I love rummaging in vintage shops, finding treasures and inspiration. You find old treasured teddies standing on the shelves, waiting patiently for new homes; dolls that are verging on the edge of creepy for all those but the original owner; and battered walkers that would not pass a modern toy safety test!
I always keep my eye out for old patterns, for doll clothes and toys, many written with the idea that the toy would be pulled together using offcuts from making and repairing clothes. I also adore the illustrations in vintage children’s books – particularly Mabel Lucie Attwell.
Whilst I was looking through a box of old pattern magazines I came across paper dolls. They hark back to before Victorian times (the first manufactured paper doll was “Little Fanny” in 1810) and are simple printed dolls and outfits on sheets of paper that you cut out and play with.
Not only does this sound great fun; but by being paper they are a sustainable, recyclable option, unlike many of the free gifts stuck on the front of magazines today. Talking to the older generations in my village these were a common part of the magazines of their youth – they had fond memories of the dolls in Bunty magazine!
We should never underestimate the importance of children learning to make something for themselves, and for my daughters I have found helping them to create something for play with really encourages them to have a go. A simple paper toy is a great way to start.
Why not have a go at your own paper doll? I have made my colour and cut paper doll available as a free printable for you to download. Ideally it needs to be printed on card, but if this isn’t possible I suggest you print on paper and then glue onto a piece of thin card such as a cereal packet before cutting out. I’d love to see how you get on so please tag me in your photos on social media (Instagram @polly_had_a_dolly).
If you aren’t into paper dolls why not head over to my sister-in-law’s website – Samantha Eynon has some lovely printable paper animals just waiting for playtime! Check them out —->