I designed these paper dolls in the style of the fashion plates of the 1860s. My goal is to make them available for sale in the near future! The original paperdolls are simply outlines, as they are in the images above. I’ve colored them and “dressed” the dolls below to give you an idea of how they would look.
Because Meg is 17 years old and work outside of her home caring for the children of a wealthy family, she dresses in adult styles. She likes to follow fashions, but understands how to do so practically, with limited means.
This dress is inspried by one that Meg wears in the 1994 movie of Little Women. it is adult-length, nearly touching the floor. The full skirt is box-pleated to the waistband. The buttons in the front are likely decorative–would you want to make so many buttonholes by hand? There are likely hooks and eyes closing the front opening.
The bodice is gathered to fit, as is typical of cotton work dresses, but the trimming and tucks dress it up a bit. The sleeves are curved coat sleeves with as exaggerated elbow as fashion dictated.
She wears her hair up in adult styles. Her small shoes are fashionable two-color , side-lacing boots with a low heel.
Like Meg, Jo works outside the home helping out her Aunt Josephine and keeping her company. At 16-years-old she is old enough to begin wearing her hair up, but she threatens to “wear it in two tails ’til she’s twenty!” if wearing it up means that she must act like a lady. Fortunately, as she matures she finds that being a lady isn’t as bad as she thought.
Her dress is made of very lightweight sheer fabric, so even though it has long sleeves, it is cool to wear in the summer. The full sleeves and bodice make the most of the the sheer fabric’s qualities. Jo sometimes wears a sash of a different color to add interest to the dress. She wears her sturdy balmoral boots whenever she leaves the house.
Beth is 14 years old and generally not in the best of health. She tries to do her part in the family and carries some of the load of housework that her older sisters leave to her, since they don’t spend a lot of time at home. She doesn’t bother to wear a hoopskirt in the house–it would just get in the way. Instead she wears multiple petticoats to get the full-skirted look which is so popular.
Beth wears dresses in this style almost every day. Details like sleeves are different to add interest, but all of them close in the back and have a skirt hem that is about mid-calf length. This summer dress has short puffed sleeves and the bodice is gathered to fit. The skirt is gauged to fit the waist with tiny pleats.
Generally she wears her hair braided to keep it out of the way and she wears houseshoes or just stockings on her feet.
At just 12 years old, Amy is still a child even though she may try to act older. Her skirts are shorter due to her age. Her dress is a hand-me-down from her cousin so to add her own personal touch, she likes to tie a ribbon sash around her waist when she wears it. It is made of lightweight fabric with an open neckline and short, open sleeves, so it is very cool to wear. It closes in the back and the front bodice features a yoke with pleats. The skirt is also pleated.
Since Amy can’t wear her hair up like a grown woman, she wears it in natural ringlets. Her small boots are colored leather to satisfy her fashion taste, but still sturdy because she is a child, afterall.