Things I Miss: Paper Dolls

Does anyone else remember paper dolls? I remember buying paper doll books when I was younger. The dolls were literally just sheets of card, sometimes with a foldable tab at the bottom for it to stand on the table, and without any of the paper clothes, was just a girl in underwear. I remember most paper dolls being nice designs, watercolour-paint style, rather than being exceptionally cartoony. They were well illustrated.

Paper doll drawing/diagram

Clothes for the doll were just paper or card with tabs that stuck out on the sides. The clothes were illustrated so that they would fit perfectly on the paper doll if you were to cut them out and place them on top. Over time I think that the clothes became perforated in the paper doll books, so you could easily tear them out, rather than having to use scissors to cut them out. The tabs were to be folded behind the paper doll when you placed the clothes on top of her, and they were not supposed to easily come off.

Some paper dolls were made black and white, so that you could colour in the clothes however you wanted. I think headwear was also fairly limited, because the head was usually a bit dainty and it was hard to fold things on or over.

I once got tired of the clothes blowing off because the tabs were not strong enough once you folded them behind the doll. You could have bought some blu-tack to stick the clothes on the doll more permanently, but still temporarily.

I was such a huge fan of stationery and being creative, and I had loved doll houses when I was younger, so the era of the paper doll is one that I remember quite fondly.

More paper doll illustrations

What I discovered while burying myself in a piece of my childhood was fashion illustrator Danielle Meder, who also creates elaborate paper dolls inspired by the latest fashion trends. I have included some of her work in this post because I think it’s very lovely coming from her point of view. I can see how it would come in handy in the fashion industry. On her blog, she says “The finished dolls were printed on magnetic sheets and laser cut with incredible accuracy. The results were the most beautiful physical renditions of my paper dolls I’ve ever touched.”

I didn’t even think of translating the notion of paper dolls to magnets, though I am pretty sure they have existed for some time and I had just forgotten about them. I am sure they would be, or are already, popular with younger girls who are not ready to work with paper yet – playing with magnets on the kitchen fridge. Bring paper dolls back to life! :)

Comments on this post

I never had paper dolls, but I used to cut clothes and people out of magazines and do that. The dolls sounded like they would have been a lot of fun. :D

Magnets sound like a really cool idea!

!!!!!!!! Oh my gosh, I remembered those days when paper dolls were a thing!! I used to have the Sailor Moon collection as a kid and would always dress them up and keep the outfits in a box. I wondered what ever happened to them??? I know I had to always cut them out (probably before perforated cutouts came into the market or it was too expensive) and if I accidentally cut the tab, I was screwed :(. Or maybe my 5 year old self didn’t have enough accuracy or innovation to make fake tabs.. I wonder if these paper dolls are still in the market. I’m sure I will let my daughter play with paper dolls even if I have to make them myself in the future XD.

I used to play with these dolls quite frequently as a kid. I was more on the tom-boyish side, but my grandmother and mother wanted me to have girly things, so I chose to get these instead. I think ours came in a book and you had to peel and peel. I can’t believe you thought of these. Brings back good childhood memories.

OHHH MAN. This takes me back! I played with a few dolls that my sister (ten years my senior) played with. They were pretty mangled and the male doll I had had a head that would bend off. It was almost ripped. They were so fun! I think they’re a lot easier to play with than dolls with clothes, since you just place the clothes on top instead of having to wriggle them into and out of fabric.
I also remember a set of static-like plastic ones I used, but I didn’t enjoy them as much. The paper dolls I had were about 14 inches tall and the plastic-y ones were maybe half that, maximum.

Oh man! I actually used to have paperdolls. My mom bought me one from a garage sale at this rich neighborhood community wide garage/yard sale. It was actually a part of Disney and it features Belle, Ariel, Cinderalla, and Mulan. /love

But the paperdolls you have featured above are actually more stylish and obviously a bit more towards teens to adults. I actually like the idea of them being magnets!