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Monday, March 15, 2010

Playing with Paper Dolls

When I was little I loved my paper dolls. My older sister hated them. It was unfortunate, for her, that we shared a bedroom. You see, I had dozens of them. I would use the folder they came in to make their houses and build a little town between our two beds. I would dress them, move them around and just have fun. It was even more fun when I was tipped off and knew she was going to have friends over so I could get everything set up. It made playing with my paper dolls extra enjoyable when I knew I could torment her too. (By the way, I’ve grown out of that phase and my sister is now my best friend). However, when I was eight and she was fourteen, such was not the case.

While I no longer live to irritate my sister, paper dolls are still a part of my life. The first time I saw the Fashions of the Regency Period Paper Dolls by Tom Tierney I knew I had to have them. Inside you will find George dressed “in spotlessly clean muslin linen (shirt) with a frill at the neckline called a chitterling, over knit footed drawers. His corset is edged with tabs called piccalillis.” Jane is wearing “back-laced silk corselet or zona over her soft batiste chemise. Her silk stockings are worn with laced slippers.” That is the description for the first plate. For each page (plate) for both George and Jane is a description of clothing and where they would wear such an outfit.

These paper dolls, nor their clothing, have been cut out of the book, unlike those when I was eight and they are one of my favorite sources when trying to decide what my hero or heroine should be wearing on a picnic, drive in the part, ball or wherever they decide to go.

No matter what period you write in there is a set of paper dolls for you. Here are just a few examples.

Oh, I got these for my sister, the French teacher. And here she thought I had finally outgrown paper dolls.

Hmmmm, I wonder what I should dress George and Jane in today?

There are several sources out there when trying to decide how to dress your characters. What is your favorite reference for the period and location in which you write?


  1. Amy, This is a great resource and I can't think of anything that compares. I use paintings from the era or photos for my Civil War story.

  2. Cool post, Amy! Hmmm. I have only dipped into America 1940s in New Orleans and used a lovely book called New Orleans in the 1940s.

    Thanks for another resource in case I step way back!

  3. I had no idea that there were Regency clothing paper dolls! Amy, thanks for sharing this. I'll have to look into these and see if I can find some.

    My older sister and I played with paper dolls when we were little, too. But ours were always much more modern. I think we might never have stopped if we had dolls with gowns as elegant as these. Well, I suppose I should speak for myself and not my sister. LOL.

  4. Ooh, these are so fun! I want two sets. One for a resource and one to play dolls with my daughter.

  5. Gail,

    I am sure they have Civil War paperdolls. If I remember correctly, they may have Scarlett and Rhett dolls and who couldn't use a green dress made out of curtains in their collection.

    I am sure he has 1940's as well.

    I found these on Amazon. They have every era and are fun to look at. There are so many that I want to get myself.

  6. Michelle,

    Your daughter is the perfect age and think how much she could learn (without realizing it) while playing.

  7. I have a definite love/hate for paper dolls. I would love to play with them and pretend, but cutting them out was so frustrating because I wanted them to be perfect. :O)

  8. I used to love those dolls, but I'm not sure I have a favorite era.

  9. I don't think that I ever had paper dolls, but I love the idea of a Regency dress up set :)
    As for me and my sister, I was a little more evil - 5 years her junior, I used to chew on her Barbie's hands to give them flippers...I guess I was a marine science major for a reason!

  10. Amy -

    I feel I have to stick up for older sisters everywhere here! Grr. Little sisters.

    In all seriousness, I have this same set of paper dolls and I love them. They are SO pretty. :)

  11. I loved paper dolls too! I would design outfit after outfit, cut them out and model them down my imaginary runway. My Grandma showed me how to make them. Such happy memories!

    I love this idea. I'm very visual and seeing the clothes, hair and shoes in this way would be inspiring!

    Thanks for posting!

  12. Sorry I'm so late chiming in, but I LOVE those paper dolls! I really should invest in them for myself! I had paper dolls as a girl, too, but I hated that I couldn't style their hair. LOL! That put me firmly in the Barbie camp :)

    Great post! Thanks for sharing the story about your sis - hilarious!

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