paper dolls, victorian, printable paper dolls, free teabag covers, godey's ladys book, dressmaker
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VICTORIANA - Enjoy articles relating to the Victorian Era. A regular column in each issue of The Tea House Times. Written by Patrice LePera - Authority, Victorian Era, Historical Writing -

April 2010 Posts


Blog Entry

M/A 10 - Paper Dolls

posted by TeaHouseTimes Admin, ADMINSaturday, April 17th 2010 @ 3:12 PM

From the Mar/Apr10 issue of The Tea House Times.  To view the most recent issue, please register / log-in at for free access.


The paper-doll came into vogue as a dressmaker’s sample (French fashion doll) when each of many dresses had to be designed and sewn as an original.  In order to show you the charming layers of clothing that had been designed for you, the dressmaker would cut out and hand-paint each layer from undergarments to coat, so that you could see just how the lace peeked out behind the bodice, and the little jacket fit over the dress, and the matching coat just allowed a touch of the dress to show!  The set of clothing would then be commissioned as an original, just for you.  Many of the paper dolls featured ten layers from pantaloons to coat!  And since one had to change clothing for different parts of the day, there were a great many dresses to be designed, in order to dress appropriately as a Victorian Lady, with walking-dresses, morning dress, tea-dress, dress for dinner, and elaborately constructed carriage-dresses (which allowed very little movement at all, and featured a long train).

These paper-thin personalities were collected avidly.  Godey’s Lady’s Book printed charmingly designed dresses, in Fashion Paper Dolls from Godey’s Lady’s Book, 1840-1854.  There was a printed series of moral stories of “Little Nell” with paper-doll outfits for each scene in the book. 

Paper-dolls featuring celebrities and nobility followed, such as the 1895 Marriage of Consuelo Vanderbilt to Charles Spencer-Churchill and the 1919 paper-doll of Actress Norma Talmadge.  Eventually books of paper-dolls became available (very rare to find one intact) from publishing companies.

These fragile cherished hand-painted treasures are becoming increasingly rare, as the original paper ages, prices ranging to $500 for a single title.  Some lovely reproductions are available from publishers, that would grace any tea table.

Special thanks to Patrice for her beautiful, original design paper doll featuring The Tea House Times - See cover of the MarApr10 issue and pages 7 and 15 of that issue. Printable from too! Log in or visit the shopping area.


©2010 by Patrice LePera

~ Authority, Victorian Era, Historical Writing ~

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