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.

White Cake Dress with Pink Ombre Rosettes for Broken Age

A very light ivory ballgown with an almost exaggeratedly large, floor length skirt. It is off the shoulder, with a line of pink rosettes across the top. The bodice is fitted and decorated with a pattern of white lines and dots arranged into a sunburst shape, with a polka dot and grid pattern covering the background. Both patterns are shaded to look as if they're white frosting on a white cake. The waist is V-shaped and is edged with a line of small silver balls. The overskirt is open at the front, showing a large part of the underskirt. The top half of the underskirt has a pattern of delicate white scrolls and the words "Treat Yourself!" written in loopy cursive in pink frosting. The bottom half consists of three large rows of rosettes, designed to look like they were made out of icing. The top rosette row is very pale pink, the second is a shade darker and the third is even more darker, creating an ombre effect. The overskirt is edged with lines of small silver balls and is decorated with sunburst-shaped patterns of lines and dots going up the front sides and a polka dot and grid pattern covering the background.This ballgown was inspired by a recently released adventure game, Broken Age. Vella, our heroine and one of the two protagonists, is a young woman who lives in a town of bakers that is terrorized by a horrendous monster called Mog Chothra every 14 years. In a scene that you’ll always remember whenever you see a cake made to look like the skirt of a Barbie doll or a princess, our heroine, along with four other young women of the village, is offered to the monster as a human sacrifice at an event called the “Maidens Feast.” They are all embedded in gigantic cakes that look like skirts, which are gorgeously decorated with all the skill the villagers have and inscribed with tempting slogans like “Delish,” “Hot Stuff” and “Up For Grabs!” Each of the young women is hoping to protect her village and bring honor to her family by being selected (that is, eaten) by Mog Chothra… except for Vella. But how do you escape a floating monster the size of a mansion when you’re stuck in a cake, ready to be served up?

Broken Age is a point-and-click adventure game, notable for being one of the first Kickstarter successes. To put it simply, adventure games are rather out of fashion, but two years ago Tim Schafer, known for other classics like Grim Fandango, said to the Internet “We’ll make a new game if you give us money” and people got out their wallets, leading to this game’s release. In games like these, you solve puzzles by exploring, talking to people, finding objects and using them in the right place. Some were notorious for being unforgiving (looking at you, King’s Quest series), and some had goofy, implausible puzzles (like one where you had to disguise yourself by making a mustache from cat hair and syrup), but Broken Age is nicely designed: you can never get in a situation that you can’t get out of, and the puzzles are entertaining but not exasperating. The art is lovely, with a style that looks almost as if it was all painted, and the settings are all detailed and fun to explore. Vella is also a fun, capable heroine, who rejects her world’s passive acceptance of Mog Chothra and breaks free of the cake skirt to find a different way to protect her village. The other half of the game explores the story of a young man named Shay, whose world couldn’t be any more different from Vella’s…

Right now, only the first half of the game is out, with the second half to come later this year. I think it’s well worth the price, and if you check it out, please let me know what you think of it!

It looks our our Oscar night winner is Lupita Nyong’o’s blue Prada gown! I don’t know when I will have that up – I will try for before the end of the month, but it might be later. Also, a 1910s outfit will be our contest prize; it beat out a pirate outfit and an evening gown with over half the vote. I will do some research and some sketches, so come back next Friday for a contest and a Japanese fairytale! Until then, you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for site updates, sneak previews and ridiculous amounts of fashion plates. If you enjoy my work, I’d also appreciate your support through Patreon.

Magenta, Charcoal Grey, Olive Green and Wine Red Ruffled Gown

A strapless, velvet gown with a silver sash around the waist, a peplum, and multiple ruffles dangling from the waist. Most of the gown is dark magenta, while the ruffles are either magenta, green or red at the edges, turning grey towards the top of the ruffle.Click for larger version (PNG); click for PDF version. Click here for the list of dolls.
It’s contest time! This time it’s on Facebook, so please take a look at my Facebook page to enter. The winner gets to tell me how to color a brand new medieval dress! If you don’t use Facebook, no worries, because I plan to move the contests around. The next one may be over Twitter, through my mailing list or on this blog. This was colored for the winner of my last contest, Lauren. She guessed that my son had a thing for spoons. (It’s been long enough since then that he can’t be easily amused by just handing him a grown-up spoon. No, he wields spoons on his own these days, and he only needs me to just scrape up the last bits of peanut butter oatmeal for him.) Lauren wrote, “I like the ruffle gown from the may 15th 2010 post; I picture it in a dark purpely magenta with wine red, olive green and charcoal grey accents. I think the dress should have a velvety, smoky look to it.” I hope you like it, Lauren!

I decided to use colored pencils for this dress, just for old times’ sake. If all goes well, this will be the last dress for Grace and Ivy, and it just seemed right to color it this way. I haven’t touched my colored pencils for so long that when I started taking them out, I felt like the hero of a samurai movie or a Western who’s forsworn violence taking up the sword or gun one more time. Because of my carpal tunnel, I’ve been scared of what it would feel like, but my thumb didn’t go numb at all. It just felt awkward to draw with a brace on my hand, and my hand ached slightly. This experience made me feel more confident about moving to digital coloring. I’m not saying I’m never going to use colored pencils again, certainly. It was just plain fun to draw with them, and I’m glad I did this dress in them.

But they have so many drawbacks compared to digital coloring! For one thing, they never look as good as scanned as they do drawn. This one looks much more subtle in reality, but if I try to even it out once it’s scanned, it just looks washed out. Doing digital coloring, I know from the start how the color will look in the end, and it’s much less frustrating. Plus, I don’t have to deal with a hundred plus pencils, not to mention sharpening them. That’s a real concern! If I’m drawing while my son naps, there’s no sharpening for me.

One of the biggest problems is that there’s no changing things after the fact. I decided, after drawing the first green ruffle, that the ruffles really needed just a touch of a lighter color on the edge, otherwise they looked too flat. But it was too late to add it with colored pencils. (I added just a touch of green in Photoshop later.) With colored pencils, I put something on the page and that’s where it stays, but I can redo lines, colors and so on as often as I need to when I’m using Photoshop or Procreate (my iPad drawing program). This can be both good and bad — you should see me redraw a simple-looking line ten times to get it just right — but mostly I think it leads to better drawings.

It does make my hand hurt, sadly, although it’s nowhere near where it was when I first started wearing the wrist brace. I can tell that I don’t want to do the detail work that really makes a drawing great, just because it would involve a lot of gripping the pencil tightly and pressing really hard. It makes me feel like I just want to get this drawing done already.

All the same, using colored pencils gave me a sense of nostalgia. I’ll probably never write them off completely…

Next Friday, if all goes well, you’ll meet my new doll and see the site redesign! If all doesn’t go well, I’ll still have something pretty for you to enjoy, so no worries. Wish me luck, and wish my husband Brian luck, because he’s the one doing all the fiddly WordPress stuff! Don’t forget to enter my contest on Facebook, and for updates on how the new content is going, follow me on Twitter. Also, if you use Pinterest, please check out my profile: I’m taking a page from RLC’s book and using it for paperdoll reference — and plain old pretty thing reference, too.

Edit Jan. 24 1:17 PM: My mom suggested that I add a mask, and I thought that was a great idea, so I did! The PDF has now been fixed, too.

Ivory Lace Dress

A sleeveless ivory dress with a lace peplum and a ruffle around the knees. It's covered in ivory lace with a butterfly pattern.Click for larger version (PNG); click for PDF version. Click here for the list of dolls.

Note to self: don’t leave planning until 8:30 PM. To try to ease the pain of using this dress once more, I shortened the skirt a bit. I wanted to try making it look like white lace over an ivory background, and I don’t think I quite succeeded, but I’m glad I had a chance to practice. It’s new territory for me, after all.