Joy: An 18th Century Historical Paper Doll Set

A Link to Joy, an 18th Century historical paper doll with a riding habit and historical undergarments. Today’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.

Link to Victoria, a Valentine's Day printable paper doll in black and white for coloring
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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.

A paper doll with fashions from between 1740 and 1750. Her hair is styled in a tight series of rolled curls known as a
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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

A Link to a page of 18th century gowns for paper dolls in full color Today, 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.

Link to Victoria, a Valentine's Day printable paper doll in black and white for coloring
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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.

A paper doll with fashions from between 1740 and 1750. Her hair is styled in a tight series of rolled curls known as a
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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.

Debuting my 18th Century Historical Paper Doll Set with Faith

A Link to an 18th Century historical paper doll with a riding habit and historical undergarments. Sometimes, 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.”

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.

Link to Victoria, a Valentine's Day printable paper doll in black and white for coloring
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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.

A paper doll with fashions from between 1740 and 1750. Her hair is styled in a tight series of rolled curls known as a
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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. :)

Ragamuffin Girl: Steampunk Paper Doll

Ragamuffin Girl. I previewed this paper doll back in April, but even when I previewed it, the paper doll set had been sitting in my sketchbook for a month or more. I was dreading work on it, not because I didn’t like the paper doll, but because the idea of coloring all the detail was terrifying.

So, last week, when I was finally out of everything else I had drawn for Marisole Monday & Friends that I could feed the blog, I found myself finally tackling this paper doll set. Sometimes I have to be forced into these things.

All right, so inspirations for today’s paper doll set include the film Newsies and that’s really about it. Though I confess I do rather see today’s version of Mia hanging out with my airship mechanic Marcus. I mean they both have tools and newsboy caps.

Ragamuffin Girl
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I try to create for all my Marisole Monday & Friend’s paper dolls somewhat evenly. Currently though, this is only Mia’s second set this year. That puts her behind well… everyone else. So, she’ll get some more love soon though since I’ve got a ballerina set in the works for her and Monica. (Yes, I tackled my fear of tutus.)

Today’s paper doll set will, of course, be up in color next week and then… I have no idea what’s next, actually. Probably ballerinas.

Alien Fashions for the Ms. Mannequin Paper Dolls

Link to sci-fi inspired fashions from the Ms. Mannequin paper doll series. Part of the Ms. Mannequin series, any of those paper dolls can wear these intergalactic fashions Yesterday, I posted Xylra my new alien paper doll and I wanted to get her fashions up today. Not just because I think they are neat, but because I have been rather neglectful of the blog this July and if I post these this week then I won’t feel so guilty.

Blog guilt is a powerful motivating factor in my life.

Xylra is a fashionable intergalatic astrophysist and I confess I have no idea how practical any of these pieces would be for someone studying astrophysics. Truth be told, I have no idea what an astrophysicist does all day, but then I suppose most astrophysicists probably don’t know what Special Collection librarians do all day which makes us even. (For those of you who haven’t read my about page, I am a Special Collection librarian when I’m not drawing paper dolls.)

Anyway, one of my rules with paper dolls is to avoid being bogged down by practicality or common sense when designing fantasy or sci-fi clothing. A rule I haven’t violated here.

Sci-fi inspired paper doll clothes from the Ms. Mannequin paper doll series in black and white for coloring. Part of the Ms. Mannequin series, any of those paper dolls can wear these intergalactic fashionsSci-fi inspired paper doll clothes from the Ms. Mannequin paper doll series. Part of the Ms. Mannequin series, any of those paper dolls can wear these intergalactic fashions
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I did want to take a moment and talk about the colors in today’s set of paper doll clothes. Originally, I was planning on a more traditional cyberpunk color scheme, but I wanted to see if I would work with colors that I actually didn’t like. Perhaps an odd mental exercise, but important, I think, to growing as an artist. I considered doing two coloring jobs, one with colors I liked and one with colors I didn’t, but once I’d colored the paper doll clothes with my “ugly color scheme”, I found that I actually rather liked them. Perhaps spending time with the colors softened me up towards them or perhaps I just didn’t want to recolor the whole thing. Either way, enjoy my foray into an “ugly color scheme” and if you don’t like it, well… there’s a black and white version for a reason. Enjoy!

Isadora Goes to the Ball: A Fantasy Princess Printable Paper Doll Coloring Page

Link to a fantasy paper doll coloring page with three dresses: Isadora Goes to the Ball. As part of the Mini-Maidens series, Isadora can share clothing with any of the other Mini-Maiden paper doll. This is not an Independence Day paper dolls, but I have some links to a few down at the bottom of the post. This is a princess paper doll.

Let’s be honest for a moment: A lot of the appeal of princesses lies in their glorious dresses.

We all know intellectually that being a princess would kinda suck. (There’s a great video about this by Amy Schumer.) You’d have to marry someone who you likely didn’t choose. Your value would be entirely defined in your ability to produce an heir. Also, that person you would marry might end up being your cousin.

Never the less, your wardrobe would rock.

So, I’m not sure if Isadora would be a princess, because she doesn’t have a crown. Do princesses need crowns? I suppose they should if they are coronated. But once they get coronated than are they actually queens?

Royal stuff is complicated.


black and white black printable paper doll with a contemporary wardrobe
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These three gowns are all ball-gowns in my head, but the glory of paper dolls is that we can choose what they are. Maybe these are what Isadora wears to the grocery store. Actually, if I had these dresses, I might wear them to the grocery store, though I have been told that driving in a hoop-skirt is really difficult.

So, this is the fourth of July or Independence Day in the USA. I did not, however, get a thematic paper doll done. If you wish for one, then I recommend Hazel’s 4th of July set, my Marisole Monday & Friends 18th century 4th of July set or Marisole Monday’s Nautical set which, while not technically 4th of July related, does have a red white and blue color scheme.

Promenade and Play: Victorian Paper Doll Clothes for the Poppets

Victorian paper doll clothes So, life this week has been a roller coaster of sickness and travel, but I promised a second page of clothes for Peach in the Park to expand her Victorian paper doll wardrobe and I am pleased to say that here they are.

In no real order, in this set of paper doll clothes there is a promenade dress or afternoon dress, a gymnastics outfit and a set of underwear consisting of a chemise, drawers and a stayband or corset. She also has a pair of shoes with stockings and a ballgown for her doll. It is entirely possible that the doll’s little ballgown is my favorite piece of the entire set, though drawing that small was a challenge. (Seriously, the doll is like two inches tall in real life. I kid you not.)

I drew these designs based on illustrations from several different Victorian fashion magazines including Harpers Bazaar and La Mode Illustre, which as French. I highly recommend Dover’s excellent books of fashion plate reprints when working on Victorian period fashions- they bring a richness to the process of research that is of great value. Plus it’s fun to draw surrounded by open books (at least, I think it is fun.)

Medieval inspired fantasy outfits for the Poppet paper dolls coloring pagesVictorian Paper Doll and Dress from the 1870s in black and white for coloring
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By the late 1860s, early 1870s, sporting activities were encouraged for children. Gymnastic’s costumes like the one in brown are often shown in magazines along with yachting and skating outfits. While it is hard to imagine a child really running around in the bustled up skirts of the era, it is possible to imagine them doing so in one of these more practical outfits.

I also think it is important to remember that while fashion magazines show perfectly coifed children, actual children’s garments are often more worn and simpler. Kid’s did get out in play even in the 1800s and parents did not dress them like little adults, despite what my fashion history teacher told me. The length of a girl’s skirt indicated her age. The poppets are, in my mind, between the ages of 8 and 11, so their skirts are mid-calve. The skirts would slowly lower until maturity when they would be floor length for many, thought not all, activities.

As a reminder, because I forget this sometimes too- any of the Poppet paper dolls can wear any of the other Poppet paper doll’s clothing. So, while I was thinking of Peach when I made these outfits, they could also be worn by Petunia, Paradisea, Poppy, Posey, Petal, or Primrose.

That is a lot of P names.

Anyway, enjoy the Victorian paper doll outfits.

Greta’s Trousseau: Spring Costumes

So, way back in December of 2013, I started a project called Greta’s Trousseau with this post. The idea was that I would draw a complete trousseau for a paper doll inspired by neo-Victorian and steampunk styles. This is the sixth page of Greta’s Trousseau. I don’t think it’s the last one, but we maybe getting close.

Link to a contemporary asian paper doll coloring page with an extensive wardrobe entitled: Faye's Fashionable Geometrics. As part of the Mini-Maidens series, Faye can share clothing with any of the other Mini-Maiden paper doll.

Today, Greta has a carriage dress, a visiting toilette, a dinner dress, afternoon costume and morning dress. Her Carriage Dress is based on two gowns from Harper’s Bazar in 1873. One a watering place costume, published in the June 28, 1873 issue and the other a Carriage dress published in the July 5th issue of that same year. Harpers Bazar is a publication which is a little hard to find online. I used Dover’s book of reprinted fashion plates edited by Stella Blum, but you can see some issues of Harpers Bazar from the Home Economics Archive and others from the Hathi Trust. Hathi Trust has better image quality, but does not include the 1873 year.

Anyway, her visiting toilette has an additional hat, as does her carriage dress. Her dinner dress and afternoon costume are the same skirt with two different bodices, a common practice in the Victorian era. Her morning dress is, of course, the most simple gown she has and with it she has slippers, stockings and some correspondence.


black and white black printable paper doll with a contemporary wardrobe
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My goal was to create the massive wardrobe of an absurdly wealthy fashion obsessed neo-Victorian lady. Currently, Greta has sporting outfits including swimming, fencing, hunting, skating and riding. She has a seaside walking dress, two traveling suits, and clothing for exploring or hiking. For formal occasions, she has a ballgown with two bodices, opera toilette and two dinner dresses. For visiting, she has two outfits. There is a walking suit and a promenade costume. For the afternoons, she has an afternoon costume and a tea dress. For quiet days at home, she has a house dress and a morning dress. For the very rare occasion she might need one, she has a wedding dress and a diving suit.

Here is the rest of Greta’s paper trousseau in case anyone missed a page or something.

Sweet & Saucy in Color: A printable paper doll

A printable paper doll of a young black woman with a brightly colored wardrobe Last week, I talked about where this paper doll set was inspired from. This week, I want to talk a bit about color choices.

Color scares a lot of people. It scares me too. Truthfully, I use a lot of tools to help me develop color schemes. Some are as simple as searching Colour Lovers for a theme, but other times I use tools from ColourLovers to calculate diferent types of color schemes. My other favorite color scheme website is Design Seeds.

Normally, I try to keep my color schemes to five or six colors. There just aren’t enough pieces in the average paper doll set to justify more colors then than that. Even today’s set with all the pattern has only seven different colors, not including the warm soft brown of her skin tone. Choosing a skintone color is actually just as important as selecting a color scheme, because depending on the surrounding colors, all colors look different. I tend to think of the skintone choice as part of the color scheme selection, just as much as I am picking out colors for clothing, but I do try to keep to my palette, except with Asian skintones that generally have a strong yellow undertone. That can be very hard to not look jaundiced, so there’s often trial and error when I am coloring those paper dolls.

A printable paper doll of a young black woman with a brightly colored wardrobe
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In today’s paper doll, I knew I wanted a rainbow scheme and I wanted it to feel a little bit like candy- bright and sweet colors. Pink stands in for my red, but other then that I have a purple, a blue, a yellow, an orange and a green. White acts as a neutral, rather than black, and that keeps the set feeling light and bright. The only black appears as the soles of her boots. Her nails are multicolored as are her hair ties to keep the sense of mismatched style.

I really am quite pleased with how she turned out.

Country Lolita inspired Paper Doll Clothes

Like to Chloe an Asian paper doll with two pairs of shoes in black and white and color. Part of the Ms. Mannequin series, she can wear any of the Ms. Mannequin clothing There’s something about Lolita style clothes that I find appealing. I think part of it is that I love the Victorian inspired details of the outfits, but I also think it’s fascinating to see how a non-Western culture like Japan interprets Western European and American Victorian children’s clothing into something for adults.

There is a tendency when we talk about cultural adaptations to speak strictly of Western nations adapting Asian clothing and there’s a lot of great research on that topic, but non-Western countries are also adapting Western dress and transforming the meaning into something entirely different for their cultural needs. I find this back and forth to be one of the more interesting aspects of cultural contact.

To paraphrase Terry Pratchett, the act of observation doesn’t just change the object being observed, it also can change the observer. (Soul Music I think… but maybe Reaper Man… Can’t recall which at the moment.)

Plus, you know, pretty clothes.

So, Lolita, like any good alt-fashion scene, has many sub-genres that are confusing to me, as an outsider. Never the less, I did some research and wanted to so something in the County Lolita sub-genre. If regular Lolita is all about puffy skirts and ruffles, Country Lolita seems to be all about puffy skirts and gingham. Here’s a blog devoted to the style called, Country Lolita and here’s a post about Country Lolita from F Yeah Lolita, a great Lolita blog. (There is not gingham here… I can’t draw it to save my life.)

Chloe an Asian paper doll with two pairs of shoes in black and white. Part of the Ms. Mannequin series, she can wear any of the Ms. Mannequin clothing

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I wanted to play with the style, but I wouldn’t say my interpretation is strictly accurate. It’s more about seeing what happens when I try something new and the excuse to draw some giant cherries.

Honestly, I think I had mixed success. The yellow skirt has a better shape than the blue skirt. Both the cherry and the apple pattern came out cute and feel bright and country to me, but border prints are super popular it sems and . I wish I had gone with a darker blue to balance out of the pale yellow, but I’m not sure about that. When I look at it, sometimes I like it and sometimes I don’t. I settled on knee socks rater then tights, because I thought they would fit better on the page. I do want to know how you all think I did, so there’s a poll…

How did I do on my Country Lolita?

  • I have no idea what Country Lolita looks like... (58%, 21 Votes)
  • Nailed it! (33%, 12 Votes)
  • Not so much... Should have used gingham (8%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 36

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By the way, there is a doll to go with this set. She’ll be up sometime next week.

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