Today’s paper doll post is a big skirted princess fantasy dress- one of my favorite styles to explore. I’ve done quite a few of these dresses for the B pose ladies before. You might remember my fall steampunk inspired one from a few weeks ago.
There are genre’s I come back to over and over again. Some of them are themes like post-apocalyptic or fairies. Others are more like fashion styles. On of them is what I call “Big Skirted Princess Dresses.”
One thing you must know about me is that I was a child of 1980s and 1990s. That means, I grew up with Disney movies like Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid (which terrified me so much as a child I refused to watch it again until I was in my 30s.) I also grew up with paper dolls of these movies and the paper dolls of Peck-Grande who made the most amazing fairy tale paper dolls. Seriously. Check out their Beauty and the Beast paper doll or Sleeping Beauty paper doll. Also big skirted over the top dresses were sort of a thing in the 1980s and early 1990s.
So, in my head, fairy tale dresses with huge skirts and crazy decorations are just what princesses wear. Plus the big skirts give lots of room for added decoration.
Today’s foray into the big-skirted-princess-gown genre has a bit of a steampunk vibe. I really wanted this dress to feel autumnal, just like I think the other big-skirted dresses I have done feel like they are from other seasons. This one was my winter dress and this one was my summer/spring dress.
Do let me know what you think of today’s post in a comment. I love to hear from you. If you want to support the blog, think about donating through Patreon.
In the continuing epic of big skirted dresses, I offer up this princess ball gown. I imagine it comes from the same world as this dress and this dress. Now that I have three, maybe I should make it a collection? I am very conflicted about that idea, because I’m not sure I’ll draw more.
Okay, I probably will draw more, because I love me over the top ball gowns. The more wild, the better.
Today’s gown is partly inspired by dresses from Japan that I learned about from Liana’s paper doll blog years ago- color-dresses. They are these completely over the top colorful ball gowns worn to the reception after the wedding. Liana’s blog has the proper Japanese word for them, but I am hesitant to copy it, because I don’t know any Japanese. As I understand it (and I am not an expert on Japanese wedding customs), the bride often wears a kimono for the ceremony, a white wedding dress for part of the reception and then a colorful dress like this for the evening party. The gowns are wild and wonderful and remind me of what a princess ball gown might be.
I love them.
I would like to point out that today’s down is more restrained than a lot of these gowns. Here’s a few more that I adored. Seriously, this might be the best rabbit hole to go down ever if you love over the top gowns and who doesn’t love those?
For July, we chose a patriotic/colonial theme for the paper doll collaboration between Julie, Missy and I. I really love over the top roccoco inspired gowns as you may have already guessed from this paper doll and this paper doll and this paper doll and this paper doll. And that’s not even all of the ones I’ve ever drawn, it’s just a few of my favorites.
So, today’s foray into the genre, I wanted something that could be patriotic (if you colored it in red, white and blue) for the July 4th Holiday in the USA, where I live. But since I know not all my readers are from the USA, I also wanted it to be a gown that could be celestial if you preferred. I think in purples, blacks and blues this gown could become something for the Queen of the Night from Mozart’s Magic Flute, for example. I could also see it in red, white, black and gold and have a circus theme. The possibilities are really endless.
One the things I love about playing with color (and one of the reasons I so often do extra color schemes) is that I love how much changing the color can really dramatically change the look and feel of a single paper doll gown. I like to play with color (and I love color), so that’s a big part of why I do that.
If you want to see more of the collaborative paper doll fashions, check out Paper Doll School and Miss Missy Paper Dolls my partners in this adventure. They’ve been such inspiring and good sports about the whole thing. We’re just over six months in and I couldn’t be happier at how the whole thing has gone.
Normally, the last Friday in the month is my paper doll collab day, but because of “life” we all agreed to move the usual sharing of the collaborative paper doll project to Monday. So, be sure to tune back, so to speak, for that. Today, instead, there is a new addition to the Fantasy Maiden Series.
As some of you may recall, I introduced this series back on the 6th of July.
Today’s addition to the Fantasy Maiden Series is a more formal down than my last one. I think perhaps something meant for an event or maybe a banquet. I also imagine it as being made of velvet and silk, but, of course, you may decide yourself what fabrics are in use.
I didn’t want to draw yet another sword/dagger (which is my default medieval accessory), so instead I drew a book of music and a flute. I’m not very musical myself, but I like to think my paper dolls have all sorts of talents that I don’t possess.
One of my personal challenges with this color scheme was not to use any black at all. Instead, I used a deep navy to accent the other shades which I think gives a sort of seaside or mist filled morning feel to the gown.
I always think of these big full skirted dresses as ‘princess dresses’ even though princesses wear all sorts of different dresses across time. It’s probably the influence of the 1980s on my childhood along with movies from Disney that makes me think of these dresses in that context.
I’d say there’s a bit of the 1860’s in today’s summer paper doll dress, but I’m not really sure there is. No lady of the 1860s would be caught dead during the day in a dress that showed off this much shoulder.
Usually, this is the point where I link my inspiration, but frankly this one came mostly out of my head. I don’t even think I did a thumbnail pre-sketch, which is a bit unusual for me. I do remember drawing the top of the dress first and then deciding I needed something on the skirt to fill up the empty space beneath the over skirt.
I wanted this dress to feel summery like my last foray into this style (back in February) felt wintery. I do think both this dress and the February dress come from the same universe, so to speak. I see them as sister dresses.
I have been debating drawing more of these dresses. I think there needs to be an autumn and a spring version as well. What do you think? Big skirted princess dresses? Let me know in a comment.
Some people develop elaborate backstories for their paper doll designs. I’ve always wished my brain worked that way, but generally I end up tapping into my history background. So, I find my inspiration for each fantasy dress design there. For today’s paper doll design, I was thinking of 14th century medieval dresses of Europe. Dresses back then usually had a kirtle (under-dress) which as worn with a surcoat (over-dress) on top.
When I was working on this fantasy dress design, I wanted an over-dress that would feel more decorated than the under-dress. Basically, the opposite of putting children wore pinafores in the 19th century to keep their dresses clean.
Her chain belt owes something to the 12th century and the leather pouch I copied from this one I saw on Pinterest. I have no idea if that chain belt set up would work in the real world (I suspect not), but I did think it looked neat. And looking neat is really a more important priority in my paper doll drawing universe.
So, I’ve decided to take on The 100 Day Project on Instagram. Basically, I am drawing one dress a day (or more realistically several dresses and spacing them out over several days- I know me) for the next 100 days. If you don’t already follow me on Instagram, you can here. You can also follow the hashtag #100dressesproject if you want to just see what I’ve drawn so far.
Will some of these become paper doll dresses later? I deeply suspect so. But I’m intentionally only spending a few minutes per dress. My goal is under 10 minutes, because this is a thing I’m doing on the side. It is not my life.
Also, I have an alternative color scheme for today’s gown on Patreon for anyone who’d like to view it. It’s not just for Patrons this time. 🙂
Since the Dames & Dandies are a new series, one of my goals is to try to get a paper doll outfit done for the holidays. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but when I was a child, my grandmother would send us holiday cards with paper dolls in them all the time. Here is a scan of one, I remember getting. I’m sure it says something about me that I can remember that card after 20 something years.
Anyhow, I love drawing over the top heart covered gowns for Valentine’s Day paper dolls. So, it wasn’t hard to decide to draw this one. I’ve been working on an 18th century paper doll with period underwear, so I thought I would design a dress that could go over the set of hoops. That’s how we ended up with this over the top rococo influenced Valentine’s Day paper doll dress.
By the way, I have no idea when that 18th century doll will be done. So, don’t hold your breath.
Meanwhile, I hope everyone has an amazing Valentine’s Day!
When I was first drawing and prepping content for the new Dames and Dandies series, I made a list of what I thought might be the first nine clothing sets to draw for the new paper dolls. Both my Patrons and folks who follow me on Facebook got to see this list at the top of which was “Winter Big Princess Gown.”
For those of you who don’t know, “big gown” is my short hand for these sorts of full skirted over the top dresses I am fond of drawing. Wenesday’s Valentine’s Day dress is another “big gown”. I just like to draw things with huge skirts, because the size of the skirt allows for layering and over skirts and all sorts of other decorative elements.
It’s hard to draw a super over the top mini-dress. You just don’t have as much room.
So, anyway, I wanted to create a winter princess dress. You know, a sort of over the top, full skirted dress that would feel like the sort of thing a fairy tale princess might wear while wandering through a snow covered landscape. Possibly to meet a prince or possibly just because, she felt like it. Princes need not always be involved.
Today’s winter princess dress is trimmed in fur. The bodice feels a little military influenced, with the trimming, buttons and cuffs. The skirt is three layers. There’s an over skirt, an under skirt and a wide pleated bottom skirt.
The motif on the over skirt is supposed to be a snowflake, but I’m not sure that’s obvious. In fact, the first color scheme had a gold snowflake and it looked more like a star to me. So, I ended up recoloring the whole dress. I was thinking of snowy winter days when I colored this- blue-grey is a color I associate with the winter time.
The first dress I designed was the lily ball gown, but this dress is what turned that dress from just as “this would be fun to draw” into a “oh, I could make this a series”. So, I really think of today’s Beatrix princess paper doll as the inspiration behind the whole week.
When I was planning the Dames and Dandies series, I new I was going to have a stable set of “faces”, but I wanted those faces to have many versions. So, this is Version 2 of Beatrix– The Bellflower Princess Paper Doll version.
Also, huge shout out to my Mom, who when I was describing the flower I was remembering from the garden as a child, recalled the name of it and spelled it correctly enough for me to goggle it. The formal name for bellflowers is Campanula, by the way, which is what she told me.
I just thought Campanula Princess didn’t roll off the tongue as well as Bellflower Princess, hence the name change.
In the order of this princess paper doll design, the dress came first. Once I had it drawn, I wanted a crown and I came up with the idea of the flowers coming out from a pair of buns.
Once I had that idea in my head, I had to figure out how to actually create in a way that would work for someone cutting out the paper doll. So, I drew the hair style and the crown pieces separately.
Than, I used Photoshop to create one version of Beatrix with out the crown and second version with the crown. So, the hair with the crown can be cut out and placed over the hair without the crown.
This also assures that this version of Beatrix can wear a hat without floral crown pieces getting in the way.
I don’t often share my process photos here, because I try to save them for my Patrons. So, if you want to see more images of the raw beginnings of paper doll sets, than donate and join Patreon. I try to post a few “behind the scenes” images every month. I also put them up on Instagram erratically.