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.

An 18th Century Round Gown for the A Pose Paper Dolls

An 18th century paper doll gown known as a round gown designed to fit the A Pose printable paper dolls from paperthinpersonas.com. Free to print in color or black and white. It has matching shoes and a bonnet.

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When I first decided I was going to create paper dolls in period underwear, I knew it would slow down my historical paper doll dress drawing. After all, once you put a paper doll in period underwear you have to make sure that the clothing you create for the paper doll fits over whatever the period undergarments are. It’s much easier to work from the bottom layers to the top layers in paper dolls. You draw the doll and then the underwear and then whatever goes over the underwear and then you do coats or whatever.

I also knew if I was going to go to all the trouble of drawing underwear and affixing that underwear in Photoshop and printing the doll again, I was darn well going to make more than 18th century paper doll gown to go over it. After all, if I only drew one dress than the return on paper doll underwear time investment would be fairly low.

So, when I drew Alice in her 18th century underthings I drew two dresses. The first was the classic very formal gown I shared several weeks ago. Today’s 18th century paper doll gown is a lot less complex and generally seen as less formal. Today’s 18th century paper doll gown is a round gown. Round gowns were gowns that fastened in the front and had no stomacher.

But don’t be fooled, a round gown could be plenty formal if made of a sufficiently expensive fabric. The gown this dress is based off of is from The Met and is made of green Chinese silk. It’s lovely. Under the gown, she wears a chemise. The other round gown inspiration was styled this way from the FIT Museum. (They call it a Robe à l’anglaise which technically it is, but it is also a round gown. Aren’t clothing terms confusing?)

The bonnet with the dress is based on this portrait and lots of examples from my costume history collection. The matching shoes were also inspired by the Met dress, because that gown also has shoes that were made to match.

One more quick thing, if you hope over and grab 18th Century Alice, because an 18th century doll down might need an 18th century looking paper doll, the hoops will not fit under this dress. Round gowns did not have the huge wide skirts that those hoops were designed to support. So, just bare that in mind. Also the bonnet is designed to fit over Alice’s hair, I don’t know how well if would fit over the hair of any of the other A Pose paper dolls. 

Need a doll to wear today’s paper doll clothing? All the A Pose Dolls & Clothing, but I would recommend 18th Century Alice with her period underwear.

Benedita: The 1930s Paper Doll Version

A beautiful 1930s printable paper doll with black hair and period underwear. She has stockings and four different pairs of shoes. Free to print in color or in black and white for coloring.

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On Monday, I posted some 1930s dresses, but paper doll dresses aren’t much use without a 1930s paper doll to wear them. So, here is Benedita, being a 1930s paper doll today! Never has the “dames” title for this printable paper doll collection been more fitting.

Benedita’s 1930s corset was based on this one from The Met. The original corset has a ruffle at the bottom. I had drawn it that way, at first, but to make the slim skirts of the 1930s work over the ruffle was basically impossible, so through the Power of Photoshop, the ruffle went away. Sometimes, paper doll creation requires editing changes, because fabric can fold and paper… doesn’t.

The shoes all came from 1930s shoes in different museums. I love 1930s shoes, but I wanted to try to focus on classic designs that would be versatile for different outfits. Her brown shoes, for example, were based on this pair of purple shoes from Saks Fifth Avenue crica 1934. Her green shoes are a simplified version of this patterned pair from 1935. Her beige and black pair were based on this pair of French sandals. The black pair of the doll is wearing come from this pair of shoes, which is also black.

And yes, today’s 1930s paper doll is wearing shoes. Why? Because I thought it would be easier to put her in shoes than deal with the fact that she can’t be barefoot (she’s wearing stockings) and I didn’t want to deal with the whole “toes under stockings” thing. So, the solution? A nice neutral pair of black shoes.

(And you can always put something over them, if you think she would secretly like to be a fantasy warrior or something.)

Now, just like my 18th Century Alice, 1930s Benedita can’t wear all the clothing I’ve ever drawn for the B Pose paper dolls without her underthings showing. So, if she does decide she wants to go slay a dragon in this ridiculous get up, than she may need need to be okay with her corset showing. Or you can always cut her head off and paste it onto another Benedita’s body. It’s a little gruesome, but no one will judge a bit of paper doll decapitation.

Love her? Hate her? Have an opinion on what decade I should do next? Let me know in a comment!

Need a clothing for today’s Doll? All the B Pose Dolls & Clothing

A Pair of 1930s Paper Doll Dresses From Sewing Pattern Covers

A pair of 1930s paper doll dresses based on 1930s sewing pattern covers in color or in black and white for coloring. Along with the two dresses, there are two hats.

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Some era’s of fashion history I love more than others. I’ve always been a little conflicted about the 1930s. I adore the asymmetry art deco influences of the era, but often find the actual clothing a little dull. Still, once in a while I see a 1930s design and think, “I want to draw that.”

For today’s 1930s paper doll dresses the “thing” I wanted to draw were those sleeves on the dress on the left. That dress is from a McCall 7209, copyrighted in 1932. You can see similar sleeves in McCall 8371 and McCall 8599 from 1935 or Simplicity 1325 from 1933. The sleeve details of the 1930s foreshadow the broad-shouldered silhouette that will become popular at the end of the decade and then take over in the 1940s.

The other of the 1930s paper doll dresses is the one on the right with the scarf. That’s from McCall 8206 and is copyrighted 1935. It’s a more subdued dress and closer to what I think of when I think of the 1930s. The skirt drops quickly from the late 1920s when it’s just below the knee to mid-calve by the early 1930s.

The two hats are based on a soft folded felt hats that were common in this era. I didn’t have a specific example I was copying, but heres a few from a pattern cover and one at the LACMA museum. More examples of 1930s clothing can be seen on my 1930s Fashion Pinterest board

I tried to pick colors schemes that coordinated for these, so that the hats could be worn with either dress. 

If you’re thinking, but there’s no paper doll with historic underwear to go with these dresses, fear not. I have a 1930s Benedita in the works to accompany today’s gowns, but until she’s done any of the B Pose dolls can share these dresses.

Meanwhile, there’s an alternative color scheme on the Patreon page from my Patrons- donate and join if you’d like to support the blog. Now, would be a smart time to join, because I am currently doing my annual “Make requests” poll for my Patrons. If you’ve ever wanted to see a ballerina pirate paper doll dress, now would be the time to ask.

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

A Paper Doll Robe à la Française from 1770

An 18th century paper doll dress based on a 1770 Robe à la Française with a hat and matching shoes in black and white or color.

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Since yesterday, I shared Alice in her 18th century undies, it seemed only fitting to share an 18th century paper doll dress today. 

In the 18th century, there were two major dress styles (along with countless variations, but these are the two biggies). They were the Robe à la Française and the Robe à l’Anglaise. Both styles consisted of an open robe with a petticoat. The stomacher, used to fill in the upper part of the robe, and petticoat could either match the dress or be in a contrasting style. The two styles are distinguished by the backs of the dresses. The Robe à la Française has pleats in the back that fall loose from the shoulders (see this example) while the Robe à l’Anglaise has those pleats stitched down into a more fitted style (see this example). The Robe à la Française was also called the a sack back or sacque back gown.

As fashion tends to do, the Robe à la Française began it’s early existence as an informal lose garment and became increasingly complex as the years went on. Today’s 18th century paper doll dress is a Robe à la Française based on this example from the Met Museum circa 1770. The original is made from scrumptious white on white imported Chinese silk. But, given the constraints of my art style, I decided to go with a rich deep red instead for today’s 18th century paper doll dress.

The hat is earlier than the dress dating from 1760. It is based on this one. Her shoes, or mules, are based on this pair from LACMA. Those wooden soles look really uncomfortable to me. I have no idea if it was at all likely to have your garters match your shoes, but since I could I thought, ‘why not?’

This gown is designed to fit over 18th Century Alice’s underwear and hoops. I would recommend adding a floating tab to the back of the skirt if needed, as it is very wide.

There’s a blue based color scheme for my Patreons on the Patreon page.

Need a doll to wear today’s paper doll clothing? All the A Pose Dolls & Clothing

Alice Goes to the 18th Century

A paper doll with 18th century underwear including a shift, stays, pocket, hoops and shoes. She's free to print in black and white or in color from paperthinpersonas.com. Great for homeschooling history lessons about women's fashion through time.

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I love costume history  and the 18th century is a favorite era of mine. I wanted to design an 18th century paper doll and I chose Alice as the model. Because of the paper doll’s historic underwear, she won’t be able to wear all the A Pose clothing. I made the decision that I was more concerned with having period underwear than with having versatility. 

So, what underwear is she wearing? Well, Alice is wearing a shift, a strapless set of stays (like these or these) and has a pocket tied around her waist (like this or this). She also has a separate set of hoops. I based them on this set of hoops from LACMA. Hoops were only worn with the most formal of gowns in the 18th century, so they won’t fit under all the 18th century paper doll gowns I ever draw.

If you look at enough pairs of mid-18th century shoes, they do start to flow together at after a while. I could literally link to dozens that are in the same basic style as Alice’s brown shoes, her red shoes and blue shoes with pattens. Here is one example, here is another and here is another. The differences come from the shape of the toe and the heel.

By the 1780s, other styles were coming into fashion. So, her brocade shoes are based on this pair from 1785 from Historic New England. By the 1790s, shoes that look more like modern kitten heels had taken over like this pair.

Her blue shoes have attached pattens, which were leather and wood oversoles meant to protect the shoes from the muck and mud. This set was my main inspiration, but here is another example of the same idea.

Historic hairstyles are a challenge for me every time. I’m still learning enough to illustrate them properly, but for today’s 18th century paper doll I really wanted to draw something that was as not too over the top. I used my historic hair style books and portraits, including this one, this one and this one. I could have gone gray with her hair, but I just didn’t really like how it looked.

Wednesday, there will be a gown for today’s 18th century paper doll version of Alice.

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

Let’s Visit the 1970s & Get Some Clothing

A set of printable paper doll clothing from the 1970s. A pair of tops and pants from home sewing patterns of the era.

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It’s taken a while for me to start liking the 1970s as a fashion era. For a long time, I just wasn’t that into it. So much of the clothing from the 1970s felt clown like to me. Over the top.

Which is odd when you consider my other favorite eras are all about over the top. I mean, have you seen the 18th century? Over the top is kinda the defining concept of the Rococo era.

What I’ve slowly been realizing is that while a lot of 1970s fashion is not to my taste, there are pockets that I simply adore. The folkloric stuff is right up my alley and I have a strange fondness for a lot of the more absurd platform shoes and the black power African influenced stuff.

Today’s paper doll designs are from home sewing patterns of the era. Sewing patterns tend to be closer to everyday wear than designer things you might have seen on the runway.

Pants became totally acceptable for women to wear in the 1970s. This was a slow process that started way back in the 1920s with lounging pajamas. So, these pants are from Simplicity 9374. They have a laced up fly (which is false) and a back zipper.

Front flys on pants were still seen as a little too risque.

The shirts are from McCall’s 5021. One of my favorite things about clothing from the 1970s is the embroidery. I love embroidery on clothing. It’s also back in style which makes me giddy as a schoolgirl. 

It just occurred to me as I wrote that that “giddy as a schoolgirl” is a trifle sexist. Hmm… I’ll have to think about that. 

Meanwhile, let me know what you think of 1970’s clothing in a comment. Do you like it? Hate it? Is there a historical era you’d like to see me draw for the new series? 

And, if you want to help out the blog, consider joining Patreon. Every little bit helps. 

Need a Doll to wear today’s outfit? All the A Pose Dolls & Clothing

The Poppets Paper Dolls Get 1927 Dresses for School and Parties


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Today’s Printable Paper Doll Inspirations: Montgomery Ward Fashions of the Twenties
A printable 1927 paper doll dress with matching hat from paperthinpersonas.com. The dress is a "school dress" with a blouse and matching pleated skirt. The hat is a cloche with contrast trim.

printable 1927 paper doll dress with matching hat from paperthinpersonas.com. The dress is a "school dress" with a blouse and matching pleated skirt. The hat is a cloche with contrast trim to color.

Today I am doing something special and posting two Poppet’s dresses- a school dress and a party dress from 1927. First up, the school dress.

When I was a kid, I loved the idea of a school dress. Despite my mother’s horror stories of wearing patent leather shoes to school, I imagined the idea of having a school dress as something very romantic and old fashioned.

Despite realizing that there’s nothing magical about having special dresses for different activities, I still love the concept.

As anyone who has been following this blog for any length of time has probably figured out, I love the idea of changing clothes several times a day for different events.

I do realize in reality, this would be a total pain in the butt, but hey, it’s a neat idea.

So, I knew I wanted to find a school dress for the Poppets for their 1920’s children’s wardrobe collection. This choice is from the Montgomery Ward catalog of 1927.

The pleated skirt makes me think school dress even though there’s no other reason to associate it with such.

I picked out the hat, because I thought the detailing was similar to the dresses piping details. The dress and the hat both come from Montgomery Ward Fashions of the Twenties. I don’t highly reommend this book, unless you already have a lot of 1920s books. It’s just from 1927, so it doesn’t really give you the range of years that some other books do.


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Today’s Printable Paper Doll Inspirations: Montgomery Ward Fashions of the Twenties

A printable paper doll party dress from 1927. The dress is trimmed in ribbons and roses.

A printable paper doll party dress from 1927. The dress is trimmed in ribbons and roses.

When I was going through the Poppet’s 1920s Children’s Wardrobe Collection, I noticed that they didn’t have a party dress. I poured through the different books I have until I found this one in the book Montgomery Ward Fashions of the Twenties.

Something about this dress made me think of spring time, even though outside the weather is chilly and there was even snow a few weeks ago. Snow in Alabama is a big deal. Everyone buys milk and eggs. Even I buy milk and eggs and I don’t even like milk or eggs very much.

I digress.

The point is that I decided to color this dress pale green, because I thought it seemed like a summery dress. The ruched waistline was tough to draw and I am not sure I was entirely successful. I really had fun drawing the ruffles.

I like drawing ruffles.

Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing some clothing probably? I mean, I haven’t really decided yet what to share about the new series. So, I should get on that. 🙂 Friday will be B&B Sorceress gowns.

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

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