An 1830s Historical Paper Doll Coloring Page Featuring Greta

1830s-greta-logo The 1830s is an era of Western fashion that I have generally found mystifying. Poke bonnets, giant sleeves, caplets are all features of this era of historical dress and none of them have ever really appealed that deeply.

And yet, I am nothing if not someone who like to learn about stuff and sometimes I try to challenge myself. I want to embrace periods of fashion that I don’t really like all that much and so I found myself deciding that this year, I was going to try out the Romantic period.

I would, I told myself, draw a paper doll with 1830s fashions and I would enjoy it!

(Or at least not totally hate it.)

The 1830s are an interesting time fashion wise though. The introduction of the metal eyelet in 1828 means that the 1830s are the first era when corsets were really capable of being laced terribly tightly (metal eyelets can take a lot more stress than handsewn ones) and to make matters more interesting, vulcanized rubber was used in clothing as well for the first time in the 1830s. Innovations all around.

The cage carioline which was used to support skirts in the 1860s doesn’t exist yet, so skirts are held out with horse hair petticoats and horsehair sewn in the hems. That means the silhouette isn’t as full as it would become in a few decades.

A historical fashion coloring page featuring a paper doll and her 1830s wardrobe. Exclusive to paperthinpersonas.com

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All right, so Greta, the paper doll modeling these 1830s outfits has a full set of underwear from this era which includes a chemise, corset, petticoat and sleeve supports. In order to fill out huge leg-o-mutton sleeves of the era, women used a variety of sleeve supports of various sizes. I made hers small so the underwear could easily layer.

She has two dresses. A day dress based on this garment and a ballgown. I swear the ballgown is based on something, but try as I might, I just couldn’t find the reference image I used. So… Trust me? Greta also had a poke bonnet and some false hair styled in the Apollo Knot style.

Women in the 1830s went a little nuts in the hair department. See this fashion plate and you know what I mean.

I hope everyone enjoys this little foray into the 1830s. This is an era I should stick around with? Drop me a comment and let me know!

Also, I am looking for questions to answer in a video about inking paper dolls. So, if you have a question that you’ve always wanted answered, put it in the comments. 🙂

One More House Dress and A Ballgown for Her Ladyship

ladyship-wig-9Wigs are certainly a theme of today’s page for my Her Ladyship printable paper doll set. Also- paper doll ballgowns and house dresses.

One more page after this set and then I’ll post the whole 10 page PDF of the paper doll for anyone to print who might want it. I have had a lot of fun sharing this set over the last few months.

So, last week I talked a bit about coherent sets and how to develop a consistent look for a paper doll set. Today, I wanted to take a moment and talk about the world I imagine Her Ladyship lives in.

First of all, Her Ladyship has money. Likely, serious money. She’d got ballgowns, after all. That means a decent amount of cash. I imagine her world is Renaissance (her clothing was highly influenced by Italian Renaissance fashion) or higher technology. Why you ask?

Because she has casual gowns that are patterned. Patterned textiles require skilled workforce and a considerable investment in equipment and raw materials- silks and wools have to be imported or homegrown (but generally were imported) from England to Italy. So, without a fair bit of weaving technology, that would be out of the question. So, I’m thinking a 15th century to 17th century level of technology. Clothing can tell you a lot about a time and place.

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So, what do I know about this paper dolls world? She’s a wealthy woman living in a time and place when mechanized weaving existed, at least in part. She’s got “house dresses” but they’re far to nice to actually be worn for anything involving mud or dirt.

Sometimes, I stumble across something and feel rather foolish for not having found it earlier. Paper Doll A Day is a blog that seems to be no longer updating. Never the less, I encourage you to go check out the archives. There are some beautiful outfits (I really like this paper doll dress) and some wonderful different paper dolls, including men. Joleene Naylor has been around the internets for a while sharing her paper dolls and I couldn’t be happier to have found her latest website, though I do wish I had found it when it was still updating.

Any other great paper doll sites I’ve been missing? Or thoughts on the world of Her Ladyship?

Her Ladyship’s Winter Toilettes

ladyship-wig-7A cloak, skates and skating outfit for Her Ladyship today.

Sometimes, I think about how liberating ice skating must have been in the 19th century. I think about the insane limitations placed on a lady’s behavior and then I think about ice skating. Socially acceptable and athletic and, probably, very exciting. There weren’t a lot of things you could do as a lady in the old days, but you could ice skate (also ride horses, archery and eventually tennis). I knew, from the beginning, I was going to make Her Ladyship an ice skating toilette.

Here it is… along with a cloak, because everyone needs something warm to wear in the winter time, yes?

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By the way, I have no idea how to make that muff actually “work” as a muff. I was going to add a floating tab for it, but I couldn’t figure out where to put a floating tab that would keep it on her arm. So… I dunno. Maybe it’s just the idea of a muff that matters.

Gowns for Home and Dinner

ladyship-wig-5So, after a short break last week to share something more Halloween themed, I am pleased to present Her Ladyship’s Summer Dinner Dress and an At Home Gown. I really like both these dresses and had a lot of fun with their patterned sections. Normally, I freehand scrolling floral patterns, like the one on her Summer Dinner Dress, but this time I drew segments and then constructed the pattern in Photoshop. I’m not entirely sure it was a more effective method than free handing it.

Honestly, this week hasn’t been a great one for me health-wise, so I am going to keep this post short and then probably crawl back into bed to sleep more. Sleep is nice and my bed is warm.

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I hope everyone has a great weekend. I will sleeping most of mine. 🙂

A Springtime Frock and a Breakfast Gown for Her Ladyship

ladyship-wig-4Fall always seems to come slowly to Alabama. It’s finally here now and I am very happy with the crispness in the air when I pad out of the house in the morning to drive to work. I enjoy this crispness and it makes me want to bake pies or cookies.

Her Ladyship, on the other hand, is strictly spring based this morning with a Spring frock and a Breakfast Gown. Taking my cues from Victorian dress, the Breakfast Gown would be the least formal sort of dress. I’m not sure about the formality of the Spring Frock. I had fun with the wigs in this set and wigs are some of my favorite things to give a paper doll set. I think every set is more fun with wigs.

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I’m still debating if I will post one of these paper doll pages on next Friday or something more Halloween festive. I haven’t got anything ready for Halloween and, unlike Liana who writes wonderful tales about her gowns, I rather don’t have much of a story inspiration. I’m very jealous of the creativity behind the stories behind her paper dolls.

Mine can mostly be boiled down too… “Pretty dress.”

Or in the case of today’s dresses, “Two dresses that I don’t like that much, but posted because they were done and part of the set and I liked the wigs to much to abandon them.

Not really stirring stuff, but perhaps I get points for honesty.

Garden Ballgowns: A Paper Doll and Her Dresses to Print

garden-ballgowns-color-logoAs I explained with the black and white version of today’s paper doll set, both of these paper doll dresses are based on Wa lolita and Qi lolita fashions. I really find fusions of different cultures fashions fascinating, plus sometimes drawing absurd dresses make me happy and Mia doesn’t get as much love as I think she should.

When I draw in black and white, I sometimes dread coloring, especially when the coloring means hyper detailed patterns like those in today’s paper doll dresses. I’ve been doing more playing with color and pattern lately. I like patterns, but they are a lot of work. Even though I usually just draw one motif and use Photoshop to manipulate it on each dress. The size of these pattern motifs made their placement on the dresses important. Though I wanted it to feel organic, I also wanted the detail of the complex patterns to shine through.

No point in drawing complex things if no one can appreciate them, after all. In my mind, that’s like sewing a fantastic wardrobe for an ugly doll… why bother?

An Asian paper doll and her two fantasy ball gowns, three wigs and two pairs of shoes. Inspired by Wa Lolita and Qi Lolita fashions.

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I based the color scheme on this kimono which I found online. Every time I reference kimono, I am reminded of the fantastic posts on Liana’s Paper Doll Blog about Japanese dress. She’s far more an expert of this topic than I.

Personally, I thought it was very a beautiful kimono and I really liked the color combination. What looks black isn’t actually black, it is a very dark purple-red color. I used the same color for her hair. I like doing that, because I think a color scheme should be about making a harmonious set.

Every set should be a complete work, rather than just a collection of clothing pieces and should be able to stand alone, even if it is part of a larger collection of paper dolls. That’s part of my paper doll philosophy. Is it okay to have one of those? Because I totally do.

Garden Ballgowns: A Paper Doll With Wa and Qi Lolita Inspired Dresses

garden-ballgown-logoToday, we have a pair of paper doll ballgowns which were heavily influenced by wa lolita and qi lolita dresses. I showed off the rough sketches last Monday. Wa lolita and qi Lolita are substyles of the Japanese street style Lolita. F Yeah Lolita (a blog I have come to rather enjoy reading) discusses lolita in detail, but I actually think the wikipedia article is nice for people who know nothing about it.

Anyway, both Wa Lolita (influenced by Japanese traditional dress) and Qi Lolita (influenced by Chinese traditional dress) are styles I think are fascinating, because cultural fusion always interests me. However, I try to be careful about how I borrow from cultures which are not my own, because I am very aware of the problematic and complicated issues of cultural appropriation which underlie children’s toys and visual representations of culture. I could ramble on about that topic until… well, for a every long time… but I figure most people are really here for the printable paper dolls, so I’ll restrain myself.

A paper doll coloring page and her two fantasy ballgowns, three wigs and two pairs of shoes. Inspired by Wa and Qi Lolita dresses.

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A few of my ideas came from this dress by FanplusFreind and this dress, also by FanplusFriend. I first discovered qi lolita through this dress which is actually a doll’s dress. The shoes are just sort of random inventions, though the ones on the right with the stockings were influenced by rocking horse shoes which are pretty cool (though maybe hard to walk in… I don’t know, I’ve never worn them.)

I can’t wait to share these in color next week, though I openly confess the pattern on the left dress is giving me fits. Every-time I do a complicated pattern, I swear I will never do it again and then… well… I do it again. Isn’t insanity doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results?

Oh, and before I forget, the fast of Ramadan officially ends this evening I think, so Happy Eid al-Fitr to any of my readers who are Muslim. I don’t know much about Ramadan, but the mosque by my apartment has been busier than usual this month.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! A Paper Doll!

st-patrick-logo-margotToday, Margot is celebrating St. Patrick’s Day!

St. Patrick’s Day is a festive holiday celebrating the life of St. Patrick and Irish hertiage and the excuse to drink a lot of beer, some of it dyed green. Despite being a Saint’s Day, there’s not usually a lot of religion in the celebrations (at least not a lot that I’ve seen…)

Normally I when I do a color and a black and white version together, they are both pretty small. I decided to try out a different formatting option this time. First we have the full color version and then, a little further below, the black and white version.


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I decided it would be fun to do some historical St. Patrick’s Day costumes, so Margot has an early 18th- Century mantua gown on the far right covered in clovers. The mantua was in style until about the 1740s when it got replaced by other styles, but it was very much popular in the early part of the century. The first USA celebration of St. Patrick’s Day occured in Boston in 1737, so a mantua made sense.

Next, she to that she has a 1903 blouse with skirt to commemorate the fact that in 1903, Saint Patrick’s Day became an official holiday in Ireland. The blouse should be worn over the skirt to get the pigeon breasted look which was so popular in the early 20th century. Margot’s hair is covered in a hat and she has a matching parasol.

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So, in 1962, the city of Chicago, known for it’s Irish population, dyed the Chicago River green for the first time using 100 lbs of vegetable dye. They continue that tradition today, though its only green for a few hours. I’ve never seen the river dyed, even when I was living in Illinois, but I’ve always wanted too. Margot has a 1960’s dress with high heels and a stylish flipped hair style.

Lastly, I included a modern pair of jeans and a t-shirt, in case you want a modern celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. I did not, despite a recommendation of a friend, include any green dyed beer. You’ll have to draw your own. 🙂

Striped Paper Doll Clothes

Clearly, I thought that the Dictionary Girl’s needed to get a little more rough and tumble…. so here they are… rough and tumbling (Is it just me or does that sound like a sexual innuendo?).

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I feel as though I need to say this, since I seem to get a lot of comments or questions that start with an apology- Please ask me question. Please make requests. Please feel free to inquire if I’ve ever done a style or a kind of paper doll. I will respond. I might take a few weeks days but I do try to get back to people.

Not promising that I’ll do a certain style of paper doll, but I try to reply as much as I can to comments and am grateful for everyone I receive.

I just thought I should state that somewhere.

On a fairly unrelated note, it is Speak Like a Pirate Day, so I went in search of a few pirate paper dolls. The pickings were not impressive. Final Fantasy Paper Dolls Made by Animama depict several of the Final Fantasy characters (none of whom I confess I know), but have some stylish pirate wear and fair number of other tongue in cheek outfits.

Lady Pirate Paper Doll depicts a beautiful black and white winged lady pirate. There are other printable paper dolls as well.

Roccoco Fantasy- Printable Princess Paper Dolls

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Just for Boots, I didn’t make anything pink in this set. 🙂

Originally, there was pink in it, but I do use a lot of pink… which is odd, because I don’t like pink that much in the real world… So, I decided to be anti-pink for a while. Plus I think these dresses are fro-froo enough without adding pink into the mix.

Not that I have anything against pink, mind you… just a thought, really.

And now for a question:

Julie asked: What advice would you give an aspiring paper doll artist? Are there Fashion Illustration books you recommend? How about Figure Drawing books?

To aspiring paper doll artists (and I’m not sure I’m not that far from ‘aspiring’ myself), I’d say the following:

    Draw a lot
    Look at paper dolls you like and try to figure out what you like about them
    Don’t be afraid to copy a style you like- imitation is the sincerest form of flattery
    Reference images are your friend
    Draw what you like and what you love, not what you think is popular or other people will like
    Have fun and stretch yourself… even though that’s scary a lot of the time

As for books, I would recommend… I think that’s worthy of it’s own blog post. So, I will work on putting together a list. If i had to name one, it would be Drawing the Head and Figure by Jack Hamm. It’s old, but it’s solid and I still use my copy when I need to draw a face in profile. (You might notice, I don’t do that much… cause I suck at it, but I use Hamm whenever I think I want to try again.)

Here’s a question for my readers, would you be interested in knowing what books I use and/or recommend about historical costume or figure drawing?