Hip-Hop Ms. Mannequins: Cargo Pants and a T-Shirt

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A paper doll outfit inspired by hip-hop fashions for the Ms. Mannequin paper doll series. It's also available in black and white for coloring.

So, let’s start the week with a little Hip-Hop history.

(Wow, alliteration anyone?)

Hip-hop as a musical form is considered to have begun in New York City, in the impoverished, largely black, South Bronx during the mid-1970s. DJs, such as DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, and Afrika Bambaataa, would play records at block parties where they discovered that people were far more interested in dancing to the “breaks” in the music than to the actual “music” and they developed techniques, such as playing the same record on both sides of a turn-table, to extend these musical “breaks.”

The first official hip-hop record to be released was in 1979, when Sugarhill Records released “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang.

The art of rapping, or speaking over music, is part of Hip-Hop music, but does not alone define the genre. See? I learned a new thing in my research.

All right, so my first hip-hop fashion foray is based on a this outfit worn by Rihana. Rihana has her own clothing line called River Island. These items are very very loosely based on some of those designs.

The blog has it’s own Twitter feed where you can hear all about what paper dolls I’m working on. I’ve also been trying out Instagram, but I’m struggling a little with it. And of course, there’s always Patreon where there are behind the scenes blog post regularly if you join up.

So, what do you think? How did I do on my foray into Hip-Hop fashions?

Summer Garden: A Paper Doll and Her Clothing

logo-floral-marisole-color I love color. I have teal dining room chairs, after all and a red cabinet in my dining room that holds my larger serving dishes. My favorite sweater is lime green and very fuzzy. I call it the Mountain Dew sweater. The point I am trying to make is that if I have the choice between neutrals and a color- you can pretty much count on me picking out a color. And this helps explain why I decided to go so bright and rich with Marisole’s paper doll clothing.

Someone, I think it was Boots, remarked that she was picturing a lot of yellow and green. Well, she wasn’t wrong… Yellow and Green are definitely here. I wanted color in this paper doll set- the sort of vibrant colors I love in flowers when they are in full bloom. Of course, right now it’s cold and damp here in Alabama, but eventually it won’t be and then the bright colors of spring and summer with come.

And I can complain about the heat on this blog, thereby continuing my theme of never being happy about the weather. (Though I suppose this isn’t true, I do enjoy Spring in Alabama.)


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One of my grand frustrations with Marisole’s pose is that you can’t actually layer a long sleeved top under a skirt and expect the skirt to stay on the doll, because of her right arm which is against her stomach. This is one of the annoyances that occurs to me when I am designing mix and match paper doll clothing for her and I want to do things that just won’t work.

I’d scrap the series and redraw, but it is uber hard to give up something that I’ve been doing for six years. There are about 240 Marisole Monday & Friend’s posts on the blog. It is my most popular series and so I feel a little bound to it. It’s also a tiny bit weird to be working on something I drew over six years ago. I remember drawing the first Marisole doll. I was in grad school sitting in the library killing time between class and when I had to go to work.

And now I live in a totally different state and she’s still around. Kinda crazy, honestly.

(Don’t fear, I don’t plan on getting rid of Marisole Monday & Friend‘s anytime soon. Just thoughts about the paper doll series.)

As always, I love hearing comments from readers and, if you want to support the blog, here’s the Patreon page for it.

And Happy New Year to those celebrating the Year of the Monkey!

Summer Garden: A Paper Doll Dress Up Set

A black and white paper doll dress up set of sixteen pieces including two pairs of shoes, five tops, two dresses, two skirts, two pairs of pants and two pairs of shoes. Normally, I try not to post two fashion paper doll sets in a row, but somehow my life just didn’t let me finish up the other sets I had hoped to have done. Sometime’s life is like that, so for today’s paper doll dress up, you’ll just have to live with another contemporary fashion set.

A lot of these pieces are based on things from fashion magazines.

One of my goals with this set was to use more pattern on each piece. So, I decided to focus on floral patterns. It was fun to create the patterns for these pieces. Of all of the different pieces, my favorite is the drop waisted floral dress. (The polkadot covered jeans are a close second, I confess. They are based on a pair owned by my sister.)

I will openly confess that I really don’t remember everything I was thinking when I designed this set, except that I really wanted to play with pattern. See? Not very set has a deep philosophical story behind it.

A black and white paper doll dress up set of sixteen pieces including two pairs of shoes, five tops, two dresses, two skirts, two pairs of pants and two pairs of shoes. Free to print and color from paperthinpersonas.com.

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I’m not sure exactly what season this clothing would really work for. I mean, the turtlenecks are much more autumnal, but the florals are certainly a summer thing. I gave it the title Summer Garden, so I guess it’s summery?

A friendly reminder that if you like the blog and you’d like to support it, I do have a Patreon page where you can donate to keep things around here up and running. It’s also home to the Vivian Project.

I’m also pleased to show off my draft version of my new paper doll index page. It’s still being tweaked, so I’d love to hear what people think of it as well.

Isadora in Ruffles & Bows: Printable Paper Doll in Black and White

isadora-ruffle-logoI’ve been in this whole printable paper doll drawing thing for a while. There’s a few things I have learned and one of them is that what I like is not always what my readers like.

Now, a lot of the time I don’t care. Sorry, folks, but I draw for me first and for most. Don’t get me wrong, I love that I have active readers and every comment I get makes me smile, but if I couldn’t draw what I liked than I would go mad. Mad I tell you!

(Okay, maybe that was a little overly dramatic. 🙂 )

I mention this in direct relation to black and white paper doll sets. They are easier for me, since coloring takes time, but when I was a kid I really didn’t like to color. I know that sounds odd, but I never really “got” coloring books. They were boring. I far more wanted to draw my own stuff than color someone else’s drawing.

So, sometimes I forget that I have readers who LOVE my black and white paper dolls.

That’s part of why I created the Mini-Maiden’s series. I wanted to share with my readers something just for the black and white coloring readers that I have. I might not “get it”, but I am do enjoy drawing them and not having to color them in does make them easier to finish.

Celebrating the girly girl in all of us. Black and white paper doll with a 14 piece wardrobe.

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To bring this around to this actual post, let’s talk about Isadora. Isadora has only had three other outfit sets and none of them are contemporary. The poor girl can go to balls or fight off radioactive hordes, but she hasn’t got a decent pencil skirt. (Everyone needs a decent pencil skirt.) Well, all that ends today!

When I do contemporary sets, I like to do them in themes. So, for this set I was thinking about sweet, lady-like fashions. I wanted some delicate details like the rose pattern on the shorts and the scalloped hem on the pencil skirt. I often see these styles on the college students I work with, being that this is the South and all, so I wanted to do something of a Southern Belle. All she needs are white lace gloves and a mint-julep to sip while sitting in a white rocking chair.

Her short hair was intended to contrast with the wardrobe.

Today is Friday the 13th, if you’re the superstitious sort. I think paper dolls are good protection from such things. 🙂

By the way, speaking to my coloring readers, I know some people use simple coloring programs, but I have no ideas what they are. So, my questions are: What programs to y’all use? What file formats do those programs like? And would coloring sheets with no grey be useful?

(I’m thinking about digital paper dolls for sale right now and trying to decide what file formats to offer.)

And if you like my paper dolls, please consider supporting me through Patreon.

Joy: An 18th Century Historical Paper Doll Set

logo-joy-1700sToday’s 18th century paper dolls is my second of three. Joy, all of these paper dolls will have virtue names, is from between the 1760s though 1780s. She has underwear and a gown in the polonaise style. Poloniase gowns had a skirt that is raised up and bunched over the petticoat. Usually a gown could be worn either with the skirt looped up in the polonaise or with the skirt down- offering some versatility to the 18th century silhouette. The polonaise gown sticks around into the 19th century and is sometimes mistaken for a bustle.

Joy’s gown was based on this pink silk gown circa 1770-1780 housed at the LACMA. Her shoes are based on this fashion plate from 1778. Her undergarments are based off a set held by the V&A museum dated to 1778.

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As with the rest of this series, I based her color scheme off my 18th century color pallet which I introduced in the first part of this series. After seeing this gown from MFA in Boston I knew I wanted to do something in a rich red color. Despite myself, I tend to think of the 18th century as being muted in colors, but nothing could be further from the truth.

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It has been so much fun to share this paper doll series over the last few weeks. We have four more pages with one more doll and three more sets of gowns. The whole collection, so far, can be seen here.

Since we’re talking the 18th century, I thought I would call attention to a cool project I discovered this week. The University of Michigan has begun to translate and make available online the Encyclopédie edited by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert in the 18th century. The section of primary interest to those of us obsessed with dress is the plates on the Tailor of Suits and Bodices, but I’ve used the Encyclopédie to show students furniture manufacture and paper making circa 1790. I love this book and can get lost in it for hours.

18th Century Gowns: Round-Gown, Brunswick, and Sack-Back Gown

logo-18th-centToday, we have out first set of 18th century gowns for the paper dolls, including a round gown, a brunswick and a robe à la française.

Until the introduction of high-waisted dresses at the very end of the 18th century, most women’s garments consisted of a skirt or petticoat and a bodice. In garments like round gowns, less formal and/or worn by the middle classes, the bodice would fasten in the front and there would be a separate skirt. The far left paper doll costume is a round-gown, based on this round gown from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Sometimes, the bodice would come down partly over the skirt creating a jacket like affect. These mid-thigh length bodices were called caraco jackets. Here, for example, is an extant caraco jacket from the LACMA. Later in this series, there will be caraco jackets, but our middle gown is not a caraco jacket, but rather a brunswick. Brunswicks were traveling garments, often hooded, that had long sleeves. Though relatively practical, they were made of fine fabrics like silk- which makes one wonder about the whole “traveling” thing. Anyway, you often see Brunswick’s in art, but the V&A has a rare extant version which would have had removable sleeves. I based my Brunswick’s on two portraits- Lady Mary Fox and Alexander Roslin’s Portrait of the Girl Holding a Spaniel.

If the bodice and skirt were attached to each other in the 18th century, the skirt would be open in the front to reveal the petticoat underneath. This style of gown was called a robe à l’anglaise, closed bodied gown or an English gown if the pleats in the back of the bodice were stitched down. However, if the pleats were allowed to fall open and loose than the gown became sack-back gown or robe à la française. In modern times, this gown has been called a Watteau back or Watteau gown, after a painter who painted a lot of this style. The dress to the far right of today’s paper doll set is a sack-back gown, but I think the style is easier to see through extant examples like this robe à l’anglaise and robe à la française, both from the Met’s collection.

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Along with the gowns, today’s set includes a pair of slippers with overshoes based on this set from the Powerhouse Museum Collection. Over shoes were worn to protect the shoe from mud and muck, though I wonder how much protection a brocade and leather pair could have granted. I’ve also included several different styles of hats. My goal with the hats in this paper doll series is less to match specific dresses, but rather to provide enough variety for there to be plenty of choices. Women did not always wear their hair covered, but usually did.

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My color choices for these gowns were taken from my 18th century color pallet which I showed off in last week’s paper doll post. I chose pale blue for the round gown, since the source gown is blue striped, bright yellow for the brunswick, and a rich teal-blue color for my first robe à la française. That is certainly the most formal of the gowns from today’s set. The shoes were done in a neutral light brown color to go with any of the dresses.

In case you missed part one of this series, here is the entire collection so far. Next week, we will have our second paper doll- Joy.

Beautiful Boho: A Black Paper Doll in Color

boho-logo-colorSummer in Alabama is probably my least favorite season. First of all, it is very hot and humid. Secondly, there are cockroaches. Thirdly, it rains in the afternoons, but the rain doesn’t actually cool anything down.

We are having a freakishly hot June. It’s been in the high 90s for the last week and it is not looking to cool down at all next week. I am miserable in this heat, but I suppose it could be worse.

Someone who is not miserable in the heat (or at least isn’t showing it) is Marisole in today’s colored version of Beautiful Boho. A big part of color selection for me is finding colors I wouldn’t normally think to combine. Part of this is instinct, but I borrow most of my color schemes from various sources around the internet and then alter them as needed. Design Seeds more muted palettes were what I used on this paper doll set. I wanted to use colors that felt like they were modern and came from nature.

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I went back and forth about what to do about Marisole’s glasses in this set. Originally, I had them plain silver, but it just seemed so… well, plain. So, after some debate, I decided to make them a soft grey-teal color. It’s a color that shows up a lot in the paper doll set, but it is also fairly neutral. I also had a lot of fun painting her toe nails with her different sandals.

I don’t think I mentioned this last time, but the paper doll’s hair is based in part on the last hairstyle in this fantastic video of 100 years of black hairstyles 1910 to 2010. My only complaint about the video is that it ignores wigs which were commonly worn by black women, particularly 1940s through the 1960s. Never the less, it is a fascinating time-lapse piece.

Later this week there will be the first Flock post of 2015 (embarrassing but true).

Faye’s Fashionable Geometrics: Black and White Modern Paper Doll

logo-faye-geometricSo, I’m posting a third paper doll this week, because I totally only posted one paper doll last week. I guess this is my “apology” paper doll. 🙂

Faye here is rocking some modern outfits with geometric patterns. As I think I mentioned before, Faye is named for a Chinese student I knew in graduate school. Someone asked me how I name my paper dolls and really it is mostly out of the clear blue sky, though I tend to avoid naming them after people I’ve known who I didn’t like. There’s certain names that shall never grace a paper doll.

I used one of my favorite tools to create the patterns in this paper doll set. It’s called a drafting template and they come in all different styles. I wrote about my favorite tools a while ago. Anyway, I love them and they make from a great starting point for interesting patterns on paper doll clothes.

I usually draw a single repeat or two of my pattern and then construct the pattern in Photoshop. It’s not a hard process, but is it something people would like to learn about? I could do a tutorial I think.

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Hazel also has a heavily geometrically inspired set of clothes from last year entitled Hazel’s Geometric Style. When I first named today’s paper doll set, I nearly used the same name which would have been awkward. The similar styles I think lend themselves to lots of fun mix and match opportunities though. If you combine today’s paper doll set with Hazel’s Geometric Style there’s 274 outfit possibilities, not even including the accessory items. Pretty remarkable.

Regency Steampunk Fashion: A New Paper Doll

egency Punk: a paper doll inspired by combining steampunk and regency dress elementsThis isn’t my first foray into the whole “regency steampunk” genre, though I don’t know if this genre already exists or not. My first foray was back when I did my Best Friends set and one of their pages was regency steampunk.

This is my second foray into the genre. I think it is largely more successful, mostly because I am a better artist now than I was three years ago. I still struggle with making goggles that really “work”, but I have hopes that eventually I might figure it out.

Steampunk fascinates me just as much as Gothic fashions and Cyberpunk fashions fascinate me. I am always interested in alterative fashion cultures as they reflect some part of our cultural fabric. Despite finding them interesting, I have never had any desire to “dress up” in steampunk. I simply don’t like wearing costumes, a fact which shocks many people when they find out I draw paper dolls.

egency Punk: a paper doll inspired by combining steampunk and regency dress elements {Download a PDF of this paper doll to Color} {View a 150 dpi PNG of this Paper Doll to Color}
So, I’ve spoken before about my pet peeve that fantasy people are always white skinned, as a result I gave my steampunk regency paper doll a soft brown skin-tone. I was going to say “mocha” skintone, but I have been trying to avoid using food words to describe skintones. They just kinda creep me out. Something about my skin being called peach or cream, or calling someone else’s skin chocolate or spice, sorta… I dunno. I’m not sure I want to think of my skin as a food product. It’s a little Hannibal Lector, you know?

Anyway, moving on… The colors are based on actual common early 19th century colors including Turkey Red and Indigo. Both of these colors are produced by dyes from India or Turkey. They are such rich colors that I countered them with cream and black. Personally, I love how real natural indigo fabrics look. It’s an amazing color.

Be sure to cut along the dotted lines so she can wear her clothes and the floating tabs should keep her little top hats on her head.

egency Punk: a paper doll inspired by combining steampunk and regency dress elements. Free to print 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}
I’ve never seen anyone else combine the early 1800s silhouettes with steampunk, so maybe it has a name already and I don’t know it. Either way, I am trying to decide what to call this new genre of fashion and therefore have a poll. Plus, you know, polls are fun.

What should we call early 19th century dress combined with steampunk?

  • Regencypunk (29%, 12 Votes)
  • Austenpunk (29%, 12 Votes)
  • Empirepunk (22%, 9 Votes)
  • Just Steampunk, it doesn't need another name (17%, 7 Votes)
  • Other... I'll tell you in a comment (2%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 41

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Frocks and Gowns in Color

logo-frocks-gowns-colorSo, this is going up a little late today. Sorry about that, but life got crazy this weekend. I want to talk a little bit today about coloring last week’s paper doll and a little about diversity in the paper doll world.

So, when I color a paper doll set, I start with a pallette. I knew I was going to be giving Monica a fairly rich brown skin tone, so that opened up and closed down certain color options. For example, I tend to avoid putting brown colored clothing on brown colored paper dolls, unless the tones are really different, since it can blend too easily. Since she was going to have a rich skin-tone, I decided that bright and color dresses made a lot of sense.

The strapless gown with the belt was based on this gown by Andrew GN and since it had a red top and a pink bottom, that informed the blues and the greens as contrasting colors in the other gowns.

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I’m a big believer in paper doll diversity. I think it is really important to have a variety of concepts and skin-tones and, ideally, a variety of concepts in a variety of skin-tones. Truthfully, I tend not to think of my paper dolls in terms of ethnicity, but in terms of color. It it less about, “this paper doll is African-American” and more about “this paper doll is a dark brown with red undertones.”

I used to think I was the only one who thought this way about paper doll skin-tones until I read this post from Julie over at Paper Doll School. I was comforted to find out that we both tend to think in terms of “color” not in terms of ethnicity.

The result of coloring things, perhaps?

What I do know is that no matter how I think about skin-tone, it is crucial to me that I offer readers of all backgrounds and colors paper dolls that reflect them. People should be able to see themselves in the toys they play with.

Yes, I know a lot of my readers are adults, but adults play with toys, too. At least, they should. 🙂 I do.