Debuting my 18th Century Historical Paper Doll Set with Faith

logo-faith-1700sSometimes, I get started on projects and they don’t seem “insane” and then a few weeks later I find myself further into them and I am thinking, “Was I crazy to start this?” and, of course, “Will this ever be done?”

So, over the next seven weeks on every Friday, I will be sharing pieces from a historical paper doll project that started with a simple, “I should draw some 18th century clothing for the Pixies.”

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It kinda grew a bit unexpectedly.

My original plan was to do three Pixie paper dolls, all with different skin-tones, and each would focus on the first part, middle part and then last part of the 18th century.

No plan, as they say, survives contact with the enemy.

Instead of three clearly defined sets, I ended up with three paper dolls and four pages of dresses and only one set, my late 18th century set, seemed clear cut. So, I did what any rational paper doll artist would do, I said, “Meh. I’m just going to go forward anyway.”

Today I am pleased to present the first of my three Pixie paper dolls and for the next six weeks, each Friday, there will be another Pixie paper doll or a set of dresses for the 18th century Pixies.

As you can see from my 18th Century Color Palette graphic above, I knew I wanted to use a consistent color palette through all of these seven pages of paper dolls. I chose to based my colors on a stomacher, also from the V&A Museum. I wanted all the colors to be fairly soft, but also rich, reminiscent of what you see in portraits of the era.

Today, I am pleased to present Faith, the first of this seven week series.

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Faith wear’s her hair in a style known as tête de mouton (or “sheep’s head”) and it was extremely popular in the 1750s. She, of course, has her hair powdered, through powder was not universally worn, despite what some people seem to think. Her underwear consists of stays and hoops. As with many of my forays into historical underwear, her undergarments won’t fit under all the dresses of this set. Her stays are based on Stays from the V&A Museum . These type of wide narrow hoops were usually used to support the wide skirted formal gowns of the 18th century, but Faith doesn’t have a formal gown on this page. Instead, she has a riding habit. Her riding habit is based on Riding Habit from the V&A museum dated between 1750 and 1759. Her small hat is a combination of a hat from the Met Museum and the hat in this portrait of Princess Marie-Thérèse-Louise de Savoie-Carignan which was sold at Christie’s.

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The colors of her garments were, of course, influenced by the original riding habit, but also by the stomacher I showed above. I wanted a consistent color scheme across all these paper doll pages, for maximum mix and matching possibilities. Playability, a word I am not sure is a word, is something that I value very highly in my paper dolls. While I rarely cut them out and actually play with them, I like to think about how people would cut them out if they were going to do so.

Tune in next Friday for a page of dresses and then the next week a paper doll and then a page of dresses and then… well, you get the idea. 🙂

Her Ladyship’s Riding Habit and Archery Costume

ladyship-wig-3I remember my surprise when I first found out that archery was considered a socially acceptable sport for women of wealth in the 18th century.

Never the less, women have been doing archery for many years and I wanted to make sure that Her Ladyship had some sporting attire. So, I selected two sports I knew have long been considered “okay” for women of means- riding and archery.

(Plus the Hunger Games gave archery this strange new allure amongst the young folk, or so I am told.)

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In page three here, we have the riding habit on the left, complete with hat and a slightly shorter skirt that would have been useful on a horse. I should add that I have never ridden a horse. In fact, horses are huge and they kinda scare me.

Her archery costume was inspired by similar costumes from the Regency period. I don’t know how practical it would be for archery, but I really think practicality is over-rated and paper dolls never complain.

Regency Pixies and Happy Birthday Hans Christian Andersen

logo-regency 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 dresses) 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?

Steampunk Paper Doll Trousseau: Greta’s Sporting Costumes

Today, we have some sporting outfits for our steampunk paper doll bride. Since the fun of Victorian trousseaux (or should it be neo-victorian trousseaux?) are their costumes for every occasion, I had a lot of fun thinking up outfits for Greta to wear while she did a few different sports. Being a highly talented paper doll, I’m sure no sport is beyond her skill (and I have a few more sporting outfits planned- though perhaps not for a while).

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Greta has a steampunk/neo-victorian inspired riding habit, a hunting costume, a skating toilette and a fencing toilette. What else could a steampunk paper doll bride want? (Okay, more outfits, but I am working on that. 🙂 )

Wealthy women have actually been involved in sporting activities for longer than most people think. Archery teams in the Regency were regularly co-ed. I’ve been 18th century illustrations of women doing archery, but I’m not sure women actually did it that often, sepcially since a lot of those illustrations are intended to be erotic- oh, the scandal. Women had been riding horses forever and in the South, prior to the Civil War, hunting or shooting was a common activity for women of wealth. By the 1900s, women could choose between tennis, golf, bicycling, skating, croquet and a variety of other sporting events.


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My favorite is the fencing toilette. Someone asked for a fencing outfit (a long time ago) and I don’t know much (anything) about fencing, but I had a lot of fun drawing it. I suspect having open laces on the sides of your leggings is not… you know… very practical, but what’s the fun of drawing steampunk fashions if they have to be practical?

Here is the rest of Greta’s paper trousseau. My question to everyone is, what sorts of outfits should I add to Greta’s expanding steampunk paper doll trousseau?

Fashion Doll Friday: Flora’s Riding Habit and Day Dress

The dress on the left is based on a Hyde Park walking costume, but I think it should be a riding habit since I haven’t seen many very good riding habits from this period. Also, the hat amuses me pretty deeply. The Hyde Park walking costume is a fashion plate from the Casey Fashion Plate Index.

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There’s a new-ish paper doll blog called Silent Moonstone which features some darling paper dolls. They sent me a very nice email asking about how I color Marisole and Pixie. The short answer is that I use a combination of Photoshop and a filter called the B-Pelt Filter. Someday, I might make a tutorial with a long answer, but for now that’s how I do it.

Oh, and I suggest people check back on Sunday. There’s something fairly exciting happening here on Sunday. Okay…. I think it’s exciting… no one else might.

Fashion Doll Fridays: Florence’s Riding Habit

A riding habit for Florence from the 1870s.

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It’s so humid here, I feel as though I live in a pond, under water, fully dressed. Kinda makes me unhappy. On the flip side, I have a riding habit here. I have to confess I’ve only ridden a horse two times in my life and am sort of scared of them.

They are very large. Also, they always seem to be planning something.

However, riding was a typical and socially acceptable activity in the Victorian era and a good excuse to wear boots with tassels on them. Interestingly enough, riding habits were one of the only things Victorian women bought from tailors, not seamstresses. Partly because of this, they always have obviously masculine influences attached to them- hence the jacket and necktie.

Florence, who can wear this riding habit, can be found over here.