Paper dolls are an offshot of the period of mass publication,
printing and wide availability of paper. They originated as a
jumping doll or puppet called Pantins that danced when the
strings in the backs were pulled, and were brought via the
French or British to colonial America in the mid 1700s. Paper
dolls without moving parts soared into popularity in the
eighteenth century along with the development of color
printing. This allowed them to be used as an advertising
device: free or minimal-cost gifts sponsored by the
manufacturers for people who purchased their products and
services. These promotional gimmicks and fads were appealing
to children and therefore caught on with their parents.
Advertising slogans and messages were printed on the back of
the paper dolls.
We are well aware of the impact of the printed and spoken
word. In the Torah world, every effort is made to speak,
write and read a clean pure language whose usage is
prescribed according to halocho. Therefore, we avoid
language that is misleading or causes loss or harm to others.
A message on the back of a toy paper doll made at home by a
mother and daughter can be used as an opportunity for
chinuch. A different posuk regarding the
lasting value of modesty can be written behind each outfit.
The topic of modesty is multifaceted. A modest and refined
appearance should communicate humility and wisdom combined.
It is the proper covering for the palace that houses the
sacred soul. Tznius is not only in the outward
appearance of girls and women, it is in their actions and
mental posture, as Rabbi Falk carefully points out.
The following paper doll project is based on the idea of
double dolls from old time advertising paper dolls. Here, in
keeping with the Jewish ability to adapt kosher values to the
non-kosher culture, we convert paper dolls with messages to
be a model for modest fashions. The double dolls have two
dolls drawn or printed on one side of light cardboard and
folded at the shoulders to form two sides. Where the dolls
fold at the shoulder is an opening for the insertion of the
main doll. The nice thing about this doll is that she is
fully dressed before the child puts on and off the other
outfits. The shape and outline of the cut-out doll and her
clothing remains the same for all the outfits. Each outfit
has its double other outfit attached at the shoulders so a
Shabbos dress in a companion to a nightgown or a vacation
outfit is a companion to a school uniform. Shoes, hats,
school bags, purses, books, a bouquet of flowers, a toy or a
shopping basket are all drawn on the same cut out card. There
are no small pieces or tabs to hold the outfits on to the
doll. This doll will stand up on its own because of the tent-
like structure of the double outfits when they are folded in
position. On the back, write a posuk that tells us
about the benefits of tzinus, a different one on each
outfit. (See below.)
DOUBLE DRESSED PAPER DOLLS (see illustration)
1. Light cardboard, 9 x 12 inches
2. A few sheets of white paper, 9 x 12 inches
3. Tracing paper, pencil, eraser, pen
4. Scissors or Exacto blade knife (sakin yapani). Use
knife with parental guidance and cut on thick piece of
5. Ruler, glue or adhesive tape (optional)
6. Colored papers, optional
1. On a piece of light cardboard, draw a doll 5 inches tall
and approximately 2 1/2 inces wide (or larger) wearing a
dress, stockings, shoes. A hat and accessories are
2. Color. Cut out.
3. Trace around the complete doll and dress, carefully
drawing the neckline out OMITTING HEAD AND NECK. Make sure
the neckline will be wide enough to allow the head to be put
4. Cut out the tracing to use as a pattern.
5. For the clothing, fold a piece of paper in half.
6. AT THE FOLD LINE, place the traced pattern and retrace the
7. Draw the outfits as you like, using the same perimeters
for each outfit.
8. Draw the patterns on the "fabric."
9. Color. Cut out, Be careful not to separate the shoulders
of dress on fold side one from fold side two. You will have
two outlines for two outfits now.
10. Read below for tips on cutting, coloring and fabric
patterns from the description of traditional paper dolls.
The following are directions for making traditional paper
dolls using the tabs to hold on the clothing over a
"gingerbread cookie" doll.
`GINGERBREAD COOKIE' DOLLS are drawn on thin cardboard
freehand or traced from another source such as an existing
paper doll or from a suitable coloring or activity book. 6
1/2 inches tall by 4 inches wide is a good size. Before
tracing out the doll, glue a white or colored piece of paper
to the cardboard. Color facial features and hair with felt
tipped pens for the best control and a flat color. If
desired, use shades of gray in areas where folds, creases,
seams and edges such as on hair and bangs occur for a three
dimensional effect. Cut out dolls with an Exacto blade-knife
or a good pair of scissors that can get into small areas. It
is a good idea to draw each finger and toe clearly because
knowledge of fingers are considered essential parts of a self-
portrait that children may be expected to draw indicating
readiness to enter the first grade. It is not necessary to
cut around every finger unless desired. Simply cut out the
whole hand at once in mitten fashion. Dolls can be made to
stand up with a long triangular piece of cardboard that has
two creases one half inch apart in the center instead of one
and is adhered with glue. The optional stand is 4 inches tall
by 2 inches wide.
When designing outfits, it is advisable to make all-in- one
suits that hang from the shoulders so that skirts do not fall
off. Pockets can be added by drawing the pocket and then
cutting it open at the top with blade knife or scissors. A
tehillim, books, a teddy bear, keys, glasses, mixing
spoons, baby dolls and toy bottles can then be placed inside
and secured with double - sided tape or other tape. Hats are
held into place with two back bending flaps or by sticking on
with glue, or tape a double piece of cardboard so that the
head actually does go inside of a hat.
Patterns on the clothing should be pleasant and not attract
undo attention. Patterns include dots, stripes, plaids and
floral. It may be a good idea to work out your pattern first
on a trial sheet of paper to get the colors and the
repetition of the design regulated. Floral and dots will go
"off" the edges. A half of a circle or a flower will occur at
regular intervals at the edges of the fabric. As with all the
creative projects, they can become as simple and basic as you
like or as elaborate and professional as you have the time
and interest for. This, too, all depends on the age of the
children you are doing it for. Young girls can often do these
things by themselves if it is first explained and shown to
TRADITIONAL PAPER OR CARDBOARD DOLLS
1. Draw a `gingerbread cookie' doll that is at least 5 1/2
inches by 2 1/2 inches or larger.
2. Place tracing paper over doll.
3. Draw the outline of clothing on top of the doll.
4. Cut out the tracing paper to use as a pattern.
5. Draw square tabs on top of shoulder area.
6. Place tracing pattern on a piece of paper.
7. Trace out as many outfits as you like. Color clothing.
8. Cut out clothing, being careful not to cut off the tabs
that hold the clothing to the doll.
10. Place clothing on doll. Bend tabs backward over shoulders
to hold clothing in place.
11. Repeat for each article of clothing.
PESUKIM IDENTIFIED WITH TZNIYUS
1. "Strength and dignity are her clothing" (Mishlei
2. "All the glory of the king's daughter is internal; her
garb is of gold settings" (Tehillim 45:14).
3. "Bashfulness guides a person to Gan Eden" (Ovos 5:20).
4. "The glory of Hashem is in the unrevealed" (Mishlei
5. "There is nothing more appealing and beautiful than
modesty" (Midrash Tanchuma, Ki Siso 31).