1930s Blue Flower Patterned Dress with Lace Scarf and Cherry Brooch

A 1930s-style blue dress with a small pattern of white flowers and green leaves. The neckline is decorated with a white lace scarf pinned with a plastic brooch in the shape of a yellow bow over a pair of red cherries. The scarf falls in a lace-edged ruffle down the front of the dress. The sleeves are slightly puffed, and there are rows of pintucks down the front of the bodice to each side of the ruffle. It's belted at the waist with the same kind of fabric. The skirt is just past knee length and is slightly flared at the base.
I’m breaking my paper doll slump with this 1930s-style dress! If you don’t follow me on Pinterest, you probably should, or at least you should select a couple of my boards to follow because I actually have nearly 200 boards. (I suggest Jewelry, Gorgeous Dresses and, of course, Liana’s Paper Dolls.) You may be asking, what does one person need with nearly 200 boards? The answer is, I have one board for fashion plates, illustrations and actual examples of clothes from almost every year between 1788 and 1965. Even if you aren’t foolhardy enough to hit that “Follow All” button, it’s fun to go to my profile and just scroll down, watching the fashions change. Whenever I want to draw a historical outfit, I’m always scrambling through Google Image Search, museum sites and so on for examples of outfits from that time, so having these boards is a great resource for me! I particularly like 1930s clothes, so I did a 1930s dress today. It’s mostly based on late 1930s styles (I think mostly 1937), but the pattern and decorations are my own invention.

In other news, I now have PDF collections of my 2014 dolls and outfits to download! So if you want to print them out, you don’t have to fuss with each individual PDF any more. They’re pay what you want, including $0, and you don’t even have to sign up for anything or have any credit card information if you get them for free.

I don’t have an elf dress ready for the next contest, but let’s get it started anyway! I will have it done by next week at the latest, and the winner can decide on the coloring then. I promise it’ll be pretty!

To enter the contest, post a comment with your favorite time period for clothes. One comment per person please, and I’ll choose the winner with a random number generator. If you’ve won a contest this year, please don’t enter again. (And Mom, you’re free to enter!) The winner will get to tell me how to color an elf dress.

Introducing Leyla!

An adult female paper doll in a white and purple gown. She has dark brown skin and black hair arranged in several small box braids that curve gently around her face and fall past her shoulders. Her eyes are brown with tiny gold flecks, and she has sparkly gold eyeshadow. Her lips are full and deep  red, and she is wearing pearl earrings. She is wearing a sleeveless dress with a scoop neck, slightly gathered at the shoulders. The top is white satin, decorated with a pattern of light grey spirals. Around her hips is a belt made of gold, with a sunburst pattern in the middle. Set in the middle of the belt is a brilliant topaz rounded with pearls. The skirt is long and trumpet shaped, flaring out at the calves, and is light magenta at the top and deep purple at the base. It is covered all over with sequins. She also wears a gold circlet decorated with pearls and a second topaz.Please welcome my second paper doll in the new series, Leyla! Her name was chosen from a set of six names I picked out, and as with Mia’s name it was close for a while there but Leyla was the winner. I hope you like her! I’m very happy with her, I had a good time drawing her hair.

With my previous sets of dolls I’ve only made two for each set, but my intention is to keep going and do a new one every month until I have enough dolls to put together a soccer team. Since Leyla has been released on time, I feel very confident that I will be able to pull that off. Their outfits aren’t going to get any more varied, I’m afraid, because the dolls themselves are rather a lot of work. I’m happy with the series dress theme, though. In my imagination, Mia, Leyla and the dolls to come after are the new goddesses of my paperdollverse, and so I thought to myself, what would this little pantheon like to wear? The answer, apparently, is “lots of sparkles.”

Speaking of goddesses, the contest on Twitter is over, and the winner is Karen Martin! (Her favorite Greek goddess, by the way, is Athena.) You will see how she chose to color an ancient Greek outfit next Friday. As I mentioned before, I’m going to start doing the contests on the blog after this, so if you would like to take part next time, just keep reading!

The Oscars are on March 2nd, and that means Oscar dresses! Twice before, I’ve “livedolled” the Oscars – that is, drawn some dresses straight from the red carpet. I did this in 2009, drawing three gowns, and in 2011, drawing an amazing four gowns. I’m ready to do it again this year, but with a twist. I’ll sketch the gowns I like on my iPad and post them here as I draw them. At the end, I’ll put up a poll for which one you all like best, then I’ll make the winner into a proper dress. Also, there’ll be a special Oscars contest! The red carpet starts at 7 PM EST, 4 PM Pacific. Join me and we’ll enjoy all those great gowns together!

As always, you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for update notifications, links to things I find interesting and many, many fashion plates. If you enjoy my work, I’d also appreciate your support through Patreon.

In preparation for our Academy Awards party, let’s have a poll…

Introducing Mia!

An adult female doll in a long, flowing gown. She has olive skin and shiny brown hair arranged in large curls that extends past her shoulders. Her expression is serene and she has hazel eyes, subdued purple eyeshadow and natural pink lipstick. She has pearl earrings and pink fingernails. She is wearing a one-shoulder gown with a white satin bodice patterned with thin, light grey scrolls. The skirt of the gown is yellow near the waist, then gradually turns to orange, then to red near the hem, and is sparkling all over. A gold belt separates the two parts of the gown, and has a large amethyst circled by a ring of pearls. She is wearing a gold circlet decorated with pearls and three smaller amethysts.Meet Mia, my first digitally-colored doll! I hope you all like her, as I’ve worked very hard to prepare a doll that I was happy with. I also intend to release other dolls to go with her, hopefully once a month. Mia’s name was partially chosen by people on the mailing list and people who follow me on Facebook and Twitter: I chose five names I liked, then made a poll. Right up to the very end, Mia and Amethyst were tied, but Mia pulled forward at the very end. I enjoyed the poll and will probably do it for future dolls!

The site is also shiny and new, thanks to my husband Brian Kerr of Different Chairs. Brian happens to do this sort of thing for a living, and he worked with me to create a fabulous showcase for my art and make the site faster, easier to read and tablet and mobile phone-friendly. The results are amazing, and I feel very lucky that I can put my new, more detailed digital coloring work on such a simple, but sophisticated site. It’s even got its own domain name! (Took me long enough.)

You’ll notice some changes. First, if you want to print out the dolls and dresses, you’ll want to use the PDFs; the other graphics no longer have tabs. This is so that you can enjoy the detail without the tabs to distract you, and also so that the pages print out consistently.

There is also a black-and-white version that you can print out, too! When I was drawing paper dolls that had black outlines, I used to make black-and-white versions of the dresses, but when I stopped outlining the drawings, that was the end of versions that you could color yourself. Now, because of the way I transfer my drawings to digital versions, it’s simple to make black-and-white versions of the dresses. If you color them yourself, I’d love to see the results!

I’ve made it easier to follow me on social media: I post site updates and my thoughts about paperdolling on Twitter @lianapaperdolls, site updates, things I’ve been working on and fun links on my Facebook fan page, and a steady stream of ballgowns, saris and Art Nouveau jewelry on my Pinterest boards. You can also sign up for my mailing list, the form is on the top right-hand side of the page. I’d love if you’d follow me on whichever of these fine platforms best suits you, or just come back to the page every Friday!

I finished my Paperdoll Retrospective from the other day by saying that the best days of this blog are still to come. I hope you’ll agree that Mia is a good start!

Come back next Friday for a medieval gown fit for a queen. The subject was chosen by my Facebook fans, and the coloring will be decided by Nikki Paulsen, who won my contest.

Edit (Feb. 2, 2014): I’ve edited the PDFs so that the dolls and dresses are slightly smaller, so that more elaborate gowns will be able to fit into the printable area on the page. If you’ve already downloaded the old PDFs, please delete them and download the new ones!

Black Velvet and Chartreuse Gown with Spiderweb Lace

A black ballgown with a flared, full skirt and long sleeves. The skirt is made of black velvet, with triangular cutouts that start near the waist which reveal a underskirt made of swirled green and chartreuse fabric and covered with lace that looks like spiderwebs. There are two flies trapped in the webs. There's a wide V-shaped copper belt at the waist, set with orange, green and yellow jewels. The bodice is made of black velvet and has a feathery pattern near the top. There are more copper accents near the shoulders, and the green sleeves are straight, fall to the wrist, and are overlaid with more spiderweb lace.Click for larger version (PNG); click for PDF version. Click here for the list of dolls.

It’s almost Halloween, the paperdoll-friendly holiday, and I’ve been thinking about what would make a dress scary. The things that scare me don’t generally translate well to dresses, though, since they are too intangible. But there’s a couple of fears that aren’t…

My pride causes me to say I’m not scared of spiders, I just don’t like looking at them. If I put it that way, it’s perfectly reasonable to do things like cover up a picture of a spider when I’m reading a book, or avoid the tarantula exhibit at the zoo.

But it’s never reasonable, really, to wake up my husband at 4 AM when there’s a spider in the bathroom. It’s not reasonable that I have to use paper or my phone to cover up a spider picture in a book, and not my hand. And it’s not really reasonable to move as quickly as I do when there’s one close to me. Before I know it I’m halfway across the room, denying that anything’s wrong at all, I’m just fine, it’s not like I’m scared of such a little spider, because that would be ridiculous. (It’s gone now, right?)

When I was a little kid, I was scared of black holes, and I feel like I’ve gone down in the world since I stopped fearing the random indifference of the universe and picked up such a pathetically obvious, stupid, gendered weakness. I know perfectly well they’re more afraid of me than I am of them. I know they eat lots of annoying bugs and that they’ve only got two more legs than ants (which I don’t mind at all). I know I can kill them perfectly well myself, and I do, if there’s no other option. I put on my heaviest shoes and make a lot of noise, cursing each stupid spider leg and shouting warnings to all the other spiders that they’d better stay well out of my sight, or they’re gonna get it too. I calm myself down by calling up my husband and telling him “I killed a spider!” just like a normal person might say “I got a promotion!” or “I won a new car!” Kind man that he is, he indulges me.

If you were to stalk me over my various online activities, you’d notice I almost never mention this fear, because I’m just paranoid enough to consider how people could use it against me. There’s no real reason to share with the world how to yank this particular chain. But oh well — it’s Halloween, and while I amuse myself with ghosts, vampires and sorceresses, I don’t believe in the supernatural. I’m mostly just frightened of the quirks and instability of the human mind… and spiders.

What do spiders have to do with this gown, do you wonder? Well, there’s the spiderweb lace, and a couple of twitchy, fat flies caught in it. There must be a spider around somewhere, don’t you think? Ah, yes. A gigantic one, four feet long, with spindly long legs and a full set of eyes.

It’s on the petticoat.

Does that make the whole dress different for you? It does for me. I’ve drawn nothing, but all the same it’s still there, just like those spiders that disappear behind furniture while I’m still dithering about looking for my shoes. Now, is it merely embroidered or painted on? Or does it cling to the thin lace on the petticoat, waiting for its host to lure some prey away from the party and into the shadows? Dance with the lady in black and green at the Halloween ball this year, if you like, but I hope you will have the sense to leave that particular mystery well alone.

I’m never going to talk about spiders on this blog again, so let’s have a poll…