A little help from some paper dolls…

Sometimes I just get designer’s block…if you’re a seamstress, you know what I’m talking about. You don’t know who to sew for next, let alone what to make. There are so many fabrics to pick from, so many trims, and buttons and laces, and patterns to choose…it can be overwhelming at times. Every once in a while I just need a little inspiration, and I found it in some tiny little Dover Paper Doll books. They are a little bigger than a post card and there are about 6 to 10 drawings in each booklet. I use them from time to time just to help me think outside the box…I mean, to help keep me from making my dirndl’s the same way every time. The drawings are very simple and I think that helps. If you look on Pinterest or the internet, the dirndl’s can be so detailed you can’t see where the features are. It’s almost easier to see the design features when the drawing has simple, easy to see elements. I snatch parts of one drawing and add it to another one, using a vest from one and a headpiece from another. I can’t vouch that my dirndl’s are absolutely 100% accurate, but I’ve never had anyone complain yet. Here are a few pictures from the book and a few of my outfits where I used elements from these little books. I found my books at a quilt show but I’m sure you can find them online too.





This is one I was inspired by from the picture above…









Here are a few more that I found in the archives. You can see how I chose a collar from this one, a sleeve from that one, a vest from here, a cap from there…etc. You’ll also notice I like BRIGHT colors for my dirndl’s. Why use DRAB when there are so many beautiful colors?











See what you can be inspired from by looking at a little paper doll booklet?

See you tomorrow,
Blessings, Jeanne

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  1. Linda Doyle says:

    Oh Jeanne, what adorable outfits for Kirsten!! I also have one of those paper doll books, but for a little Irish girl! Wish I could find some more. Are you by any chance Scandinavian? You seem to sew those kinds of outfits so well! I love looking at the tiny details you have so lovingly sewn together, just candy for the eyes!

    As far as pape rdolls go, I grew up playing with them just about every day! I had all kinds, movie stars, ballerinas, little girls, famous cartoon characters, bride and groom, etc. They provided hours of play for me and my friends! One crazy thing I remember doing, my friend and I decided to have a wedding for our paper dolls. We set up a “church” outside and put everyone in their Sunday best outfits, got ready to march the bride down the aisle, then our mothers called us in for lunch, so we just left them there. When we came out, the wind had blown them everywhere—what a disaster! We were finding clothes in the bushes days after!!

    • HI Linda,
      Thank you for liking Kirsten’s dirndl’s. They are always fun to make and it’s nice to use up all those little scraps that aren’t big enough to do anything else with.
      No, I’m not Scandinavian…just plain ole American. I love making mixy-matchy things.

      I used to love paper dolls to, and had several kinds, but we liked to cut things out of the catalogs and use them. They were pretty fragile though. How terrible that the wind blew yours all away. That’s a funny story though… even though it was horrible at the time.
      It made me laugh.
      Have a wonderful weekend, Blessings, Jeanne

  2. Jane Miller says:

    I’m afraid my Kirsten is going to run away from home and go live at your house after she sees those outfits!

    All of them are wonderful…I am drooling!

    • Awwww Jane,
      What a sweet thing to say…I’m so glad you liked Kirsten’s dresses. I LOVE sewing for Kirsten. Thanks so much for your sweet comments.
      Blessings, Jeanne

  3. Simply wonderful outfits, Jeanne, and I see rick rack on one! I have a collection of paper dolls, I must get them out and look at them!

    • Hi Jevne,
      Yes, do get your paper dolls out. There are lots of ideas you can copy from them. Thanks for your compliments.
      Blessings, Jeanne

  4. I loved my parapet dolls too. Boyth my parents were Norwegian and the only movies we we’re allowed to see were Sonja Heine films. It was fun to cut out theruffles on her costumes. My. Paper doll collection was thrown away when I was in college. I had GWTW and movie stars. I made up stories when I cut. I decided no to try to rep lace the collection when I saw the books a at doll shows. My greatest fun was cutting and Iknew I wouldn’t be sitting on the floor cutting paper dolls an recreating my childhood experience. When my mother would go grocery shopping, ,if I willingly agreed to stay alone, myrewardwas a new paper doll. This happened in sub zero temps and it was a lot of work to suit up a child for the weather.

    • Jeanne W says:

      HI Jan,
      Oh, it’s too bad about your paper doll being thrown away…and what a brave little girl you were to stay by yourself in order to get paper dolls. What memories you must have of cutting them out and playing with them. Thanks for sharing your past with us.
      Blessings, Jeanne

  5. Diana Jenness says:

    Hi Jeannie,
    My sister and I used to spend many hours playing with paper dolls. Our favorites were Roy Rodgers and Dale Evans. We also liked movie stars and wedding paper dolls. I don’t know what happened to them–they just kind of disappeared along with dolls and some toys. We moved around when we were young. My father moved to pastor several churches .
    I have often–as an adult, wished I could take classes in clothing design. I don’t know if they even taught it at the college I attended. I started trying to design dresses by tracing pictures in the newspaper. I would trace around the model, trying to follow her body lines, and then design her a dress. It was usually a sailor dress–I loved sailor dresses.
    By the way, I really admire your work, Jeannie. It inspires me to sew.

    • HI Diana,
      It seems that paper dolls were a thing of the past for young girls our ages… I bet little girls nowadays don’t even know what paper dolls are. It’s kind of sad, because they could be so much fun to play with.
      Tracing around an existing figure is a great way to learn to design something. There’s a great book for young girls called “Designer Doodles” … or anyone for that matter, who want to learn how to design things. It’s just a simple book but fun. I gave it to a young girl one time and she had the best time “designing” her things.
      Thank you Diana, I appreciate you reading each day.
      Blessings, Jeanne

      • I love your blog so much, it is the first thing I look for when I get up in the morning! If for some reason it doesn’t appear in my email. I have to look for it. That happened today, aaaalso.
        Have a good day.

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