My OPDAG Paper Doll: A Foray Into Home Sewing Patterns of the 1940s

A paper doll with dresses from home sewing patterns from the year 1944 produced by Simplicity Patterns.

|PDF of My 1944 Paper Doll To Print |

I wanted to create a 1940s fashion paper doll around a theme, because honesty, I work better when I think in terms of theme, but I struggled a little to come up with an idea. After the paper doll was published in Paper Doll Studio Magazine, I had a great conversation with Julie of Paper Doll School and she suggested I should add some sort frame or something in the background. I have to admit, I do think it makes for a much more visually compelling paper doll.

My 1944 Simplicity Patterns Paper Doll

After some thought, I settled on picking a single source for the doll’s wardrobe and what source could be better than sewing pattern covers?

Anyone whose followed the blog for any length of time knows how much I love sewing pattern covers.

Sewing patterns are a great source for vintage clothing, because they often take the high end designs that were showing up on runways and tone them down for a home audience. In a time where it really was cheaper to sew your own clothing, sewing pattern companies competed to bring the trendiest designs to market.

I chose to focus on Simplicity, because I find Simplicity designs of this era tend to be less high fashion than some of the other brands.

My source patterns were Simplicity 1005, view 2, Simplicity 1047, view 1, Simplicity 1009, view 2, and Simplicity 1040, view 2. Her slip comes from Simplicity 1144, view 2. Additionally, her hats and other accessories were drawn from the illustrations on these pattern covers.

I’m currently working on my contribution for the Renaissance theme for Issue 126. For those of you who know my paper doll poses well, while this 1944 uses the same base pose as my Spites paper dolls, I scaled her differently and I don’t think she can share clothing.

Opal in the 1950s

A 1950s fashion paper doll in period underwear with three pairs of shoes. She can wear any of the Jewels and Gemstones paper doll clothing including the 1950s outfits.

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Thoughts on Today’s Paper Doll
I love 1950’s fashion. So, clearly I wanted to make a 1950s fashion paper doll. I think it is one of the most beautiful eras of women’s clothing and probably that’s because I have a very 1950s figure myself. I tend to look good in 1950s dresses. Besides that, I think it’s sort of the last era where there’s really an idea of dressing for an occasion. There’s very clear lines in what is “casual” and what is “formal” and where things can be worn.

While I very much don’t want to live in the 1950s (I like that I can’t be fired from my job for getting pregnant), I really do love the idea of having outfits for different activities. Maybe it’s because I never feel like I know what to wear to anything and would love it if it was more clear cut.

I chose Opal for the model, in part because I never saw non-white historical paper dolls as a child and I try to be more diverse, especially in my historical paper doll creations.

Inspiration for Today’s Paper Doll
Okay, let’s start with shoes, because I love shoes. The sources for these shoes were all from the Met except one pair. So, these shoes, these ones and these ones all come from there. The middle pair is the outlier and it comes from LACMA and these are the source image.

Now, let’s talk underwear. Our 1950s fashion paper doll, Opal, is wearing a girdle and strapless bra combination. In order to make sure she could share clothing with Sapphire from the 1950s, I matched the shapes of their underwear. Opal’s girdle is based on this 1950’s American one and her brassier is based on this 1950s French model, both from The Met.

Opal’s hair is a nod to Ava Gardner’s short hair style (she had a few) which you can see here and here. I’ll confess I don’t think it came out quite as I’d hoped it would.

Specific Source Images:There’s a lot here, so here we go- this girdle, this brassier, these shoes, these shoes, these shoes, these shoes and this hair.

Learn/See More
On the Blog: More Jewels & Gemstones paper dolls & More 1950s Fashion for Paper Dolls
Around the Internet: Claricia Psalter from the Late 12th Century

Last Thoughts
I wanted to collect up all the 1950s paper doll dresses I’ve created for the blog and put them together, so you can easily grab some clothing for poor Opal here whose just in her undergarments. If you’re a 2 dollar and up Patron, there’s two more- a suit and a day dress both from the 1950s.

1950s Fashion Paper Dolls for the Jewels & Gemstones

Do you like the 1950s? Let me know in a comment. It is one of my favorite eras. Do you have a favorite decade for 20th century fashion?

1955 Summer Dress With Hat and Purse

A lovely Mid-1950s Summer Dress with hat. The dress is from Vogue in 1955. The hat is from Montgomery Ward in 1950. The purse is from Sears.

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Thoughts on Today’s Paper Doll
There’s a few silhouettes one tends to associate with retro 50s fashion. There’s the tight waisted, full skirt look (like this) or the narrow fitted suit look (like this). There’s also a few variations on this and one of those variation is the dropwaist version of the full skirted look.

A dropwaist is when the waist (aka seam where the bodice meets the skirt) is lower than the natural waist on a person. A highwaist is when the waist is raised above the natural waist, but below the bust. An empire waist is when the waist of a dress is located right under the bust.

More than you maybe wanted to know about fashion terminology. I digress.

Inspiration for Today’s Paper Doll
Summer is coming rapidly to Alabama. I love the Fall in Alabama and I like the Winter. I could leave the Summer without any sense of guilt at all. It’s hot and humid and my allergies are exploding. Ugh!

Anyway, I always think women in retro spring fashion ads look so wonderfully cool and calm and it probably sucked living in Alabama in the 1950s when air conditioning was rare and petticoats were common. None the less, I loved the concept if not the reality.

Specific Source Images: Vogue 8596, Montgomery Ward Spring/Summer 1950 hats pages and Sears (I used Everyday Fashions of the Fifties As Pictured in Sears Catalogs)

Learn/See More
On the Blog: More Jewels & Gemstones paper dolls & More 1950s Paper Dolls
Around the Internet: Closet Historian regularly posts images from vintage catalogs in her collection and they are fascinating.

Last Thoughts
I’ve done two more 1950’s paper doll dresses and shared them with my Patrons. They are a 1950s suit and 1950s day dress. Join Us on Patreon if you’d like to support the blog (and get more paper doll content!)

Also, if you’re thinking- Well, I wish I had a 1950s paper doll to wear this stylin’ 1950s dress, I’ve made a version of the ever delightful Sapphire in 1950’s underwear. So, you can print her, but, as always, this dress will fit any of the Jewels & Gemstones paper dolls. Retro 50s fashion is so popular right now.

Suit From the Mid-1950s

A fitted suit from 1956 with bucket hat and matching necklace. Free to print from paperthinpersonas.com.

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Thoughts on Today’s Paper Doll
When I think of the 1950s, I think of suits and dresses. Sure, pants and shorts existed, but I always think of crisp suits and soft dresses. So, I knew I wanted to do a suit or two.

There’s really two fashionable shapes for suits in the 1950s. One is tight and sleek. The other is a fitted bodice and a full skirt as in Dior’s New Look.

Personally, I love both.

Today’s suit though is of the tight skirted variety.

Inspiration for Today’s Paper Doll
I was really intrigued by this pattern from Advance, because I am always am fascinated by the idea of separates in the past. It’s an idea that has been around for as long as I think women have been getting dressed. You can see the concept as far back as the 18th century when different jackets would be paired with different skirts. I suspect you could trace it back further, but I never have attempted too.

Specific Source Images: Advance 8114

Learn/See More
On the Blog: More Jewels & Gemstones paper dolls &  more paper dolls from the 1950s
Around the Internet: Since I mentioned Dior’s New Look, you can read more here .

Last Thoughts
My lovely supporters on Patreon will be getting another suit on Friday. So, be sure to check that out if you’re a patron.

Additionally, I am considering doing another 100 day project this year. Last year, I drew 100 dresses and took pictures of them on Instagram. You can see them all here.

Summer Dress from 1951 with Hat & Purse

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Thoughts on Today’s Paper Doll
Vintage clothing, like the 1950s, are fascinating to me, because really women’s clothing hasn’t dramatically changed in the last 80 years or so. So, I think what makes the 1950s really the 1950s are the accessories- the hats, purses and gloves that women don’t wear anymore.

Inspiration for Today’s Paper Doll
I wanted to draw a summer day dress when I stumbled across these digitized images from Montgomery Ward Spring Summer 1950 catalogs posted by the Closet Historian. Basically, I wanted an excuse to draw one of those fantastic straw hats.

Specific Source Images: Simplicity 3572, Montgomery Ward Spring Summer 1950 catalog and this purse from the Met.

Learn/See More
On the Blog: More Jewels & Gemstones paper dolls &  more paper dolls from the 1950s
Around the Internet: Check out the Vintage Pattern Wiki for more 1950s and other vintage pattern goodness.

Last Thoughts
Because I might be a tiny bit OCD, the green in today’s dress matches the green in the sandals from this set.

Patreon on Friday will also be a 1950s dress. Also, I think this is a collab Friday, but I haven’t even drawn mine yet. I should get on that.

Sapphire & The 1950s

A curvy black paper doll with historical underwear from the 1950s and three pairs of shoes. Her underwear and shoes come from various museum collections. Her short black hair is styled based on black actresses and singers of the 1950s.

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Thoughts on Today’s Paper Doll
Some themes I know I want to explore from the very beginning of a paper doll project and this was one of those themes. I knew I wanted to do a 1950s paper doll.

I love 1950s clothing. Also, historical paper dolls are what I mostly collect and were my favorites as a child. So, it is a win-win all around for me.

Inspiration for Today’s Paper Doll
I really wanted to start with a basic set of underwear (strapless to accommodate evening gowns) and four pairs of shoes. I wanted the shoes to be mix and match-able with the dresses I designed around the same time (I’ll be sharing those later.)

One of my favorite tricks for hair from this era (or any time in the last 90 years) is to chose from actresses in Hollywood. Not only did actresses set the hairstyles of their time, but they are often more racially diverse than models in magazines or catalogs (until 1970 when that improves a bit).

For Sapphire’s hair, I based her style off the hair styles worn by Dorothy Dandridge and Leana Horne in the 1950s. Dorothy Dandridge was an actress who died young, sadly. Lena Horne was a wildly successful singer who did some acting, but mostly was known for her singing.

Specific Source Images: These shoes, these shoes, these shoes and these sandals all from The Met. This corset from the V&A. Photos of Lena Horne and Dorothy Dandridge (Here’s the same hair again on Dorothy Dandridge in 1954). I like it when I see the same hairstyle on several actresses, because then I know it wasn’t just a quirk of one woman, but something several women chose to wear.

Learn/See More
On the Blog: More Jewels & Gemstones paper dolls &  more paper dolls from the 1950s
Around the Internet: Check out The Met and The V&A, both of which have great costume collections. Also, check out my 1950s fashion Pinterest Board.

Last Thoughts
I had a lot of fun creating a “set” of clothing for Sapphire, so tune in for the next few days. I’ll be sharing 1950s fashions. It’s going to be super fun.

Want an extra paper doll or dress each week? Than join us on Patreon.

1960s Dresses from the Pages of Sears

A pair of 1960s paper doll dress straight from the pages of vintage Sears catalogs. Both dresses are available in color or black and white.
Printable Black & White PDF Printable Color PDF More Paper Dolls & Clothes

First off, I know this is Christmas Eve and while I don’t celebrate, I wanted wish a Merry Christmas to everyone who does. I hope your holiday is full of laughter, joy and a minimum of family drama.

And now… paper dolls!

If you’re interested in the history of clothing (as I am), Sears catalogs are a goldmine. Unlike the fashion magazines which often show the latest styles of the top designers, Sears (and others) show what most women actually wore day to day. The pricing and color information also provide a valuable window into how much items cost and what sorts of colors were popular.

Due to copyright, full reproductions of Sears catalogs aren’t always possible, but Dover has a series of books that reprint selected pages. Everyday Fashions of the Sixties As Pictured in Sears Catalogs was the source for today’s dresses.  The dress on the left is from 1967 Sears catalog and the dress on the right is from 1960.

The purse is from 1960 and you can see it on The Met’s website.

On a slightly sad note, today’s post is the last Dames & Dandies post for a while. There have been over 120 Dames & Dandies paper doll posts, so there’s plenty to explore there.

For the first quarter of 2019, I plan to be working on a new series called Jewels & Gemstones (yes, the ampersand is my favorite piece of punctuation). I am super excited about this new series and it will debut on December 31st. Wednesday, there will be a longer preview post and Friday the last of the Paper Doll Collaborative 2018 will post.

Questions? Ask me in a comment and I will reply.

Need some clothing for today’s paper doll? All the A Pose Dolls & Clothing

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