Viola, A Paper Doll to Print from the 1890s

We’re traveling to the turn of the century today for Viola, a printable paper doll with her wardrobe from 1895 and 1900. She can be printed in black and white or in full color. Viola’s name was  selected from the Social Security Baby Name Index as popular in the 1890s. Fashion in the mid to late 1890′s exists between huge puffed sleeves and the rather horrid pigeon breasted look. Not being a fan of either style, I never thought I would do 1890s paper doll, but I found I liked the fashions at the end of the century, so here she is.

Honestly, the way I look at history has been heavily influenced by the historical paper dolls I had as a child, sparking my interest in social history and fashion history. So, I think historical paper dolls are great printable paper dolls for kids and I’ve only recently discovered that a number of people who use my paper dolls for home schooling activities. All of this increases the pressure to get the paper doll “right”, lest some child’s understanding of 1890′s dress be damaged by my paper doll creation. (Not that I think this would be devastating for the child in question- there are far worse things in this world.)


Viola, a printable paper doll from the 1890s in black and whiteViola's wardrobe, a printable paper doll from the 1890s in black and white{Download a PDF to Print and Color of the Paper Doll} {Download a PNG to Print and Color of the Paper Doll} {Download a PDF to Print and Color of the Paper Doll’s Clothes} {Download a PNG to Print and Color of the Paper Doll’s Clothes} {Click Here for More Pixie and Puck Printable Paper Dolls}

The mid to late 1890s wardrobe that Viola has is based on museum objects, primarily, and a few costume plates. The Met, The Museum at FIT and MFA Boston, as well as the UK National Trust were a few of my sources. When I am researching a new paper doll, I tend to collect my sources on my Pinterest boards (feel free to follow) and today’s printable paper doll is no exception. I gathered her clothing sources on my Turn of the Century board, before I started drawing.

Viola, a printable paper doll from the 1890s in full colorViola's Wardrobe, a printable paper doll from the 1890s in full color
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The Sources, Left to Right: The pair of shoes from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston from 1898. Her corset was an amalgamation of several corsets which you can see on my Turn of the Century pinterest board, however, this corset from 1900 and another corset from 1900 were big influences. I chickened out of making the corset patterned, a fact I regret.

One of her parasols was based on this one, but the other I rather invented based on a lot of various parasols I looked at. The Met actually has a really large collection of parasols, who knew?

Her seaside or yachting costume was inspired by this dress from 1895. There seems to have been a real “sailor” trend in the end of the Victorian period during the bridge into Edwardian.

A visiting or afternoon dress based on a gown from the National Trust Collections of the UK.

The carriage toilette in green is from this fashion plate I found on flickr, though I confess to usually trying to avoid finding things on flickr, since I don’t always trust the accuracy of the sources.

Her gym suit is based on this French one with the shoes borrowed from this gymsuit from 1893-1898.

The ballgown comes from a design by The House of Doucet circa 1898-1900.

Were I to draw today’s historical paper doll again, I would have included a pair of gloves and another pair of shoes, but that would have made her three pages and I wasn’t about to that. Of course, should you wish to add gloves, than I will direct your attention to the Regency Pixie Paper Dolls whose gloves could certainly be adapted here.

Regency Pixies and Happy Birthday Hans Christian Andersen

Today, in honor of Han Christian Andersen who was born in 1805, we have two regency pixies and their wardrobe. This is the last big Pixie set for a while, though I do have some one page Pixie paper dolls in the works that I am looking forward to sharing. I don’t think I’ll do another multipage set for a while. They are a lot of work.

Theses paper doll’s dresses are from about 1800 to about 1815, or so. The latest one being the morning dress with the neck ruff looking thing for Lydia (or Emma, either doll can wear the dreses) which was popular for a while though I find the style a little absurd, myself.


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There is a tendency to make everything in this period white, as that’s what fashion plates usually show, but women aren’t stupid and there are plenty of dark fabrics with prints that were popular for day dresses. They don’t show stains as much as white (does anything show stains as much as white?) and they could go longer between washingings. There’s also a tendency to talk about women being out of corsets. This was sort of true, but as anyone with boobs can tell you, having no support is darn painful.

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Since bonnets were going to be featured in this set (and I do confess I’m not very good at drawing bonnets), I knew I had to keep both of the paper dolls hair close to their heads. Lydia, above, has a braid and Emma, also above, just has her hair pulled back somehow. I imagine it in a neat bun, but whatever.

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It was important to me to give these dolls some clothes, so I decided to do a separate sheet for their dresses. After all, one dress hardly makes a very fun paper doll. So, here is a riding habit, a few day dresses, a ballgown and one of the cropped spencer jackets which I’ve always liked. As for other regency paper dolls, there’s always Flora of the Regency, and two Marisole Monday & Friends sets- Empire Elegance and Regency Romance.

Thoughts? Do the Pixies need more historic outfits?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Marisole Monday and Friends Logo and Link to free printable Marisole Monday paper dollToday, Margot is celebrating St. Patrick’s Day!

St. Patrick’s Day is a festive holiday celebrating the life of St. Patrick and Irish hertiage and the excuse to drink a lot of beer, some of it dyed green. Despite being a Saint’s Day, there’s not usually a lot of religion in the celebrations (at least not a lot that I’ve seen…)

Normally I when I do a color and a black and white version together, they are both pretty small. I decided to try out a different formatting option this time. First we have the full color version and then, a little further below, the black and white version.


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I decided it would be fun to do some historical St. Patrick’s Day costumes, so Margot has an early 18th- Century mantua gown on the far right covered in clovers. The mantua was in style until about the 1740s when it got replaced by other styles, but it was very much popular in the early part of the century. The first USA celebration of St. Patrick’s Day occured in Boston in 1737, so a mantua made sense.

Next, she to that she has a 1903 blouse with skirt to commemorate the fact that in 1903, Saint Patrick’s Day became an official holiday in Ireland. The blouse should be worn over the skirt to get the pigeon breasted look which was so popular in the early 20th century. Margot’s hair is covered in a hat and she has a matching parasol.


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So, in 1962, the city of Chicago, known for it’s Irish population, dyed the Chicago River green for the first time using 100 lbs of vegetable dye. They continue that tradition today, though its only green for a few hours. I’ve never seen the river dyed, even when I was living in Illinois, but I’ve always wanted too. Margot has a 1960′s dress with high heels and a stylish flipped hair style.

Lastly, I included a modern pair of jeans and a t-shirt, in case you want a modern celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. I did not, despite a recommendation of a friend, include any green dyed beer. You’ll have to draw your own. :)

Marisole Monday Visits the 10th Century

Marisole Monday and Friends Logo and Link to free printable Marisole Monday paper doll It’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. Link to free printable Marisole Monday paper doll

The 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.)

10th Century Anglo-Saxon Women’s Dress

The internet can be pretty messy when it comes to historical costume and fashion research. When I started working on my 10th century Anglo-Saxon paper doll for one of my drawing winners, Gwendolyn, I found myself flummoxed. Additional AS 49598 depicting 960-970The 10th century is a transitional period in Anglo-Saxon dress and not one extensively covered in most sources. I hope to have my Anglo-Saxon paper doll up tomorrow.

A full bibliography is at the bottom of the post, each plate is credited underneath it. Since I can’t seem to get my footnotes plugin to work, I’m going to use inline citations (which I hate, by the way, but what can you do?). There is only one book I was able to find that covers the 10th century with the sort of detail I wanted and that was Owen-Crocker’s Dress in Anglo-Saxon England. You’re going to see me mostly citing her. (Funny story, I found another book which covered the period briefly and the person they cited was… drum roll please… Owen-Crocker.)

So… Let’s do this thing! More Below!

Faye Visits the 1920s

Thumbnail of the printable paper doll clothes Faye has decided to do a little time traveling and visit the 1920′s. Inspired in part 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.)

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. ‘

Oh well…

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


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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

Marisole Monday and Friends Logo and Link to free printable Marisole Monday paper doll This 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 calicos 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 did 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?

Marisole Vintage Evening Gowns In Colors…

Marisole Monday and Friends Logo and Link to free printable Marisole Monday paper doll Last week, I posted this paper doll set in black and white for coloring. I promised I would talk a little about each of the gowns and where they came from.

I need to learn to streamline my method for dealing with elaborate florals, or I need to never do one ever again. Normally coloring a paper doll set takes about 2 to 4 hours, at most. Sometimes longer, but only if I take a lot of breaks and am doing a lot of other stuff. If I have my colors picked out and I’m on a roll, I can do the set in about an hour when I’m really on the ball, though formatting, saving and other detail work takes longer. That single floral dress took me nearly an hour, by itself, to color. NEVER AGAIN.

(I say that and I’m already thinking of other cool florals I might draw… I have a problem, people.)

Okay, so here’s the paper doll in full color:


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Let’s talk about where each gown came from. The floral gown, the blue gown and the red gown are all from the V&A in London.

The blue gown is based on this red dress from 1957. The red evening dress was drawn from this evening gown by Hardy Amies was made right after fabric rationing was lifted in England (1949), so lacks the layers of lace and silk that were common in evening gowns on this period. I love the simplicity and shape of the dress. The last dress from the V&A is my favorite, the floral evening gown made in Paris and worn by the wife of the British Ambassador. I tried, but I don’t think I captured the beauty of the rose patterned skirt and layered bodice.

The last pink dress comes from The Met, known as “Tree” this gown was designed by Charles James. Of all of the gowns I drew, I feel like this one didn’t work. My style of flat color just can’t capture the layering of the gowns beautiful fabric. Liana did a beautiful version of Charles james Butterfly dress on her blog several years ago which I think captures his work better than I did here.

Okay, that’s everything. Happy MLK Day to those in the US who are celebrating like me.

Marisole Monday in Vintage Gowns

Marisole Monday and Friends Logo and Link to free printable Marisole Monday paper doll Nearly 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.

Black and White Printable Paper Dolls…. Marisole Monday & Friends

I’ve been busily converting old color Marisole Monday paper dolls into black and white files. Sometimes, this is a totally painless process, but the older the files get and the more… cranky the line-work becomes. Still, it’s been rather fun and it is probably the only time I will ever do this.

So, rather than a “real” Marisole Monday post today, I offer three old Marisole Monday sets in black and white… all historically themed


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First, let’s take a short trip to the 18th century, shall we? Fourth of July paper doll from several years ago. She had a friend, but I haven’t converted that one to black and white yet.


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Though personally, I’ve never been that keen on the fashions of the 1910′s, I really love how this paper doll came out in color and I think she’s just as cute in black and white. She was inspired, though I don’t think I mentioned this in the original post in part by this doll from Madame Alexander of CJ Walker.


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I do love the 1920s, as you can see from the color version of this paper doll, but I do think that Marisole makes an odd flapper girl.

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