Reverse Paper Doll

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By Recycled Crafts Contributor, Anitra from the blog “Coffee Pot People”.

Paper dolls are a perennial favorite. I remember happy hours spent playing with them as a child, back when McCall’s Magazine printed a Betsy McCall doll and an outfit or two in every issue. They were fun, but cutting them out was sometimes a trial–I was hard pressed to remember the tabs that held the clothes on were part of the garment, and time after time snipped them right off. Bother!

Here’s a paper doll with no tabs at all, pocket-sized, and with an infinitely expandable wardrobe, because it works in reverse!

You’ll need:

• Sturdy cardstock to back your doll
• A variety of small print papers for clothes
• A transparent plastic sleeve to fit your completed doll
• An image of a doll subject

As you can see, I used a picture cut from an old magazine, chosen because it was a doll and the size I wanted–the size of a playing card, 2.5″ X 3.5″. You might decide to use a fashion picture of a child or adult, either modern or vintage. (Another option is to use a photo of a child you know, for a personalized, and very special doll.) One of the things I love about my little doll is the ruffle of petticoat below the hem, which gives her new dresses a little extra detail.

Cut your doll person out. If the background around it is clean, you can just cut a rectangle of the desired size. If not, cut the doll itself out, and glue it down to a new background. It the background you choose is heavy paper or cardstock, all the better.

Now what you’re going to do is very carefully cut the clothing away from the doll, leaving an open “window” where it used to be. If you’re good with an X-acto knife, use that. If you’re like me, and aren’t, look for a line where you can cut into the figure without it’s showing. (I cut along the underside of my doll’s left arm.) If you’ve cut through the edge of your picture, turn it over now, and tape the cut edges together.

You now have a paper doll that has arms, legs, a head, but no body or clothing, and you’re ready to design her/his wardrobe.

Take your doll and lay her atop the various papers you’ve chosen, looking for pleasing placement of details. Be experimental! Scrapbooking papers work well. A map and sheet music also made into darling little dresses for mine. Try the Sunday funnies, foreign language books, even paper money, which would turn it into a darling and original money gift holder.

This is where it gets really easy: you aren’t going to cut out the clothing, per se. You’re going to cut your dress into a square or rectangle the exact same size and shape as your entire picture. If you like, you can make the garment piece a bit taller than the dol piece, so that you have a “handle” to grip.

Mark the corners for placement, and either turn the doll over and draw around the edges, or use a same-size card as a template.

To play with the doll, slip it into it’s plasic sleeve, and slip the printed rectangles in behind.

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This entry was posted in Kid's Crafts, Paper Crafts and tagged on by .

About Anitra

Anitra Cameron had the good fortune to be born into a family where creativity ran rampant. Her father has authored several books and worked as a photographer and her mother hand-painted portraits. Anitra’s favorite crafts to make are: Jewelry (especially using buttons), collaged book marks, miniature cake stands, all from recycled materials. Anitra’s moto: “Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do, or do without.” Live with that long enough and you’ll never want to throw anything away, so best to turn it into art! Anitra lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, where their combined family’s total seven children, and (so far) seventeen grandchildren. Recently Anitra became a great-grandmother of a darling little boy! You can find more of Anitra’s work at “Coffee Pot People”.

4 thoughts on “Reverse Paper Doll

  1. Cat

    Clever idea. I remember playing with those McCall dolls, too. I would have loved this. Simple enough for a young girl to create the wardrobe, after the “window” was cut for her. Maybe expand on the idea with some Velcroed accessories. Or real cloth glued on card stock rather than just paper. Maybe put a little ribbon at the top as a handle to pull them out with. Love open-ended projects like this.

  2. Anitra Cameron

    I love the ribbon handle idea! Your velco idea makes me think of plastic window clings, and wonder if you couldn’t cut accessories from them and just stick them on the sleeve. Hmmm…

  3. Barbara

    What kind of plastic sleeves and where does one find them? I have grandaughters and would love to do these for them!

  4. Lisa

    I love the idea of making a doll in my grand daughters image. Not sure if it needs to be a picture of her posing with her arms out. Can post what kind of pictures work? Thank you

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