My Material Life

The Paper Doll Post, Part 2


If you like paper dolls and/or fashion, I think you’re going to like the links I have to share with you in this post.  Let’s start with a few favorites from my collection …

Top row from left:

Andrea from Tom Tierney’s Brides from Around the World collection wearing the traditional Danish bridal costume. Die-cut dolls (the set also comes with a doll named Claire; each doll has six costumes), published by B. Shackman & Co., Inc., 1995.

Another B. Shackman & Co., Inc. die-cut doll, Sabrina – The Prima Ballerina, designed by Irene Peters Stehly, 1995.

From Grace Kelly Paper Dolls in Full Color by Tom Tierney, published by Dover, 1986. This was one of my favorite outfits (designed by Edith Head) that Grace Kelly wore in the Hitchcock movie, Rear Window. Please tell me you’ve seen Rear Window. Her clothes in this movie are to die for. The dress she wears in her first scene when she’s turning on the lamps? Don’t even talk to me about it! This particular jacket has this really cute funnel-type, stand-up collar that looks so good with the halter top. I think that’s also the scene in the movie (quite racy for its time) when she brings along the most exquisite black Mark Cross overnight case (see it here) you’ve ever seen to hold her negligee.

This is Comtesse from the V&A Paper Dolls to Cut Out and Colour In set that I purchased when I was there for all of about twenty minutes in 2009. The set includes four dolls and nine couture outfits from the V&A collection. Comtesse is wearing a 1950’s Jean Dessès dress that looks very modern. See the original here. Paper dolls make wonderful souvenirs if you can find them. If you are feeling flush, be sure to purchase two sets – one to play with and one to keep in pristine condition. I don’t see this collection currently in the V&A’s online shop, although they do have Kate Moss and David Bowie collections for sale.

Bottom row from left:

Vintage Holly Hobbie from my childhood. The site, DollKind, has interesting information on the history of dolls. It answered my questions about Holly Hobbie and more – like why prairie dresses were so popular in the seventies.

Eleanore and her cat Atticus from The Black Apple’s Paper Doll Primer. I picked up this wonderful book when I attended the most amazing paper clothing exhibit at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco a couple of years ago. You can cut dolls right from the book or do what I do when I don’t have an extra set of dolls and I want to leave the original in its uncut condition (like Grace Kelly above). I copy the doll on cardstock and the clothes on glossy text paper. Then I use a pair of small, sharp scissors to cut them out. I only use a craft knife for particularly tight areas.

This is Fairy Tale Flora in her Cinderella outfit from the March 2009 issue of Contemporary Doll Collector. Doll collector magazines come and go, but they can be a good source for original paper dolls. Another magazine I like that went away, but came back recently is Haute Doll. They often have cool paper dolls too, but a terribly confusing website I’m afraid.

Finally, we have Rose from Issue 14 of Cloth magazine, a UK publication. She came with four different outfits of separates (even shoes!) that are really fun to mix and match.

Whew!  But there’s more.  Feast your eyes on these …

These are so fun, aren’t they?  This is a Lorraine Parish Marita doll set from 1990.  I must have read about it in a magazine; I remember being so excited to send off a check for the dolls.  These are Lorraine Parish designs – each doll even includes a swatch of fabric that the garment is made with.  I tell you, it was a happy day when these arrived in the mail.  Lorraine Parish must be one cool lady.  She’s still at it, but it looks like she has a different muse these days (see her here).  I always loved this model, Marita, because she reminds me of a modern Greer Garson.  Now please tell me you know who Greer Garson is and if not be sure to search her up.

Oh my goodness.  Who would have imagined this would go on so long?  We’re almost done … don’t leave yet because I haven’t given you the links to some very cool dolls I found while researching this post.  You can even print them out and play with them if you like.

Nostalgic:  Click here for Marlo Thomas as That Girl

Artsy:  Click here for Sonia Delaunay

Stylin’:  Click here for Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer 2013 PDF

Well that’s about all I have to tell you about paper dolls for now.  I did try searching for dolls for various racial groups, and it seems that there is still very little ethnic and/or racial diversity in the mainstream market for fashion paper dolls.  I did find this short article about a mom who created her own black paper dolls for her daughters when she couldn’t find any to buy.  That was back in 1979; I’m afraid things haven’t improved that much.  This would be a great opportunity for modern paper doll designers.

Are you still reading?  What are you waiting for?  Go get out your paper dolls!

p.s. Almost forgot to give you this link – awesome source for vintage and republished vintage paper dolls from some ladies with a long history in the paper doll art world.


  1. I don’t know who you are, but we are certainly kindred spirits! I was googling myself which is always a good thing to do now and then when you run a business and I found your web site. I’m Lorraine Parish and I am so impressed with myself !!! LOL I too loved that little Marita Doll catalog! I’m glad you found my new doll Agatha, I’m also having fun with her.. I’m developing a new doll/web site called Nurse Daisy, so stay tuned!
    Lorraine Parish

    • Oh my goodness – thank you for writing! That’s so funny. I can still remember when I wrote my check and sent away for it … and then when it came in the mail, oh happy day! I’m never giving it up now! Can’t wait to meet Nurse Daisy 🙂

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