Make Paper Dolls Designs

Dolls are one of the oldest toys known to humankind. And while paper dolls can hardly trace their lineage back to the Stone Age, they maintain a respectable place as a traditional toy which first gained popularity with the Victorians and then went on to become a staple activity for many a rainy afternoon.

The reason for this is simple. Making paper dolls is easy and fun. Expensive art materials are not required, and young children can be safely left to pursue this hobby without direct adult supervision.

But it's not only children who can enjoy this hobby. Adults, too, collect dolls - and while antique porcelain dolls or those delicately detailed Asian ball-jointed dolls can be pricey, paper dolls remain very economical.

Read on to learn how to make your own paper dolls!

Many more dolls and gifts available at Spooky Cute Designs.
Many more dolls and gifts available at Spooky Cute Designs.
Doll design needn't be traditional.  How many of you have seen a werewolf paper doll before?
Doll design needn't be traditional. How many of you have seen a werewolf paper doll before?

Make Your Own Paper Dolls!


  • paper
  • pencil
  • firm card
  • child-safe glue
  • child-safe scissors
  • colouring pencils, wax crayons, felt pens or child-safe paints

How to Make Your Doll!

Draw your doll with a base onto paper. You can make your doll look any way you wish - your imagination is your only limitation. Your doll can be young or old, male or female, and you can colour it to your own liking. It's up to you!

Glue the doll and base onto firm card. You needn't buy anything special for this - you could use clean food packaging on the unprinted side, for example. Wait until the glue is fully dry before you cut the doll out.

So your doll can stand up, make a slim rectangular piece of card. Fold this in half to make a 'V' shape, and cut two slots which will slide into two corresponding slots in the doll's base.

Now you're ready to dress your doll!

Clothes for Paper Dolls!


  • paper
  • pencil
  • coloured pencils, wax crayons, felt pens or child-safe paints
  • child-safe scissors

How to Make your Doll's Clothes!

Once you've made your doll, now it's time to make some clothes. What kind of clothes are you going to make? The choice is entirely your own. You could make ballet costumes or ball gowns, school uniforms or trendy beach wear. You could re-create costumes from historical times, or even design something totally new and as yet unseen on any fashion catwalk! Space-age, steam-punk or romantic and retro - it's totally up to you!

Place your doll flat on a sheet of paper, and use the doll's shape to draw round to ensure the clothes will fit. Remember to add tabs - those little squares you can see in the pictures here - as these will fold over the doll and stop the clothes from falling off.

Then design your own styles and colour them in. Cut out the clothes with tabs, and you're ready to have fun playing dressing up!

Further Ideas for Paper Dolls

Paper dolls could be an economical addition to home-schooling projects, such as paper-making, printing, historical costumes and cultures, and contemporary fashion design.

It is possible to make your own theatre from card, and populate with actors made from paper dolls - a fun way of staging your own plays.

Making paper dolls is also suitable for a child who is convalescing, as the activity can readily be done on a tray resting on the bed. 

Home-schoolers might consider using paper dolls as part of a lesson in historical costume, or in miniature theatrical productions.
Home-schoolers might consider using paper dolls as part of a lesson in historical costume, or in miniature theatrical productions.

© 2009 Adele Cosgrove-Bray

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Comments 9 comments

Jen's Solitude profile image

Jen's Solitude 7 years ago from Delaware

Thanks for the trip down memory lane, I haven't thought about paper dolls since I was a child. They are certainly not the paper dolls I remember. LOL Much more sophisticated and artistic and an inexpensive way to have fun. Very good hub!


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

I remember being fascinated by paper dolls. I still remember mine perfectly, even moments of playing with them. I practiced at trying to make my own. Sometimes it worked out, sometimes it didn't. Enjoyed this article much. Thank you.

glassvisage profile image

glassvisage 7 years ago from Northern California

Ah, I used to play with paper dolls all the time, but these are different than the ones I used to have :) Interesting designs!

AdeleCosgroveBray profile image

AdeleCosgroveBray 7 years ago from Wirral, Cheshire, England. Author

Thank you for your kind comments, everyone.

betherann profile image

betherann 6 years ago from Montana

When I was younger I was crazy for paper dolls. I could play with them for hours. Thank you for this great hub!

twopeasinapod123 profile image

twopeasinapod123 6 years ago from New York

I have always liked paper dolls as a child to play with. When I was able to keep them long enough before wearing them out, I would make clothes for them. It would keep me busy for hours.

AdeleCosgroveBray profile image

AdeleCosgroveBray 6 years ago from Wirral, Cheshire, England. Author

Thanks for dropping by, Betherann and Twopeasinapod. My sister and I used to play with them for hours, too.

Shannel 4 years ago

I like paper dolls I make my own doll I even. Design it by my own even though I'm a kid I could already sell

AdeleCosgroveBray profile image

AdeleCosgroveBray 4 years ago from Wirral, Cheshire, England. Author

Why not do just that, Shannel? Perhaps you could take a look at sites like Zazzle or DeviantArt, through which you can sell your designs.

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