleased with how some of these came out in color. I went muted and I think that was the right call, but I’m not sure that I didn’t lose some of the lusciousness and the vibrancy of the era. They also came out less romantic than I had hoped they would be. I do think Margot is awfully cute with her freckles and red hair (yes, I do have a weird thing for redheads). In truth, I am pleased with both the dolls. I think Marisole is a warm brown this time and I like how Margot came out. All in all, though I had some second thoughts about drawing a new face for Marisole, I am pleased with Margot and I think she’ll show up a bit more around the blog.

On an unrelated note, child paper dolls have pulled into the lead in the polling… a fact which I am very much surprised by.


  1. Thank you Meredith. I’m glad you like them.

    Well, B, it’s not easy. I’ve worn a corset and a crinoline before and it takes some practice to move around it. On the other hand, I didn’t grow up wearing one, so perhaps I’m not the best example.

  2. Hi

    Your dolls are amazing!! I’ve spent ages going through your site. Just a quick question, how you have the magnetic dolls listed with their clothing pdfs, are you looking at doing that with the paper ones. I don’t want to miss any.


    1. There are over 300 paper dolls on this site. Re-organizing them in the way I have the magnetic paper dolls set up would be an insurmountable task and not one I plan on tackling. Every single paper doll can be seen through the printable paper doll index which organizes them by series.

  3. At B: I’ve been a historic interpreter for 7 years, so for a solid three months during the summer I am wearing dresses from the 1830’s and 1880’s. Underwear (Pantalettes, petticoats, corsets, etc) and all! You get used to it, and you learn to walk and move differently (much more ladylike) it actually makes you feel really good about yourself. 🙂

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