Geneviéve: Feminist Hero

This month’s theme of “hero” was surprisingly challenging for me!  Trying to come up with something that was honest to my own values and not too frivolous was harder than I expected. I almost went with a firefighter theme, but the truth is there aren’t many female firefighters. Most women don’t have the upper body strength to do the job. And that’s okay. I didn’t want my Geneviéve to look like some Barbie fake firefighter because that doesn’t work for me at all.

Given current discussions in the media, I’ve been thinking a lot about my relationship with “feminism”. Yes, I deliberately put quotes here because too often I feel like it’s been co-opted by people with whom I disagree. But in its purest spirit, I’m a feminist. And even if it still sometimes feel like there’s so much work to do, I’m very appreciative to all the women who paved the way. So this offering is a tribute to them. Women who would not be told how to dress or live their lives encumbered by societal expectations.

Bloomers had been around since the 1860s, but the bicycle craze of the end of the century normalized them. I still wear skirts most of the time to work, but hats off to you ladies that I slip into my jeans whenever I feel like it.

Find more theme outfits to match this doll at the following fabulous blogs:

[Click on this link or the picture to download a printable .pdf]

Geneviéve: 1880s

This month’s theme is about our favorite era. Mine was always going to be the 19th century and the 1880s is my favorite decade of that century. This was an easy pick for me!

I have always loved the hourglass silhouette of this era: the long sleeves, the high collars, and the embroidery, patterned fabrics, and other detailing on clothes of this period. I am less fond of the bustles. These varied widely through the 80s from enormous to almost non-existent heading into the 90s. Also love all the accessories of this era: the buttons, jewelry, gloves, shoes (oh my God, the shoes!), and other frippery.

For Geneviéve I kept things relatively simple. I imagined the bodice here might be a solid dark velvet perhaps, but I left it blank for you to decorate as you like. The two pieces will layer for an afternoon and evening look (which was common then).

Find more theme outfits to match this doll at the following fabulous blogs:

[Click on this link or the picture to download a printable .pdf]


Geneviéve: As Eponine

This month’s theme is literary! Picking my favorite book character was easy. It was always going to be either Eponine from Les Miserables, or Haydee from the Count of Monte Cristo. Haydee would have been more exotic, but Eponine won out. It was easier to draw gutter 19th century French clothes than try to do justice in short order to 19th century Turkish royalty. I would have had to Google it to death.

I hope you enjoy these outfits. You have Eponine’s day wear with a long belted wrap, and her outfit for sneaking through the barricade. She disguises herself as a boy to get a message to Cosette (who didn’t deserve it). And her actions have tragic consequences.

Find more theme outfits to match this doll at the following fabulous blogs:

This collaborative doll is posted at the end of each month throughout 2017. There’s a new theme each month!  To find all related posts on this blog, just click the “Geneviéve” tag.

[Click on this link or the picture to download a printable .pdf plate!]


Paper Doll Subjects: Randomness Reigns

Some years ago, I made a paper doll of Frank Merriwell, a character from a late 19th century nickel weekly called Tip Top Weekly. It was a lark: I liked the idea more than I liked the character. Frank himself was insufferably righteous and his stories were invariably pretty standard fare. Though he was incredibly popular at the time and survived into the radio days, I was pretty much done with him after reading half a dozen adventures. The appeal for the paper doll was mostly that he was playing some new sport every week, so always had a new uniform which was kind of fun.

Frank notwithstanding, I have had a long love affair with nickel weeklies. These trashy things predate comic books and though they were a moral bore now and then, some were quite gruesome. There was no “code” so often you had characters meeting all sorts of murderers and opium addicts. Painted ladies were mostly out, though–that remained a taboo.

Last year, while I was taking some time out in the Pacific Northwest, I dug up my copies of Young Klondike. For sheer appeal, this was one of the more interesting of the weeklies for me. It didn’t have the steampunk travel-around-the-world fantasy of Frank Reade’s Library or the crime-solving hard boiled noir of Nick Carter, but it had something far more attractive: snow! For me, an adventure in Alaska was way more exotic and exciting than gumshoes and robots.

Young Klondike ran for 39 issues, 27 of which are available online. I haven’t read them all because they’re obviously a finite resource. So I like to savor them–as much as one can savor what amounts to pulp trash. Objectively they aren’t great, but I started thinking about re-purposing the text. If Young Klondike were written today, what might it look like? Last summer I took the text and began appropriating it into something new. I kept the basic plot and left its quirkiest character untouched for the most part. But I re-imagined the other three central characters for a modern audience. Three hundred pages later, I might have something that could be a book, but that’s not the point. I’m telling you this because I idly started sketching paper dolls for the characters and I thought to myself: this is so completely random.

But then, really, all my paper dolls always are.

I don’t know what the appeal is for half the stuff I make. But I make things for my own amusement and if they amuse others, three cheers! I just know there are lots of paper dolls for fashion models or popular personalities/characters. I enjoy those as much as anybody (and I make them too!). But I’m also probably that one person who, if I saw a paper doll book of Klondike explorers from 1898, would go completely nuts for it.

So, like it or not, you’re probably getting 19th century Klondiker paper dolls in the coming months. It’s just the way this blog rolls. To be fair, I warned you from the start about my esoteric tastes ~ ha!

Judy : Vol. 31, 1882 Plate 8

Here it is! The final Volume 31 Judy Tuesday plate. It’s definitely a doozy, too!  Took me forever given all the details, but was so worth it. I especially love the insane plumes on that hat and the sunflower designs on the sleeves. It was fun to do all those textures!

I haven’t made any progress whatsoever on the next volume. So I guess you can expect a little break on the Judy front for a while.  I’ve actually been too busy to do much of anything exciting paper-doll-wise for the last couple of weeks, which is kind of a bummer.

I have buffer for Catwalk Couture, but it’s all black and white, which I am tempted to just go with. I really am so bad at color most of the time. And I’m even worse about it when I’ve already finished something in black and white and later face the prospect of having to go back and color it. Which makes no sense–I do like coloring (maybe when it’s someone else’s work-ha!).

Maybe if I leave the black and white plates alone long enough, I’ll be able to come back to color them as if they aren’t my own.

[click this link or the image to download a printable .pdf of these costumes]

Judy : Vol. 31, 1882 Plate 7

Today’s Judy Tuesday theme is…skinny skirts that can fit facing one another on the page with room to spare?  Also, big ridiculous hats.

This is officially the most number of plates I have made for a Judy volume. Usually I only make 6 at most. This set will have eight. And there were still two plates worth of costumes that I just decided not to render. We’ll see how future volumes yield.

One final Judy post next week and then there might be a break in Judy for a spell since I haven’t even started on Volume 32. Peeking ahead it looks like the costumes in the next volume are a little less fanciful overall–but lovely all the same.

Don’t know if that means I’ll drag my heels with the drawing–or maybe I will get really ambitious and plow right on through to the next one in a mad rush.

It’s always a roulette spin here for me. Either way, you know I’ll always come back to Judy eventually.

[click this link or the image to download a printable .pdf of these costumes]

Judy : Vol. 31, 1882 Plate 6

Clockwise we’re going backwards this Judy Tuesday, but the designs seem apropos for an unseasonably warm February. Since it feels like spring outside, here are some spring-themed outfits to enjoy!

I’m not sure I did Chasemore’s Butterfly costume justice. But I do like the way the headpiece came out with the little butterfly earring. The headpiece with the grapes also had a leaf earring, but for some reason I didn’t draw it.

I work on Judy when I’m too tired to do anything else. That means I can sometimes be sloppy about it. In this case I was overall kind of lazy about the September costume grape dress–I’m frankly amazed I managed to finish it! There were four additional outfits I originally selected from this volume that I ultimately weeded out. They had their charms, but somehow seemed more effort than they were worth to actually render. I always try to pick only the best for my readers!

So there are two more plates for this volume of Judy and I promise we’re going to end with a great big bang!

[click this link or the image to download a printable .pdf of these costumes]


Judy : Vol. 31, 1882 Plate 5

I know it’s still winter, but we’re ready for the beach this Judy Tuesday!

I think my favorite thing on these two designs is the crustacean on top of the shell hat.

These were particularly fun to draw! Definitely representative of Chasemore’s more fanciful designs. He’s done a lot of beach themes in the past, but most of those were actual beach wear. These are fun because the dresses echo the beach itself.

The holidays always seem to sneak up on me. Then I think: aw gee, I should have done something for Valentine’s Day. One of these days I’ll work out a calendar. Or not. Maybe the Judys are meeting their sweethearts on the beach. How about that?

I have three more plates for Volume 31 of Judy (a couple of costumes which are quite outrageous). Then I might take a brief hiatus since I haven’t done any of the preparatory work for the next volume. Maybe that will have changed three weeks from now.

[click this link or the image to download a printable .pdf of these costumes]

Judy : Vol. 31, 1882 Plate 4

Judy Tuesday brings you a variety of greenery as a little pre-welcome for the spring! These two costumes appeared far apart from one another in the original journal (July and October). But through the magic of themes (that occasionally make sense), we get to see them side-by-side.

Chasemore recycled a lot of ideas throughout his time producing costumes for Judy, but they typically had enough variation in them to make them each unique. Here he uses fern-like plants to decorate and to form features on two dresses of very different styles.

The bustle dress is pretty traditional for the time, but Chasemore seemed to enjoy a straight shift-like silhouette. A lot of his work features this style–which won’t become fashionable for another twenty years!

I didn’t realize how crooked I plated this set until just now looking at the thumbnail. Sometimes things will drive me crazy enough that I have to go back and fix them. Other times I just shrug and carry on. In this case, I think I’m shrugging.

[click this link or the image to download a printable .pdf of these costumes]


Judy : Vol. 31, 1882 Plate 3

Another somewhat modest bustle on this Judy Tuesday. I’ll get used to the new size of the dolls hopefully in the next round. Once again, I’m not entirely sure why I thought a Cattleshow costume went with something called the St. Roseline. Although, that weird headcovering on the St. Roseline reminds me of French milkmaids for some reason.

The St. Roseline likely refers to the saint herself, but also the Chateau where she lies in France, where there is a vineyard. As wine and beef go together, I’m just going to pretend that was my justification since it might make more sense than the milkmaid excuse.

These are December costumes, so I’m glad I got them out before we got too far into the new year. At least they are sort of right for the season.

I really need to get some work done on this volume of Judy!  In my distraction to revamp the catwalk dolls, I’ve sadly neglected poor Judy and have now run out of buffer.  I guess I know what I’ll be doing this weekend!

[Click this link or the image to download a printable .pdf of these costumes]