1940s Week: The 1940s Summer Paper Doll Dresses from Vintage Sewing Patterns

A set of 1940s paper doll clothing with two dresses based on sewing pattern covers, a white purse and a straw hat. The paper doll clothing can be printed in black and white or in color.

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I posted the prompt on Facebook, the Patreon Page and here to ask me a question and that I’d answer it in a blog post. So far, Melissa and Laura Jay have taken me up on it.

Laura Jay asked: Where do you get your inspiration?

Well, Laura, that’s a short answer to that and a long answer. The short answer is: Everywhere, but mostly Pinterest.

The Long Answer is: I believe inspiration is a myth. We become inspired by doing. Don’t know what to draw? Just start drawing. Don’t know what to cook? Just start cooking. The word ‘inspiration’ conjours images of fairies who come and provide the perfect idea.

There is no perfect idea.

Take today’s 1940s paper doll dresses. The sources were Simplicity 1628, McCall 4280, and a hat and purse from The Met. But those weren’t what inspired me in the first place.

What inspired me in the first place was that I drew the straw hat, because I was looking for 1940s hats and I thought it was super cute. But I didn’t think it went well with Wednesday’s dark eggplant dress, by the time it was done. So, I decided to draw a pair of summery dresses to go with the straw hat. That meant pouring through the Vintage Pattern Wiki until I found two dresses I liked- McCall 4280 came first and then Simplicity 1628.

Once they were done, I realized I needed a purse or something and I went looking for a 1940s purse that felt summery. I was completely unsuccessful and on a deadline, so I used this purse and made it white. I still think that was cheating a little. I store all the things I see on Pinterest boards, like my 1940s fashion one.

I’m not sure I did a very good job answering your question, but I hope I gave some insight in how my brain works when I’m putting together a set. Meanwhile, don’t forget that on Monday there was a 1940s paper doll to go with today’s 1940 dresses and Wednesday there were two other dress options.

Meanwhile, let me know what you think of today’s dresses in a comment whenever you have a moment and if you’d like to ask me a question, please do!

Need a doll for today’s paper doll clothing? All the B Pose Dolls & Clothing, but I would recommend the 1940s Beatrix if you want period underwear to match the era of these dresses.

1940s Week: The Winter Dresses for the B Pose Paper Dolls

A pair of 1940s dresses for the printable paper dolls from paperthinpersonas.com. On the left, there is a suit from Adrian dated to 1943-1945 and on the right a dress from McCall's sewing patterns from 1946. Available to print in color or black and white.

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This whole week of 1940s fashion would not have happened if it weren’t for the suit on the left from LACMA. Seriously, I feel in love with that suit and then I was like, Welp, I guess I’m going to draw a paper doll with 1940s underwear and things… they spiraled from there.

You can see the suit in photos here and it was designed by Gilbert Adrian. Who was Gilbert Adrian? Well, it was one of the names used by Adrian Adolph Greenberg, a costume designing legend of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Even if you’ve never heard the name Adrian, you have seen his work. He designed costumes for The Wizard of Oz,the 1938 Marie Antoinette and over 250 other films. During the 1940s, he began a commercial fashion line from which I assume this suit is related, based on the date.

Now, the dress on the right shouldn’t be neglected, just because it’s not from a famous designer. It’s from the McCall sewing pattern company, McCall 6533 to be specific. I liked how contemporary it felt, despite being from the 1940s. I am regretting that I didn’t draw a matching hat to go with it. Clearly, I need to do more 1940s clothing to fix that act of neglect.

The purse is a bit of a mystery to me. I noted the date 1940s next to it and usually I also write down the source, but I guess I didn’t. I’ve been through my 1940s Fashion Pinterest Board, where I try to keep these things, several times with no luck. I’m sure there was a source and I am going to leave things at that.

I tried to capture the strong shoulder of the 1940s with both these pieces, though I’m not entirely sure I was successful. The 1940s is much like the 1980s in that the shoulders are broad. If you missed it, on Monday, there was a 1940s version of Beatrix. Friday there will be summery 1940s dresses to round out the set.

Meanwhile, let me know what you think about today’s 1940s dresses in a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Need a doll for today’s paper doll clothing? All the B Pose Dolls & Clothing, but I would recommend the 1940s Beatrix if you want period underwear to match the era of these dresses.

Introducing 1940s Week: Beatrix, Her 1940s Underwear and Shoes

A printable paper doll in black and white and in color with 1940s period underwear and four pairs of shoes. The paper doll is a young black woman with period 1940s underwear, shoes and hair. She has three other pairs of shoes to wear.

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So, one thing I’ve kinda missed doing were theme weeks. So this week is all 1940s! We’re starting with a 1940s paper doll in this version of Beatrix, wearing a girdle and bra and with her four pairs of shoes. Wednesday and Friday will be 1940s dresses to go with Beatrix.

When I asked last week what people wanted to know more about, a lot of folks here and on the Patreon page said inspirations and sources. So, let’s start with Beatrix, her Hollywood inspired hair and 1940s underwear. I own several books on historical hair, but none of them discuss black hair styles. In fact, I don’t know of one that does (does anyone know of one?)

So, I went to look for the hairstyles of Hollywood black actresses of the time, as Hollywood was a leader in fashion during this era. I settled on this image of Theresa Harris. The still is from the 1948 thriller, “The Velvet Touch.” I don’t know much about Harris, except what I read on her Wikipedia page. She sounds like a strong interesting woman.

The paper doll’s 1940s underwear is based on a set sold from Sears in 1947. I used the Dover book, Everyday Fashions of the Forties As Pictured in Sears Catalogs. I chose this underwear to draw because I could draw the paper doll pants, someday. Most girdles I saw would not have made pants very viable and pants were finally coming into their own in the 1940s.

The paper doll’s shoes are all from various museums. She is wearing this pair from Gucci at The Met. And from top to bottom, she has a pair from 1942 from the V&A, a pair from the 1940s also from the V&A and a pair from 1942 from The Met. I tried to chose shoes that were interesting, but also typical from the period. You can see a bunch more shoes from my 1940s Fashion on Pinterest.

Any further questions? Let me know in a comment. I always like hearing from you guys.

Need a clothing for today’s paper doll? All the B Pose Dolls & Clothing.

Hazel Visits the 1940s: Afternoon Dress from 1940


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I think it’s a little fitting that at the end of this 1940s paper doll to print week, we are returning to the early part of the decade with this 1940s afternoon dress, especially since we started with a 1940s afternoon dress on Monday. Today’s dress is based on this afternoon dress from 1940 which I found from the New York Public Library Digital Collections.

This dress has many of the details I associated with the 1940s including puffed sleeves, a natural waistline and a gored skirt that falls to the knees, but the ruching details on the bodice are very much of the 1930s. Fashion doesn’t change on a dime, so it’s a nice example of the transition of styles.

The truth is that the 1940s is a fascinating era for fashion. World War II influences everything, of course, but there’s also more women entering the work force, the end of the Depression and Rayon, invented in the 1930s, becaming mainstream. Paris, which was occupied by German forces, was no longer the center of fashion and New York came into its own.

Now you might be wondering, if all that’s true, where can I see more cool 1940’s fashions? Well, I have a whole Pinterest board devoted to the decade. I will confess it’s a little bit of a harder decade to research, because much of the material is still in copyright. However, you can still find stuff around if you dig.

Hazel & Her Wardrobe: A 1940s Paper Doll to Print & Color

In other news, I signed a lease, so I am now in the midst of hard core packing. I think I have enough backlog saved up that the blog will continue as usual, but I will be slow to reply to comments or emails and such until the end of September, I think.

I hope everyone has a great weekend! I’ll be spending mine packing up boxes.

As always, I love to hear what people think in the comments.

Hazel Visits the 1940s: Girdles, Purses and Gloves, Oh My!


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Black and white printable paper doll coloring sheet with 1940s underwear, shoes, purses and other accessories for the Min-Maiden paper doll series. Free to print and color from paperthinpersonas.com

It’s Accessory Thursday! See, I didn’t have one last week, but it wasn’t abandoned for long. Today, we have some 1940’s girdles, a long-line bra, two purses, beads and a pair of ever important gloves. If you ever thought to yourself, “I need some 1940s underwear for a paper doll” than here you go!

(I find it hard to imagine anyone ever thought that, but maybe I’m wrong.)

The shoes on the left are based on a blue suede pair from 1941. The other pair is from the 1942 Spiegel Holiday Catalog. The “lower” purse is based on a Gucci model from 1949 while the other is from 1944. See, I said back on Monday one 1949 item slipped into this week’s early 1940s paper doll series.

Her 1940s underwear is based on two different 1940s gridles. The first is from 1942 and the second is from between 1942 and 1949. After I drew these, a freind remarked that he thought they were a bit racy for a paper doll, but I think paper dolls can be sexy if they want to be. Besides, it’s not that racy.

Now, if you need a paper doll to wear these lovely girdles, than Hazel from Monday has the hair for the era, but any of the Mini-Maiden‘s can pull off the looks, I’m sure.

By the way, if you are a twitter person (I am) than follow the blog’s feed and hear all about the movies I watch while I draw and other thrilling details on @paperpersonas. I’ve also been trying out Instagram, but I’ll confess I’m not very good at it yet. And of course, there’s always Patreon if you want to help pay the blogs operating costs.

And who doesn’t want to help with that?

So, what do you think of this weeks set? Are you enjoying this foray into the 1940s? Let me know in a comment!

Need a Mini-Maiden paper doll to wear today’s outfit? Pick a Mini-Maiden Paper Doll Here.

Hazel Visit’s the 1940s: A Smart Dress from 1943


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A smart 1943 dress for my 1940s printable paper doll, Hazel. It's free to print and color from paperthinpersonas.com.

Today’s dress for our 1940s printable paper doll is from another pattern cover. It is based on a Hollywood pattern from 1943. One of the things I liked about this dress was the two ways it was styled. In one option, it almost feels like a suit and in the other it is clearly a house dress. Just like today, people liked versatility in their sewing patterns.

Despite appearances, this dress is really made in one piece. Similiar styles are this 1944 Dubarry design, this 1942 Hollywood desig and this 1945 Simplicity version.

The pattern on the dress’s skirt is based on the fabric of this dress from 1942. It’s another example of the “two piece, but not really” dress style and I loved the fabric print which I simplified extensively to make into a paper doll version. Be sure to read the whole blog post, it’s totally fascinating.

Her hat is based on the hat worn by the fashion figure on the pattern cover, but small hats like this, sometimes called “doll hats”, were very popular. Here’s an example from 1940 and another example from 1940. I did my best to capture the look in a way that I still thought would stay on the paper doll’s head.

If you’re in need of a 1940s printable paper doll to wear this lovely 1943 dress, you can pick up Hazel in all her 1940’s printable paper doll glory from Monday’s post.

If you want an inside look at what goes on behind the scenes of PTP, you can follow the blog on Twitter or become a blog patron. Blog Patron’s get their own special behind the scenes blog and sometimes extra paper doll outfits. (Just sometimes, because I do have a life. Mostly.)

So, is anyone planning on coloring today’s paper doll dress? What colors would you use? I’ve been thinking rust and navy, but that’s just me. Other people’s thoughts? Leave a comment and let me know.

Need a Mini-Maiden paper doll to wear today’s outfit? Pick a Mini-Maiden Paper Doll Here.

Hazel Visits the 1940s: A Dress from 1942


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A 1940's paper doll dress with matching beret in black and white for coloring. The dress is based on a 1942 DuBarry pattern design and fits the Mini-Maiden paper doll series.

So on Monday, I posted Hazel and her afternoon dress from 1940. That was kind a formal 1940’s look, so I wanted to show of something maybe a little less fancy for today. This Dubarry pattern from 1942 is a great example of the masculine influenced dresses of the early 1940s and I recreated as a 1940’s paper doll dress to print and color.

To go with it, I drew a beret which was a very popular hat style, but I’ll admit- beret drawing is maybe not my great strength.

So, a few things about this dress. It’s based on a pattern by the DuBarry company. DuBarry was a branch of Simplicity Patterns that were made from 1931–1946 exclusively for Woolworths. The wonderful Vintage Pattern Wiki has a bunch more Dubarry styles available for browsing, if you want to pop over there to see them. Two of my other 1940s favorites from Dubarry are this wedding dress from 1941 and this dress from 1944.

Most of the dresses I have drawn for this week come from sewing pattern covers. Though not always an obvious source for fashion history, sewing patterns, like catalogs, are useful to see what normal folks had access too. Most people weren’t buying designer clothing after all and I like to keep my paper dolls a little down to earth… except when they’re aliens.

The downside of these sorts of primary sources is that it is impossible to know what people thought about the pattern design. Did they like it? Was it popular? Did people think it as ugly?

For example, here’s a Simplicty pattern for a strange lace up poncho. Will some historian in the future think we all wore lace up ponchos in 2016? Probably not… but it highlights some of the danger of not using multiple sources when making decisions about what to create for historical paper dolls.

By the way, what do you think of today’s 1940’s paper doll dress? Do you like it? Hate it?

New content announcements, plus other interesting stuff, goes up pretty regularly on the blogs Twitter feed. Also, if you love the blog, then support it on Patreon.

Need a Mini-Maiden paper doll to wear today’s outfit? Pick a Mini-Maiden Paper Doll Here.

Hazel Visit’s the 1940s: The Doll and Her First Dress


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Hazel- a paper doll and her 1940s afternoon dress. She's the first in a series for 1940s paper dolls.

May I be honest with y’all? I like y’all, so I feel I can be honest.

I have been super busy in the last few days looking for an apartment. I have finally found a spot I like and am now starting to pack. So, during the chaos, I have fallen back on the Mini-Maidens. Frankly, they are the only series I can scan and prep in just one night.

I mean, I’d like to say I did this for purely artist reasons, but really it was a mental health decision.

Plus, I printed out some images from the 1940s as source material weeks ago and I decided to get the darn paper doll set done.

Anyway, today we have Hazel, one of the Mini-Maidens. She’ll be getting an early 1940s wardrobe. Because nothing says, stress relief like a 1940s fashion paper doll, am I right?

Why the early 1940s? Because the styles changed dramatically after World War 2. I wanted to look at the fashions for the first part of the decade, except for one purse that slipped in accidentally. You can check it out come Thursday where there will be an Accessory Thursday post. I know that will make some of you happy.

So, Hazel here has one dress for today. It’s based on this uncredited image from a magazine from 1940 that I found in the New York Public Library Digital Collections. I did my best on the hat, but I’ll openly confess that I am not totally pleased with how it came out. Still, you can’t please all the people all the time or even one artist most of the time. I struggle with hats, but I won’t get better if I don’t practice.

Thoughts on the 1940s? Is it an era you like? Or hate? I find people seem to be pretty adamant about this decade one way or the other.

Smart Winter Clothes: 1940s Printable Paper Doll Clothes

poppet-1940s-logoThere 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.

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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.

1940’s Vixen: A 1940’s Fashion Paper Doll

Bodacious & Buxom logo- 1940's VixenThere are some periods of fashion I’m naturally drawn too. I love the regency era and the 1870s. I have a strange soft spot for the 1920s and the mod looks of the 1960s. However, 1940’s fashions just doesn’t do so much for me. Still, one of my goals for my paper dolls in 2015 is to do more historical paper doll sets and to stretch myself into eras that I’m not naturally interested in.

As a result, today’s paper doll is clad in 1940’s fashion finery.

Truly, the 1940s is a fascinating time in fashion history. World War Two interrupts the middle of the decade and the end of the war welcomes in a whole new style of clothes thanks to Dior’s New Look. Prior to 1947, however, there is cloth rationing in many countries, most notable England, and an emphasis on “Make Due and Make Mend”. Magazines would publish articles on how to transform a man’s suit into a woman’s suit or how to turn dishtowels into aprons.

A printable paper doll with 1940's fashions including three diereses, three hats, purses and shoes. Free to print and color from paperthinpersonas.com. {Download a PDF of this paper doll to Color} {View a 150 dpi PNG of this Paper Doll to Color}
Hats were still required for day wear. Our paper doll is sporting three different hats and two purses. Marie Claie UK published these wonderful photos of 1940s fashion on their blog- photo number 27 inspired one of her hats. Her black purse is from 1945 and is based on this purse from the V&A. Her shoes are from 1943, based on this pair at the Met.

A red-headed printable paper doll with 1940's fashions including three diereses, three hats, purses and shoes. Free to print in color from paperthinpersonas.com. {Download a PDF of this paper doll in Full Color} {View a 150 dpi PNG of this Paper Doll in Full Color} {More Bodacious and Buxom Printable Paper Dolls}
All of her dresses come from vintage pattern covers- Vogue 5667, Simplicity 3296 A (one of my favorite designs, I used it here too) and Vogue 5802 A. My 1940s fashion Pinterest board contains more images that influenced this set.

A Quick Poll…

What historical era should B&B visit next?

  • Vikings! (AKA 800s) (28%, 18 Votes)
  • 1950s (20%, 13 Votes)
  • 1860s (17%, 11 Votes)
  • Regency (15%, 10 Votes)
  • 1300s (8%, 5 Votes)
  • 1700s (8%, 5 Votes)
  • Other, and I'll tell you in a comment (5%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 65

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