Every paper doll set tells a story. As a kid, I remember I would tell all sorts of stories with my paper dolls. Some of them were the actual stories of the paper dolls- like Little Women or Cinderella. Far more often, I would design my own stories to be told with the paper dolls.
Now that I’m an adult, or so people tell me, my paper dolls don’t have the same sorts of stories. They do, however, often have worlds that I imagine they come from. In the case of today’s Margot paper doll, I imagine she comes from a pseudo-victorian world with her button up boots and her hats.
Speaking of hats, it was really important to me that either hat could be worn with either dress. Don’t get me wrong- the feathered hat was designed to match the bird-dress and the lily hat goes with the lily dress, but if you were feeling rebellious and wanted to put the feathered hat with the lily dress than I won’t stop you.
Anyway, as for her blue hair, I confess that as a total whim. I was coloring her and I thought, I should give her blue hair. So, I did.
I am actually quite pleased how the blue hair came out. I think it’s fun and unexpected.
I’ve always wanted to dye my hair blue, but I fear I am long past the point in my work life where I could get away with blue hair. Plus my hair goes down to my waist, so if I dye it than I have to live with it for a long long time.
So, we are cruising into December (so exciting!), there’s going to be fun things on the horizon and some announcements. The Pixie paper doll series is retiring and will be replaced by a new series. Lots of fun & crazy stuff.
Thoughts? As usual, I love to hear what you think about the paper doll or anything else in the comments.
There aren’t a lot of really good books on historical children’s clothing. I know I’ve mentioned before my pet-peeve of people making the assumption that “children dressed like adults” which is a huge over simplification of the history of childhood.
For this 1940’s outfit, I used Children’s Fashions 1900-1950 As Pictured in Sears Catalogs. The book is out of print, which I think is a pity, since it is one of the few fashion history books that specifically focuses on children’s dress. There are a few others, but this is one of my favorites.
The original dress was patterned, but I worried if I added a pattern I would lose the heart shaped pocket details and the pleats, so I went patternless. Sometimes I think busy patterns obscure some of the more interesting design details.
I stuck with simple underwear- just a pair of panties- and shoes with socks. Mary-Janes are my favorites in any era. There would probably be a slip worn under this dress, but it didn’t occur to me to draw one until later, so we’re going slipless.
The color scheme I think came from a catalog page, but now I can’t find it. I usually save these things on Pinterest, but alas. So, you’ll just have to trust me on this one. Both these garments are from the early part of the decade before World War Two. Once the war starts, things like pleated skirts are largely out of the picture due to fabric rationing. However, before the war, they are very much in style.
For those of you who might be curious, Petunia is modeling our 1940s outfit.
So, I hope everyone in the US had a fantastic Thanksgiving. I made pie! Everything’s better with pie. After nearly a decade, I think I have finally mastered my mother’s pie crust recipe. I still think she makes better pie than me. There is something about the pie made by family. Nothing is ever as good.
As usual, I always love to hear from readers in the comments. And if you like the paper dolls, please consider supporting PTP through Patreon.
I can’t speak for others, but for me Dover paper dolls were the best of the best when I was a kid. Sure, Golden Book made some nice paper dolls, but Dover books were what I would order from the local bookstore by bringing in the hand copied ISBN numbers from the back of the books. This was before the internet, so I had to just ask the bookstore in town to custom order them for me, often sight unseen. I still remember my joy at getting a copy of the Victorian Cat Family special order. I was 14, far to old for paper dolls, I thought. So, I carried it home in its bag and didn’t open it until I was safely in my room where no one would see me pouring over the book in delight.
A few weeks ago, I contacted Dover to see if anyone there would be willing to answer some questions about paper doll publishing. Truth be told, I wasn’t expecting a response, so imagine my surprise and excitment when Jason Schneider contacted me back. Jason was Dover’s Children’s Publishing Manager.
Born in 1975 in Valley Stream, NY, Jason attended Hofstra University (1993-1997). A life-long book lover, Jason decided to leverage this interest in publishing. He was the acquisitions manager for Barnes & Noble’s Children’s Publishing line for several years. Beginning in 2007, he joined Dover and has worked on a rich variety of content, brought interesting licenses to the company’s program and directed the hardcover Calla line of books. He also worked on the paper doll collections published by Dover and he was kind enough to answer some questions.
In the time since I wrote Jason and this post getting published, Jason has joined Skyhorse Publishing as Editorial Director of the new Racehorse Publishing and Clydesdale Books imprints. I wish him the best at his new position.
Big thank you to Jason for his time.
A Q&A with Jason Schneider of Dover Publishing
So, I have to ask, did you play with paper dolls as a kid? And what were your favorites if you did?
No, I don’t recall having many paper doll books as a child, outside of a Sesame Street Seasons Paper Dolls book which I wound up republishing with Dover a few years ago.
And, of course, how did you get into children’s publishing?
I majored in English Literature and Publishing Studies in college. The process of book creation always interested me and getting into publishing was my goal. Children’s Publishing was where I wanted find myself, but my first jobs in the business were as far away from that as possible. I started with educational reference and Math and Science publishers because I needed experience. I would up at Barnes & Noble Publishing in 2000 as an Assistant Editor for their Children’s Program and things developed from there.
When did Dover start publishing paper dolls?
Dover’s publishing of paper dolls certainly predates my tenure here. I believe that the decision to publish them grew from the company’s continuing interest to preserve and feature content that has since went out of print. The first titles were compilations of Antique Paper Dolls and were published in 1975. Both titles (Antique Paper Dolls 1915-1920 edited by Arnold Arnold and Antique Paper Dolls: The Edwardian Era) have recently gone out of print after 40 years. However, it wasn’t until Tom Tierney’s Glamorous Movie Stars of the Thirties was published in 1977 that Dover started to view it as a category.
Roughly, how many paper doll titles are published in a year?
There are a lot of variables. The market has changed considerably since we started publishing paper dolls, so there has to be the right niche for a new book. Whether it is a fashion trend or other growing area of interest, something has to strike a chord.
How do you select which paper doll titles to publish? Has the internet changed any of this selection process?
Most of the paper doll books that we publish are generated from in-house ideas that we bring to a talent pool of artists that we use. While we have published some submissions that have been artist generated in the past, the practice is far less common now. For instance, we had the idea to work with Bunny Meyer who has a substantial YouTube following under the pseudonym of Grav3yard Girl and produce a paper doll of her. We worked with Bunny and brought the concept to artist Ted Menten who brought it to life. Eileen Rudisill Miller, Bruce Jones, Tim Foley, Charlotte Whatley and Ted Menten are just a few of the contributing artists that Dover works with.
There are very few paper doll publishers left in the United States, how do you see paper doll publishing shifting in the future?
There’s us and Paper Studio Press. I don’t think anyone else views it as line. Any other publisher will publish one-offs here and there.
I think the shift has already happened. Dover doesn’t publish quite as many titles as we once did, since there is unfortunately a lack of market demand for the type of depth we once would produce. While we are still active in the area, we definitely try to link new product closely with timely events such as Pope Francis Paper Dolls, or the brand new Scream Queens Paper Dolls that links up with the show. We’re also producing paper dolls for a younger age group and while we’ve done Mermaids, Pretty Ponies, and Ballet, we’ve also produced books recently with licensed properties such as Olivia, Grumpy Cat and Betty Boop.
Dover divides their paper dolls into two categories. Those for children and those for collectors. Can you talk a little about how those audiences differ?
I think that the books are more of a keepsake for the adult market and a consumable for children. This isn’t to say that there isn’t crossover in interest for some of our books, but we usually have the dolls punch out for the more juvenile titles for ease of use. I don’t think kids are going to be as precious with the books. After attending a few paper doll conventions and asking the attendees how they use their books, some have told me they’ll buy two copies – one to keep and one to cut.
Recently, two books of Paper Action Figures, which were essentially paper dolls for boys, were published. Can you tell me more about what prompted these books? Are more Paper Action Figures planned?
It was an attempt to do something different within the medium. I wanted to update the concept, and not necessarily make paper dolls for boys but simply try a modern approach which was less gender-specific. We did Glow-in-the-Dark Ghouls and Robot Battle. The Glow-in-the-Dark element we used is really cool, but we do not have any plans to do more at this time.
What do you believe makes for a successful paper doll book? How is a traditional paper doll different from, for example, a sticker paper doll?
Victorian Vixen Paper Dolls by Ted Menten I feel a sticker paper doll is more of a sticker activity product. It’s going to be played with several times until the stickers lose their adhesiveness. I think a paper doll has more of a novelty and collectible aspect. You get more costumes, more dolls. It’s just a grander presentation.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that sales makes for a successful paper doll book. A beautiful book is great, but if no one is buying it, then it isn’t a success. Beyond that, with a classic paper doll it has to have great illustration with the dolls’ figures rendered meticulously. If it is based on a person, the likeness has to be impeccable. The costumes have to be interesting, which was something Tom Tierney always excelled at and Tim Foley is currently doing a great job with. Personally, I like when we add something novel and interesting to the format, such as with additional elements and backgrounds that Ted Menten provided the Victorian Vixens Paper Dolls with or Rudy Miller’s Dream Weddings. It just makes the book feel more complete and adds more to the overall experience, especially for collectors.
Will mainstream publishers be producing paper dolls in 25 years?
It’s hard to say what publishers will be producing in 25 years, if they are still producing books as we know them now. No one would have predicted the quick influx of ebook technology which changed the industry and there is always a new advancement which is a step away from revamping our perspective on the way things are done. I don’t know when it will happen or how it will alter the business. In the end, if there’s an audience that is interested, and mainstream publishers see potential to make money then paper dolls will still be published.
Jason mentioned Paper Doll Studio Press and I am pleased to report that I’ll have a Q&A with them in a few weeks. So, that should be fun too. Oh, and if you haven’t picked up Robot Battle or Glow in the Dark Ghouls for your collections, then I recommend them. I just got my copies and the glow in the dark feature is really cool. 🙂
I just wish there was a child in my life who needed robot paper dolls.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow. Friday there will be another paper doll set. 🙂
The trouble of posting from paper doll backlog, is that sometimes I get to the point where I’ve drawn something so many weeks ago that I have no real recollection of what I was thinking or planning when I designed whatever it is. This is one of those sets. I remember drawing it, but I don’t remember much about this set except worrying about drawing the lily flowers on her skirt and hat.
I decided I tend to always draw the same flowers and I wanted to try something different.
Margot is showing off this set. I feel rather bad for Margot, since she hasn’t gotten a set since April when she was a Tudor lady. I think it is just that she got a LOT of love at the beginning of the year and then very little for the rest of the year.
Anyway, this is the last Margot set for 2015. The year is wrapping up my friends. 🙂
As always, if you have thoughts, please share them in the comments and if you like the paper dolls than consider supporting them through Patreon.
Also, there’s going to be a really fun Q&A on Wednesday with a special guest from Dover publishing. I’ve been waiting to publish this for weeks. 🙂
Today’s printable paper doll has a retro flare- 1950s fashions abound. My goal was to make ten Buxom and Bodacious paper dolls before the end of 2015. I’m going to be honest, I don’t know right now if I’ll make it. My other goal was to have ten historical paper dolls by the end of 2015 and I have certainly made that goal, even if I count the massive 18th century Pixie paper doll set from August as one one set and not several.
Next week I’ll have a 1940s Poppet set up. It’s very cute and I’m very excited about it.
Actually, I’m very content with where I am in blogging and life at the moment. If I can just stop thinking of January as “a long way off.”
I choose to use mostly secondary colors in this set. Orange, green and purple with some dark navy and light blue thrown in for fun. I went with black for the accessories, since any well dressed lady of this era had shoes that matched her purse. I wish there was a way to fit more than one pair of shoes into these B&B sets, but alas… there really isn’t.
I was listening to West Side Story while I colored this paper doll set, so I based her skintone, hair color and eyes on a Puerto Rican friend I had in high-school.
I have a quick poll for my readers:
How would you feel about B&B sets with just clothes?
Wonderful idea. Clothes are better than dolls any day. (54%, 26 Votes)
May be. If it wasn't too often. The dolls are important too. (38%, 18 Votes)
Not my thing. Without dolls, who wears the clothes? (8%, 4 Votes)
Total Voters: 48
As always I love to hear what you think in the comments and would appreciate your support through Patreon. 🙂
So, I finally filled up my sketchbook and then I did photos of the drawings. These are Marisole Monday & Friends designs. I photographed them on a quilt my Mother made me, because she is awesome. Anyway, the first set is a winter coat set. Coats and boots and things.
I’m interested in Minimalist fashions. I’ve done a set before. This one is going to be more complex than my last set and probably not in shades of white, grey and black like my last set.
Continuing my big fantasy gowns trend, here’s another one! I really liked the hat and I wanted to create a full skirt and I wanted to do a draped overskirt. I chose short curly hair for the doll as a change of pace. Most of my fantasy dolls have long hair or elaborate updos.
So, those are the latest designs from the sketchbook. I’m in that awkward part of the year where I have the rest of the year pretty well mapped out and I just need to get through it, but I am struggling to remind myself that January is coming and I need content for that.
It’s hard to keep focused sometimes when I have a decent backlog. Once and a while, being down to the wire actually makes me more productive.
Which of these sets are you looking forward to seeing?
Want to help make these sets come into reality & see more stuff from behind the scenes? Consider supporting me through Patreon.
So, today we have Maiden of the North in color. Originally, I was used going to use any neutrals, but I realized that wasn’t really working out part way though coloring and changed my mind. I reserve the right to change my mind about just about anything.
Paper doll hair colors are usually picked based on what I think will look good with the set or on what I think I haven’t done in a while. I try to have a wide diversity of paper doll hair colors, skin tones and other things, so if I feel like I’ve done a lot of red-heads or blonds lately, than I’ll often do something else.
Otherwise, I think every paper doll would have red-hair.
For those of you who missed last week’s post, the costumes are largely inspired by Viking dress with a fair amount of fantasy elements. The oval or dwarf brooches at the shoulders are the distinctly Viking element. I have discovered a strange affection for dwarf brooches.
So, if you happen to see some weird pharmacy stuff on the site, don’t worry. I mean, it is a problem, but I’m working on fixing it. Hopefully, it won’t effect anyone at the moment. It’s bad code that needs to be cleaned up manually left over from a hack. Annoying, but part of website ownership. Thanks for your patience while I deal with it.
And if you like my paper doll (and want to see Marisole Monday & Friends before Monday), please consider supporting me through Patreon.
I’ve been in this whole printable paper doll drawing thing for a while. There’s a few things I have learned and one of them is that what I like is not always what my readers like.
Now, a lot of the time I don’t care. Sorry, folks, but I draw for me first and for most. Don’t get me wrong, I love that I have active readers and every comment I get makes me smile, but if I couldn’t draw what I liked than I would go mad. Mad I tell you!
(Okay, maybe that was a little overly dramatic. 🙂 )
I mention this in direct relation to black and white paper doll sets. They are easier for me, since coloring takes time, but when I was a kid I really didn’t like to color. I know that sounds odd, but I never really “got” coloring books. They were boring. I far more wanted to draw my own stuff than color someone else’s drawing.
So, sometimes I forget that I have readers who LOVE my black and white paper dolls.
That’s part of why I created the Mini-Maiden’s series. I wanted to share with my readers something just for the black and white coloring readers that I have. I might not “get it”, but I am do enjoy drawing them and not having to color them in does make them easier to finish.
To bring this around to this actual post, let’s talk about Isadora. Isadora has only had three other outfit sets and none of them are contemporary. The poor girl can go to balls or fight off radioactive hordes, but she hasn’t got a decent pencil skirt. (Everyone needs a decent pencil skirt.) Well, all that ends today!
When I do contemporary sets, I like to do them in themes. So, for this set I was thinking about sweet, lady-like fashions. I wanted some delicate details like the rose pattern on the shorts and the scalloped hem on the pencil skirt. I often see these styles on the college students I work with, being that this is the South and all, so I wanted to do something of a Southern Belle. All she needs are white lace gloves and a mint-julep to sip while sitting in a white rocking chair.
Her short hair was intended to contrast with the wardrobe.
Today is Friday the 13th, if you’re the superstitious sort. I think paper dolls are good protection from such things. 🙂
By the way, speaking to my coloring readers, I know some people use simple coloring programs, but I have no ideas what they are. So, my questions are: What programs to y’all use? What file formats do those programs like? And would coloring sheets with no grey be useful?
(I’m thinking about digital paper dolls for sale right now and trying to decide what file formats to offer.)
And if you like my paper dolls, please consider supporting me through Patreon.
This is one of several posts I plan on doing focusing on historical costume research resources. Today, I am focusing on a topic that I think is really important and also fairly hard to research: Corsets and Underwear.
It may not come as a surprised that there are a lot of myths about corset history. Fewer about underwear history in general, but corsets weren’t worn in a vacuum, after all.
As some of you know, I collect costume history books, so I might as well embrace that obsession while I’m at it. My goal with these little selected bibligraphys is NOT to list every single book published on a topic. Rather, I want to share the books that I find most useful.
The Selection Critera
1. Have I actually seen it? If I hadn’t actually seen the book, than it doesn’t get to go on this list.
2. Do I actually think its worthwhile? If I don’t, than it doesn’t go on this list. Now, this isn’t a list of what I think are the best, just what I think are decent, so some of these I do criticize.
3. Does it focus specifically on underwear and/or corsetry? There are a lot of good books on Tudor dress that talk about underwear and there are a lot of good Victorian fashion books that talk about corsets, but that’s not the point of this list. This list is for specialized resources. So, the book has to be focused on corset history or underwear history.
4. Is it just a pattern book? I have no issue with books with patterns, but this bibliography isn’t about how to make corsets. There are excellent books on corset construction that don’t touch on the history of the garments. So, those are straight out. Some of these books do include patterns, however.
That’s it. That’s how things ended up on this bibliography. Not exactly the most complicated criteria.
The Bibliography of Books on Corset and Underwear History
Originally published in London in 1951, it was reprinted by Dover in 1992. It starts in the Medieval period and goes through about 1940. Now, let me make a few things clear here. The first is that this book was written in the 1950s and therefore it has to be recognized as a dated resource. It also lacks extensive illustration, again because it was written in a time when illustrating a book was much more expensive and challenging than it is today. Despite these flaws, this might be one of the best overview books on this topic around. At least, I have yet to find it the equal. Plus, they cite all their illustrations, so yay! Citation!
My only complaint is that the Dover reprint is about the size of a trade paper back. I wish it was larger. As far as complaints go, I think that is pretty minor.
Basically, Ewing attempts to do what Cunnington did in an updated fashion. After devoting about maybe a dozen pages to the period between 3000 and 1500, the book then covers the next few hundred years in more detail. I think Ewing’s work is decent but not fantastic. I’m not a big fan of the illustrations, but the text is well written.
This is such a beautiful book. I mean, I love all the Fashion in Detail books by the V&A, but this one is really glorious. For those of you unfamiliar with the Fashion in Detail collection, it is structured so that you get a close up photograph of a garment, two line drawings of the garment and then a description of the garment. Unlike many fashion books, the Fashion in Detail collection focuses on, well, the details. So the books are often structured around specific elements like button holes or lace, rather than around time period. As much as I love this book (and I love it so much I own two copies), I don’t think I would buy it as the only costume history book you own. Still, if you want eye candy… this book as eye candy.
This is one of those books that has patterns, but I have never made anything from them and I don’t think it’s really a “construction” book, rather it is a detailed study of about 24 corsets. The earliest is from around 1750 and the latest is from 1817. There are also two really cute little doll corsets included which is rather fun. Each corset gets a photo, a hand-drawn pattern and a detailed description. The unique inclusion of maternity stays and children’s corsets makes this a particularly valuable book, but it focuses strictly on corsets, so be aware.
Steele takes on 400 years of corset history in this book and looks at both why women wore corsets and what their purpose was. Perhaps the most fascinating part of the book, however, is the section she devotes to look at the modern obsession with “fit” bodies in relation to the pasts obsession with corsetry. Well illustrated and well written, it’s a great book, but it is strictly about corsets.
If you’re looking for a book of beautiful photos of corsets, this ain’t it. If you are looking for a wonderful study on the sociological implications of the corset and its evolution, than this is totally that book. It’s a fascinating look on the role corsets played in construction Victorian femininity and middle-class culture. I think Summers and Steele are doing similar things in their books and I think both are excellent. Summers is a bit more focused on the Victorians than Steele who delves more into modern and fetish corset aspects.
There are certain works in a field that are seminial and Waugh’s Corsets and Crinolines is one of those books. First published in the 1950s, it discusses about 1500 until about 1920. Waugh organizes her work in large historical periods than by type of garments. So, finding stuff can be challenging. However, once you get past the wacky organization and sometimes tiny font, Waugh’s work is one of the most comprehensive books on the subject. Along with period patterns and diagrams, she quotes contemporary sources and includes tons of lovely primary source information. Unlike Cunnington’s work (which came out around the same time) Waugh doesn’t spent much time talking about cultural implications of garments, she just gives tons and tons of lovely information. Some of it a trifle disorganized, I grant, but I just don’t care.
Someday, I will own a hard cover addition this book, but that day might be a while off.
So, that’s my list. Did I miss any stellar texts on the subject? Is there something I should track down to check out? Let me know in a comment.
I linked to Amazon in this list mostly, but check your local library first. A lot of these are commonly found in those places and I am big fan of seeing a work before investing. Don’t just invest, look at it first. I mean, you can take my work for it, but I’d rather you make your own choices.
Vikings… Vikings… Vikings… Okay, not really. I mean, these are totally fantasy Viking outfits, but I have had Vikings on the mind ever since I did my historically accurate (for the given value of accurate) Viking paper doll and I found myself returning to the Viking look.
So, what makes these Viking inspired or Norse inspired, as I tend to call it. Well, the big thing are those dwarf-brooches. You can read all about the actual drawf brooches in my Viking article, but I wanted to include them here. Her shoes are also based on actual Viking finds in York, so they’re also a nod to the whole Norse/Viking thing.
I added fur trim to her gowns and did a lot of pattern. I wanted to get to use multiple colors in these gowns, so the patterns help with that.
Our model today is Meaghan of the Marisole Monday & Friend’s family. This is the fifth Meaghan set and probably the last one of the year. I’m getting to that point where I start planning for 2016. Thinking about 2016 and making sure I have enough backlog to get me through the Holidays. I always travel mid-December to visit family, so I tend to try to have things ready before I depart.
That means… backlog, backlog, backlog!
(It helps if you say it three times in an increasingly cheery voice. That’s how the backlog fairies know you really need their help.)
As always, I love to hear for you guys, so feel free to ask questions or leave thoughts in the comments.