Dressing Cardboard Dolls #Nostalgia

One of my childhood memories are of what I did on days when I was off sick from school.  A cardboard doll would appear, complete with tabbed dresses to put on it.  Often I could colour them in first.  Here are a selection of historic costumes which I found in Volume 2 of The Romance of the Nation by Charles Ray.

I particularly like the vivid descriptive names of the suggested colours to use.

  • For 1900 you should choose cerulean blue with a hat in Prussian blue.  Prussian blue which is a dark shade was the first modern synthetic pigment.
  • The dress of 1903 can be violet with trimmings of dark mauve
  • In 1907 cream is most suitable trimmed in vandyke brown.
  • By 1912 burnt umber is more suitable, with a “vest” of Naples yellow and trimming in raw sienna.  The accompanying hat would be best with yellow and orange flowers.
  • For the 1914 costume the dress should be sap green and the cape a dark Hooker’s green. Hooker’s green was the colour used by 19th century botanist, William Hooker for dark shades of leaf.

Payne's grey

  • In 1917 a toque hat appears but colours are left to you.
  • Yellow ochre is the suggestion for the pale areas on the 1919 costume.
  • The 1923 dress is Payne’s grey with carmine trimming.  Payne’s grey, which has a bluish tinge was named after watercolourist William Payne (1760-1830).
  • The fashionable 1930 dress should be coloured in burnt sienna trimmed with carmine and worn with raw umber stockings.
  • Finally the 1935 dress is Jubilee blue to celebrate the silver Jubilee of King George V.

To see and learn more of these colours I recommend the website Colors of Art  
And you must view these beautiful paper dolls on Maria Pareira's Pinterest page.


  1. Oh this takes me back! Thanks for a wonderful trip down memory lane.

  2. I remember these!!! 1960s ones with ladies who carried handbags and wore nice dresses :)

  3. I remember these too. Used to get them for birthdays. Does anyone remember 'magic' painting books? You added water and the colours emerged.

  4. I loved magic painting books too. Nowadays they have a magic pen which is damp and brings out the colour from the book. I also liked the paper flowers squashed into a small cube which opened up in a glass of water.

    1. I remember those too ..used to have them in my Christmas stocking!

  5. I was born in the early 60's and remember the cardboard dolls, they were a hoot!