Marisole Monday Visits the 10th Century

anglo-saxon-logoIt’s a Margot paper doll this Monday, the first for the new year, I think, and she’s sporting some stylish garb from the 10th century. Yesterday, I posted a pretty long ramble about 10th century Anglo-Saxon women’s dress and if you’re interested, I recommend reading that as well as this post, since the two rather go together in chronicling the epic research adventure this paper doll was.

One of my January drawing winners, Gwendolyn, who asked for this paper doll has been very kind as I slowly did my research and then set to work on drawing the set. I won’t pretend it hasn’t been both stressful and time consuming, because it has, but I am utterly pleased with the outcome and I hope she is as well.

Gwendolyn wrote me that:

I have actually thought a little bit about what I would choose if I ever won, so I can tell you now that I am interested in a Marisole-family doll, who is 10th century Anglo-Saxon. I would love a set or two of daily clothes, but I would also love a maille shirt and helm.

Speaking of the maile shirt, it is based on Anglo-Saxon finds in York and the helm is also based on the same thing. As women didn’t wear maile, I didn’t spend a huge amount of time researching the historical accuracy of such a garment. Personally, I’ll confess, armor doesn’t get me going like clothes do.

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So, let’s talk about the clothes. As I explained yesterday, 10th century Anglo-Saxon’s women dress consists of several layers of clothing. To begin with Margot (our Anglo-Saxon model with a French name…) wears a pair of leggings with windings around the calves and shoes. The shoes come from Anglo-Viking finds in York dating from the 9th Century. The windings around her calves are based on an illustration from the manuscript Psychomachia (British Library MS Additional 24199) which shows a barefoot women on horseback. Sadly, the manuscript hasn’t be digitized, but there is an illustration in Owen-Crocker’s Dress in Anglo-Saxon England. There is no way to know what the top of such leggings looked like. I made them like this so they could be worn with the maile shirt.

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10th-century-anglo-saxonThe shift’s neckline is based on an illustration of a male farmer’s tunic illustrated in Tiberius B v calendar (British Library MS Cotton Tiberius B v, fol. 4r) and the sleeves are wrinkled as I discussed yesterday. The necklines of the other dresses are also based on the necklines of men’s tunics in the 10th century.

The veils are based on manuscript illustration, though I had added visible pins. Pins are commonly found from this period and it seems logical they were used to hold veils together. The green veil with broach is based on an illustration of the Virgin Mary from the first half of the 9th century (see Plate 1). The brown “poncho” is based on several illustrations and I discuss these cloaks a lot more in yesterday’s post.

Lastly, the embroidery on the red dress is not based on anything specifically. I wanted to use some patterns I found online, but they were far to detailed to easily make tiny enough to work as illustrations at such a small size. I did not include girdles as there is almost no published information on them and I didn’t want to just invent stuff. The colors used in these garments are based on the colors of the famous Bayeux Tapestry (which is not actually a tapestry, but that’s neither here nor there).

Well, I hope everyone has enjoyed the last two days in the 10th century. I certainly have had fun researching and I hope to do some more medieval period paper dolls now that I know more about the eras in question. (I think my next one will be 1300s, a little easier than 900s.)

Faye Visits the 1920s

logo-1920-period-paper-doll-mini-maidenFaye has decided to do a little time traveling and visit the 1920’s. I love drawing 1920s paper dolls and this one was no exception. Inspired by Anna May Wong (the first Asian-American famous film actress), I knew I wanted to use Faye, my Asian Mini-Maiden in this set.

(I did not give Faye Anna May’s wonderful bangs because every time I tried to draw them they looked… off somehow. Bangs and I just don’t always get along.)

Faye has shoes, stockings, a girdle, a house dress, two day dresses and then a swimsuit. She should probably also have a swimming cap, but I didn’t really think about that until after I finished the set and then it was too late. But she’s got a pretty good set of 1920s clothing to print and color, I think.

Oh well…

I really had fun with this set since I just bought a few more books about 1920’s clothing and wanted an excuse to play with them.


Inspired by Asian-American actress Anna May Wong, here's a black and white printable Asian paper doll with a 1920s wardrobe to print and color. She's free from paperthinpersonas.com.

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I’m trying to give more information on where I do my costume research when I say something is historically accurate, so I’m including a sources list, in case anyone else wants to dabble in the 1920s. It’s not exhaustive. There’s some other great books out there, just what I happened to use for this set and have on my own shelves at home.

A Few Sources for 1920’s Fashion History

1920s Fashions from B. Altman & Company. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1999.
Atelier Bachwitz. Classic French Fashions of the Twenties. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2012.
Blum, Stella. Everyday Fashions of the Twenties as Pictured in Sears and Other Catalogs. New York: Dover Publications, 1981.
Lussier, Suzanne. Art Deco Fashion. Boston: Bulfinch/AOL Time Warner Book Group, 2003.
Peacock, John. 20th-century Fashion: The Complete Sourcebook. London: Thames and Hudson, 1993.

Do people find this idea of sources lists useful? I don’t want to do them all the time, but for my historical stuff I thought it might be helpful for folks. Thoughts from my fabulous readers?

Sewing the Seventies… A Paper Doll For Jo

seventies-logo-marisoleThis is the paper doll set I abandoned last week and instead posted the doodles. I am so happy I gave it another week to be refined. Jo was one of the two winners of my drawing in January. She asked for a “groovy” late 60s early 1970s Marisole paper doll based on pattern covers from patterns she actually had sewn at the time. How cool is that?

You can see a PDF of the pattern covers Jo sent me here. I loved all of the pattern covers and I wish I had been able to draw them all, but, of course, that would be way more than a one page paper doll.

Normally, I do two pairs of shoes for each Marisole and friends set, but I wanted to focus on things the patterns had, so a simple pair of clogs did the trick. Tiny calico patterns were the “in” thing in the 70’s, so I created some to decorate these groovy outfits using a new method that I’m experimenting with involving Photoshops pattern making tools. I think they came out pretty well considering that I only sort of know what I am doing.

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I drew a new Marisole paper doll face for this set, because I wanted to try to capture some of the whimsy of the pattern cover’s faces. I don’t think I did a good job of that, but I did have fun. Jo asked for bangs and brown hair, or I would have given into the temptation and tried to do Farrah hair.

(Okay, I did try. I confess. It came out… weird looking.)

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I had so much fun dabbling in the 1970s, especially since I’m not very familiar with the clothes of this era. So, fans who remember the 1970s… how did I do?

Captain Mannequin

Thumbnail of the printable paper doll clothes When I started the Ms Mannequin paper doll series, my goal was to draw primary contemporary clothing. I had high plans of doing stylish designers and other things. Maybe dabbling a little into vintage Dior, but mostly being contemporary. The dolls were designed to be models, not curvy at all, so they could wear the contemporary styles.

However, it wasn’t long before I was sketching and suddenly pirates reared their heads and demanded to be drawn. I ignored them for a while, but soon they were saying, “DRAW US.”

And I said, “Okay. No need to shout.”

And so this pirate set was born.

What can I say? I like pirates. I feel like there’s nothing “new” about this pirate set though, so I’m not sure it’s my best set. Still… sometimes you just have to draw pirates.

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By the way, I’m doing site clean up, sometime I do every Jan/Feb to tidy up categories, fix things that seem broken and a little spring cleaning is done. So, things might be morphing and changing around here in subtle ways. Nothing to worry about, just me tidying up my files. 🙂

Poppets go Medieval… sorta…

poppets-dragons-logoWhen I first drew the Poppets paper dolls, I knew I wanted to do historical costumes. This isn’t historically accurate by the way, but it does have a 1300s flair, I think. One of the reasons I steer clear of certain periods of history is that I feel like I don’t know enough about them. I am familiar enough with Victorian and 18th century costume that I feel fairly comfortable simplifying it without losing it’s authenticity, but I know very little about clothing in Europe before 1400.

As a result, I tend to categorize my forays into the “medieval” look as fantasy, rather than history. It keeps me from feeling guilty about not really knowing what I’m doing. However, Gwendolyn asked for a paper doll of a 10th century Anglo-Saxon when she won my drawing last week, so I guess I better learn something about the 10th century.

In the meantime, here’s a Poppet Medieval outfit strictly in the realm of fantasy being modeled by Petunia. I like to think she might be a princess, but I haven’t given her a crown, so the jury is out.

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I’m also really pleased to say I’ve recently stumbled across a new paper doll blog called Paper is Suffcient. It’d a new blog, so go over there, check it out and drop Natalie a comment. We need all the paper doll blogs we can get. 🙂

Marisole Monday in Vintage Gowns

marisole-vintage-logo-bwNearly a year ago, I was asked to draw a paper doll of 1950s evening gowns.

Initially, I didn’t do it, because I couldn’t find any 1950’s evening gowns that I liked. Eventually I felt guilty enough to check out the V&A and the Met, both have strong collections from the 1950s.

I told the requester that I was working on the paper doll and asked what the hair should look like. The immediate answer was, “Like Mine.”

“Well,” I said, “Micro-braids with streaks weren’t really a thing in 1950 something, but okay. If that’s what you want…”

So, we have Marisole here, rocking her micro-braids with some couture 1950’s evening gowns to show off. As inspired by Liana’s comment a few days ago about stories, I offer the following scenario to justify this strange juxtaposition:

Marisole, working as the fashion editor of a major publication, has been invited to the Met’s annual gala whose theme, this year, is the designers of the 1950s. Eager to make an impression on the red carpet, she’s choosen to wear a vintage gown from the period. I am sure she will be the hit of the party when she arrives. 🙂

By the way, in a totally unrelated note, that floral pattern on the full skirted gown was the most complicated floral pattern I have ever done. I’ll rant more about coloring next week when I post the colored version. All I have to say is that normally, a paper doll takes me four to six hours to color, layout and get set up for blog. This paper doll… took longer. Much Longer.


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I will talk about the sources for each gown next week when I post it in color.

Also, my little drawing/contest is open until midnight on the 15th. Feel free to enter.

Marisole Monday Paper Dolls To Color- 3 Modern Sets

This is the 500th post on Paper Thin Personas. YAY. Go Me! (I feel like I should do something more celebratory, but I’m not really sure what.)

Anyway, I’ve had several comments lately requesting old paper dolls re-done in black and white for coloring. So, today I’ll be posting three older Marisole Monday Paper Dolls in black and white.

Plus I didn’t quite get done with my planned post, so there’s always that too. I’m doing my usual January poll about what th blog should gain in the next year. Feel free to vote and there’s a drawing/contest with details here.


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This was a pretty early Marisole paper doll. I think she was the first Caucasian Marisole paper doll (which still looks odd to me) and she’s, unsurprisingly, a redhead. I’d had a few requests for redheads, which is where she came from. I see a lot of problems with her now that I’ve drawn a lot more Marisole paper dolls, but I still like her hair.


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I love winter coats and I drew this right after moving to Illinois. It was a cold chilly snow filled place and I particularly like the snowman and the snowball. This remains one of my favorite sets. It’s also a rare set where Marisole’s original hairstyle is visible.


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I was never really pleased with how this Sporty Girl paper doll came out. I drew her because I got a request to do some spots outfits and the requester wrote a really nice email about the importance of girls in sports.I thought the intention was really good, but I think the desire to do something that my heart wasn’t in really shows. I was drawing it because I thought I should, not because I liked the idea or I was committed to it. On the other hand, I like her shoes.

And that is all for this Monday. There will be another edition to Greta’s Trousseau later this week.

Geta’s Steampunk/Neo-Victorian Printable Paper Doll Trousseau… The First Part

greta-trousseau-set-1-imageThis is the first part of a multi-part paper doll project to create a neo-victorian or steampunk paper doll bride with a trousseau of outfits for every occasion. I feel like I’ve written before about my love of the idea of a trousseau. I remember as a child I was fascinated with the idea of having different dresses to do different activities. I wanted to tea dress and an afternoon dress and a morning dress. This all seemed very exciting to me. I’ve never given up my love of trousseaux or layettes or wardrobes and each time I do a paper doll, particularly a mix and match paper doll, I think about how each of the pieces can go or can’t go with each of the other pieces.

Several months ago, I hatched the idea of doing a steampunk paper doll with a trousseau, playing with the Victorian obsession with an “outfit for every activity”. I poured over old reports of trousseaux from major marriages of the guilded age, including Princess Beatrice whose style seems remarkably crisp and straight forward for such a frilly period. In the Ladies Book of Etiquette and Manuel of Politeness the following information about a proper bridal outfit, or trousseau, is offered, “In preparing a bridal outfit, it is best to furnish the wardrobe for at least two years, in under-clothes, and one year in dresses, though the bonnet and cloak, suitable for the coming season, are all that are necessary, as the fashions in these articles change so rapidly. If you are going to travel, have a neat dress and cloak of some plain color, and a close bonnet and veil.”

Clearly, this is going to be a larger project than just this post. This is the first of what I suspect will be several pages of trousseau for Greta. We’re starting with her wedding dress, with a jacket, a dinner dress and a house dress.


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The wedding dress could become a ballgown quite easily and that wasn’t an uncommon practice, because wedding dresses were often simply a women’s best dress. The dinner dress is more of a semi-formal dress, a step below a ballgown and right around the world of an opera toilette (don’t worry, she’ll get one of those two). Her house dress is, of course, the least formal with a book to read while she spends time at home. Ever stylish paper dolls need to relax sometimes.

All of Greta’s Trousseau posts are gathered together under the tag “Greta’s Trousseau.”

Ruffles & Florals & Stripes & Afro-Puffs & Paper Doll to Color & Print

logo-floral-bwFor my second Bodacious and Buxom paper doll to color and print, I wanted to do something modern. Most of my readers know my love of fashion magazines and I wanted to create a mix and match set that felt contemporary and contained things I could imagine a stylish girl wearing when she walked down the street. I try to be diverse in my paper doll production, both in theme and in ethnicity and in style, so today’s paper doll is a stylish black girl with some mad-happening afro-puffs.

So many “modern” paper doll sets are very very frumpy and I try very hard to avoid frumpy when I make my paper dolls. Frumpy is not something I want my paper dolls to be. Plus, since the Bodacious and Buxom paper doll represent curvy girls, I really don’t want to go frumpy. Just because you have some curves does not translate in to wearing a sack.

Anyway, people have probably already noticed I have a thing for afro puffs. I just think they are SO cute, though I have been told recently by someone whose far more familiar with black hairstyles than I am that they are not currently an IN thing to do with your hair. She assured me, however, that I could still draw them if I wanted. (Not that I was seeking permission.)

I do try, however, since I am not black myself, to be respectful and aware of trends while I am drawing. I think you have to approach such things from a place of learning and willingness to be corrected as needed.

A curvy black paper doll to color and print with a ten piece mix and match wardrobe. Free from paperthinpersonas.com. {Download a PDF of this paper doll to Color} {View a 150 dpi PNG of this Paper Doll to Color} {More Bodacious and Buxom Printable Paper Dolls}
When creating a paper doll to color and print, I try to think about shapes and also pattern. After all, it is only so much fun to color things when there’s some neat things to color. I was never a big coloring kid, but I know a lot of my readers are (or have kids who are.)

Before I forget, I would like to wish a Happy Yule to any of my readers who are celebrating tonight. (Someday, I may tell the story of me and badly chosen shoes and a lot of snow and the search for a suitable Yule log. It was um… an interesting high school adventure which did not involve booze, but probably should have.)

Also, while I was wandering around the web, I came across a blog I’d never seen before called Paper Doll World. It’s a fun blog devoted to one of my favorite topics (paper dolls) and the dolls are very cute. They remind me of some of the dolls I drew as a child, which is fun.

Hello! Stella… A New Asian Ms. Mannequin Printable Paper Doll

logo-mannequin-stella First of all, Happy Last Night of Hanukkah.

And then… what to say about Stella?

Well… hmmm… I confess I try to avoid talking to much politics on this blog. The truth is that I like paper dolls. My readers like paper dolls. And really… that’s why we’re all here right? To enjoy paper dolls, play with paper dolls and feel guilt free about being in my late twenties and still in love with these tiny ephemeral objects.

Still, I think Stella deserves some commentary. I drew her several years ago, like most of the Mannequin’s while I was reading a book on the history of Asian-American theater, creatively titled, A History of Asian American Theater. I picked it up for a class I couldn’t take and ended up reading it anyway, because I was curious. So, when I sat down to draw my Mannequin heads, as I do when I’m starting a new paper doll series, I was full of thoughts about repression of Asian-Americans and stereotypes of the “oriental”.

I knew I wanted to create diversity in the paper doll series, but I also felt weird drawing an Asian paper doll and not acknowledging that Asia is a very large, very diverse place. Is it fair to simply stick Stella up, note in my tags that she’s Asian and then move on with my life? I just wasn’t and still am not sure.

Which brings us to Stella and what I can say about her. She’s based on no one in particular. I have struggled to draw Asian features, particularly eyes which have epicanthic folds and a single eyelid, for a long time, so I don’t trust myself to do them very well. I think she looks good though. She’s based, very vaguely, off a very kind Korean student I knew and also some Chinese girls who rode the same bus I did in the afternoons and with whom I struck up conversations sometimes. They were both law students.

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Personally, I think Stella is Asian-American, perhaps Chinese or Korean in descent (in honor of my various models), I think she is going to university and studying to become a historian. That’s all I’ve decided about her. Perhaps other people have other ideas?