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22 Av 5759 - August 4, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
Creativity Corner:
Modesty - An Adornment for Life and the Use of Paper Dolls

by Devora Piha

Part II

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. (See below.)

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.)


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 cardboard

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 optional.

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 through.

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 outline.

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 them.


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.


1. "Strength and dignity are her clothing" (Mishlei 31:25).

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 25:2).

5. "There is nothing more appealing and beautiful than modesty" (Midrash Tanchuma, Ki Siso 31).


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