Pixie & Puck: Masquerade

I showed this paper doll as a sketch about a month ago, the reality is that it can take a long time before a paper doll goes from sketch book to blog. Largely, because I tend to draw a lot for one doll, lose interest and move onto another, so the drawing always happens in fits and starts.

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I post on a schedule since I think it should be more even for the dolls and since it helps me not have long gaps in my posting. Plus inking is really boring, so I tend to do it in while I’m hanging out with people (who don’t mind chatting with me while I’m bent over a sketch book), watching TV or have an extra half an hour between classes and no homework to get caught up on. I have learned though that if I don’t keep up with my inking, I suddenly find myself with 15 pages to do and that always seems utterly overwhelming.

While these dresses have no real relation to historical costume, I did do a lot of reading up on the 18th Century for my Marisole paper dolls for the 4th of July and I used those books here too. Below I’ll talk about the books I used and why I used them and what I thought was helpful and not helpful about them- for paper dolling, I mean. This isn’t about academic costume research (though many of these books are good for that too).

elegant-art-book-coverI might have an addiction to exhibit catalogs. An Elegant Art: Fashion and Fantasy in the Eighteenth Century is older from an exhibition catalog produced by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for an exhibition in 1983 on 18th century costume. The number of lovely full color photos show off the costumes and a full listing of the exhibit in the back allows you date everything. Close up of fabric and shoes and particularly nice. Shoe research is really important to me, so I’m always looking for good photos of historical footwear. The text has several essays on 18th century life, including one on movement which I found fascinating.


fashionindetailcoverSeventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Fashion in Detail
is part of a series of books from the Victoria and Albert Museum costume collection. The upside of the books is that each garment has a clear line drawing of the front and (sometimes) the back. The downside is that the only photos are of detailed sections giving you a clear beautiful photograph of a button hole or embroidery, but not of the entire garment. I wouldn’t recommend this book on its own, but with other books that give clear all over photographs, it’s a great text and the line drawings are wonderfully clear and easy to work from. If I was going to give a numerical score, I would say eight out of ten. It also covers the 1600’s as well as the 1700’s which is useful (1600’s costume books can be hard to find).

corsetshistoricalbookDespite some really catty reviews on Amazon.com, Corsets: Historical Patterns & Techniques is a pretty good book about corsets. There are patterns, flats (which are useful since they show the backs of the corsets) and one full color photo each of the corsets in question. The text isn’t written to be an academic study, so don’t even go looking for that- it’s a book written by a costumer about corsets, with photos, a bibliography and a really nice range. The regency corsets are what made me pleased with it, but it also shows several different sets of stays from the 18th century. Good as a supplement to other books on this list. I do wish she’d given the full citations for her museum examples though… but that’s just the librarian in me.

dangerousbook Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the Eighteenth Century is the catalog from a show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Each room of the exhibit depicted an aspect of aristocratic life, with costumed figures talking, getting dressed, making music, and other activities. The scenes follow the plot of the novel Dangerous Liaisons, but you don’t need to know the story to enjoy the images. What is delightful about the book is that it places the often over the top dresses of the era within their context in period settings. The posed figures sometimes make seeing the costumes clearly a little difficult, so I don’t consider it an ideal book for paper dolling, but it’s a lot of fun to look at and there are some nice essays included on the culture of leisure in the 18th century. It’s not the first book I go too when I need source material, but the full color photos put it in the top few.


patterns1coverPatterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen’s Dresses & Their Construction C. 1660-1860
is not just a book of patterns, though it includes patterns for all of the garments shown. It is a wonderful book about historical costume with beautiful pencil drawings, lots of black and white photos of primary sources and excellent text. It doesn’t have the visual appeal of some of the other books on this list, but it does have some really useful images and each item shown comes with a detailed description. I used to avoid Janet Arnold’s books because I thought they were nothing but patterns. In reality, the patterns are only a part of the great material. It has no color photos though, so look elsewhere for eye-candy.
revolutioninfashionbookIf I could only own one book on 18th century dress, I might just pick Revolution in Fashion: European Clothing, 1715-1815 from the Kyoto Costume Institute. The text I can take or leave, but the photos are outstanding. Despite the title, the clothing is really more from about 1750 to 1815, there isn’t anything shown from really early in the 17th century. The costumes shown include formal, informal, underwear, accessories and, my favorite, shoes. I also love this book for the regency period costumes it shows. Because it’s from 1990 and because it was a short print run to start with, the book is really expensive on the secondary market. I have not cross compared, but I believe the same photos were used in Fashion from the The Kyoto Costume Institute which is not insanely overpriced on the secondary market. In fact, it is still in print.

Lastly, I’d like to mention one of my favorite books about 18th century costume that has very few photos and isn’t useful at all for paper dolling, but it is a lot fun and that is Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution. The subtitle alone makes me really happy, but the book is a wonderful non-fiction work about the history of costume in the 18th century, French politics and Marie Antoinette, who was more sympathetic then I ever thought she would be.

And this was a really much longer post then I had intended… I suppose that is what happens when you let a book lover talk about favorite fashion books. I hope it is helpful to anyone who wants to do a little research into what they used to wear in the 17th century.

Marisole Monday: Practical Princess

From a kingdom high in the mountains, Marisole has come. It’s a harsh, rocky landscape and its princess is a practical oriented woman with a love of sword fighting and literatre. Her mother insists she still practice her stitching for when she is married, but would rather be out riding her horse. Someday, she will marry and rule this hard beautiful land, but until then she must study and wait.

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I don’t usually think about characters when I’m drawing Marisole, but after the Yellow Princess set, I wanted to do a more practical princess and I began to wonder what sort of world would spawn such a logical and down to earth member of the royalty. I choose cool calm colors for her clothing and decided to rely on gray rather then brown as my neutral. My favorite of her costumes is her grey leather jumper over her purple skirt. I imagine this is a fencing outfit to go with her sword and her practical boots.

I have done quite a few “princesses” over the years, often based on color. Princess In Pink was one of my first with a very pink and blue based color scheme. I love her hair style, but the color is redder then I think it should be. Before her, there was Green Princess who had a unique crown and only two dresses, because I forgot to draw a left sleeve onto the other dress and didn’t notice until I’d scanned and colored it. Opps… And then in June of last year, there was the Elven Princess who had pointy ears, purple eyes and one of my favorite sets of clothing. Lastly, there was the Yellow Princess who went up just a few weeks ago.

So, Marisole has been a princess quite a few times, though this is the first Marisole with Asian features to be a princess. I wanted her to resemble Filipino coloring, but I’m not sure I liked how her skin tone turned out. I think she looks a little sickly.

Pixie & Puck: Rosalita

I’ve never really liked roses as a flower. I don’t buy them when I’m buying flowers, I’d rather have poppies or foxglove or tulips. But my grandfather grew roses and I remember learning how to prune them, so I have a certain soft spot for roses and I always will. I wanted to draw a formal paper doll, something fantasy based and a little over the top and roses seemed to fit the bill.

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I am trying to get better at writing things for this blog. I’m a rather private person by nature and I don’t really like to expose myself even to people in the real world. Adding to that is the feeling that I really shouldn’t talk about my job (at which I spend about 20% of my waking life) and I can’t imagine my classes would be that thrilling and the only other thing I do a lot is play board games which also doesn’t seem ripe for discussion. Winning at Settlers of Catan four times in a row is hardly the stuff of interesting blog reading. (Though I do tend to build entire empires based on sheep and sheep alone, I am the queen of sheep.)

In short, I never know what to say. I am trying to get better and more comfortable and not put off writing something to the last minute. I am getting better at it. It’s just not my strength.

Seven Blogs about Historical Fashion

Here are seven blogs about historical and vintage fashion that I read regularly. Why seven? Well… it’s a cultural number and a prime and basically because that’s how many I have bookmarked. There are two kinds of research I do. I do focused research and I do wandering, I feel like pawing around the internet kinda wasting time research. Historical fashion blogs are usually more the latter type of research then other former, but these are the blogs I read when I’m looking for historical fashion information and inspiration or just trying to waste use wisely some time.

1. Historical Fancy Dress
Fancy dress costume descriptions and information regarding historical masquerade balls, primarily of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Text and illustrations directly from period sources. Seriously, what could be better then reading about the wacky things Victorians got up too while dressing for costume parties? It will shock and amaze. I just wish there were more pictures (a fault of the topic and the time and not all all of the blogger).

2. Fashion Historia
Exactly what it claims to be, Fashion Historia is the history of fashion, mostly- an eclectic mix of topics. I don’t always read the articles all the way through, but I enjoy browsing it and check back every few days.

3. The Way We Wore
The blog of a wonderful vintage clothing shop (which sells beautiful things you should go look at), The Way We Wore covers contemporary and vintage costume. I don’t go here when I need to find out something specific, but I do love checking up on the posts.

4. Worn Through: Apparel from an Academic Perspective
Don’t let the word “academic” in the title scare you. Worn Through is a wonderful blog about all things apparel related. Its especially nice for its well written book reviews and its great exhibit announcements.

5. Demode
Full of historical costume, as well as projects and a great resouce list, I can’t say enough good things about this beautifully designed blog. Her article on hair styles from the bustle period is among my favorites.

6. Circa 1850
Wonderful blog about making costumes, researching costumes and other historical fashion things and it’s not just about the 1850’s, I promise.

7. Historical Personality Disorder
If you don’t read it for the interesting costume information, read it for the writing. Seriously, one of the most amusing blogs I have read in a long time and I wish I could write like that. Plus its full of information on Elizabethan costume (mostly) and what could be bad about that?

Did I miss a historical fashion blog that you read and you recommend? Tell me about it. 🙂 I’m always looking for more time wasting research.

Shadow And Light 5

Among other things, Number 5 is the first Asian Shadow and Light paper doll, as well as being one who has a pair of sandals that lace up to her thighs. I don’t know how they would work in the real world, but I am rather in love with them. Have I mentioned before I have a thing for shoes?

shadow-light-paper-doll-5

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As B pointed out, I sort of skipped the letter D with my Dictionary Pinup Paper Dolls. I was rather hoping no one would notice… There will be a D paper doll, I promise. I don’t know when… but it will happen. Life gets busy sometimes, but fortunately I have readers who keep me honest. Seriously, if there is ever a problem with anything on the blog, please let me know. I try to keep up with dead links and typos, but I don’t catch them all and I know it. I’m always usually grateful when people point out my errors since it lets me fix them.

Curves 2.0 Welcome Elena

This paper doll is named in honor of a good friend, as many of my paper dolls are. The moment I drew her, I thought she looked Hispanic, so I decided to make her Elena and I gave her more coral colored lips since I’ve done a lot of red lipped pin-up dolls. Someday I need to draw her a bull fighter costume in order to forefill a complicated inside joke, but until then she has some darn sexy underwear.

dictionary-girls-paper-dolls-elena

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She’s up a little late tonight, because I spent the evening baking rather then working on blog things. I am part of a club at my University and we’re having a bakesale. I promised to make stuff for it, so tonight I found myself putting together cookies. Tomorrow will be brownies and rice crispy treats- both easy enough to make though I confess I haven’t made rice crispy treats since I was about ten. Still, how complicated can they possibly be?

I forget sometimes how much I like baking until I get back into the kitchen to do it. I rarely bake for myself, because I live alone and it would be dangerous to have cookies around the house. Stuff like this is an excuse to pull out my grandmothers chocolate chip cookie recipe and use it, though I don’t make them as crispy as she always did.

And that, my friends, is more then I can imagine anyone wanted to know about my cooking habits. I am thinking now though that a series of aprons would be a fun thing to draw for Curves 2.0. I should get on that… but not until I finish my cookies.

Marisole Monday: In the Nineteen-Tens…

I had so much fun drawing and researching this paper doll. I’d forgotten what a blast it is to settle down in the library with a big stack of historical costume books. (Okay, so maybe that makes me all kinds of geeky, but I can be cool with that.) The early teens of the 20th century are fascinating to me, because they are before the Great War (also known as World War 1) and repersent the last hurrah of a culture that was ended by the time was war ended. The Great War truly changed the cultural and poltical and geographic landscape of Europe and when it was over, nothing would ever be the same. While historical interesting, the Second World War’s cultural upheavel can not be compared to the devestation wrought by the First World War.

Along with historical costume and libraries, I am a bit of a World War One buff.

marisole-1910-paper-doll

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Anyway, I mostly used The Cut of Women’s Clothes: 1600-1930 by Waugh, Fashion in Costume 1200-2000 and Fashion Accessories: The Complete 20th Century Sourcebook. None of them are what I would call excellent texts (except The Cut of Women’s Clothes: 1600-1930), but they all served the purpose of providing images of clothing to draw from. I have my doubts about Peacock’s research sometimes since his work is not extensively footnoted, but I love how easy it is to draw from. I should add that all of Marisole’s costumes come from between 1910 and 1915- the first part of the decade up to the first year of the Great War.

Edit 8/23/13: This paper doll is now available in black and white for coloring.

Pixie & Puck: Adalind

Adalind was in the same vein as Blossom and, at least some ways related to, Tones and Shades, Tokyo Meets Georgia and Inspired by Africa of Marisole. I know a lot about historical costume in the western world. I’ve read up on it, I understand it and to tell you the truth I really enjoy it.

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Despite that, or perhaps because of it, I have found myself drawn to the costumes of other groups. I’ve been reading up on Africa and Asia and the Middle East, but as I did my reading I stumbled across the traditional dress of Sweden and Austria and became interested in it as well. So, Adalind was born out of that interest.

It is funny the complicated routes paper dolls can take from idea to creation.

Shadow and Light 4

The best thing about the Shadow and Light paper dolls is that I decided to number them rather then title them. Perfect solution to my natural problem of coming up with titles.

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I’m always excited when I stumble across paper dolls in while I’m not actually looking for them. Final Fashion is a great fashion illustrators blog which features lots of beautiful fashion paper dolls. They are available for purchase, but every one can also be seen to just gaze longingly at. One of my pet peeves is when people have paper dolls for sale, but you can’t really see each page of the paper doll or the clothing. There’s a few artists I will buy on faith, but generally I like to see what I am getting. My favorite is her Vionnet paper dolls. Madame Vionnet is a somewhat under appreciated designer from the early 20th century who introduced the world to the bias cut dress. Unfortunately, her style was very much of its time and hasn’t really survived to be present which is a pity.

On a semi-related note to the Madame Vionnet ramble, I am curious if people would be interested in knowing which fashion books I use when I’m doing research. I’ve been on this Japanese kimono book kick for a few weeks (literally, my table is covered in them) and I’m trying to decide if fashion/costume book reviews are something people would like to see. Thoughts from the masses?