Make Homemade Paper Dolls with fabric scraps, buttons and ribbons.
The hooligans and I have been working on an ongoing project for the past week or so. We’ve been making a set of homemade paper dolls, using scraps and ribbons from my fabric bin.
I loved playing with paper dolls when I was a kid, and I still love them. There’s something so magical and nostalgic about a paper doll.
Their simplicity is lovely, and decorating and dressing up a paper doll with bits of yarn and fabric scraps is just delightful for a child.
Making paper dolls is a great way to explore textiles with your child:
I don’t know about you, but I’m like a kid in a candy store when it comes to fabric and buttons and crafty odds and ends, and the hooligans love them too. Rummaging through a bin of fabric scraps is such a wonderful sensory experience for kids. There are so many textures to explore: satin, flannel, tweed, felt, cotton, fleece etc. I’m a quilter, and most of the quilts I’ve made have been for babies and children, so many of the fabrics I have are bright, colourful, kid-friendly patterns, so they are a delight for children to look at and pour over.
Sifting through a pile of buttons is also a great sensory activity. There are so many colours and styles to look at, and the feel of the buttons, and the sound that they make as they rattle together is wonderful. You wouldn’t believe how many adults I’ve heard from who say that one of their fondest childhood memories is playing with their mother’s or grandmother’s button collection.
Homemade Paper Doll supplies:
- white cardboard
- fabric scraps (flannel, felt, cottons, poly-cottons etc.)
- craft foam shapes
- googly eyes
- glue sticks
- sewing scissors
Where can I get white cardboard?
Many of our craft projects start out on a piece of cardboard. Cereal boxes are perfect for most of what we do. However, there are times when we need to start out with a piece of white cardboard. Some food packaging is white on the inside, so I always keep those boxes, but here’s where I get large pieces of white cardboard: I have a friend who works for a food packaging company (they make cake boxes, cereal boxes, and such). She brings me the cast off ends of their large rolls of board. Sometimes these are large sheets, and sometimes, they’re narrow strips a couple of feet long. Either way, they’re perfect for all of the crafting we do.
How to make your paper dolls:
I began by drawing a very basic paper doll on a sheet of white paper. I more or less used a “gingerbread man” shape.
Then I folded the piece in half, right down the middle of the drawing, and cut it out, using one side of the drawing as a guide, so the cut-out would be perfectly symmetrical.
I traced that shape on to my white cardboard, and cut it out. Voila! A Paper Doll! Ok, so technically it’s a cardboard doll, but you know what I mean.
How to make hair for a homemade paper doll:
To make the hair for our paper dolls, I looped a long length of yarn several times, knotted it in the middle, and cut through the looped ends. You can add a ribbon to cover the knot in the hair if you want to.
Decorating our paper dolls:
For the clothes for our paper dolls, the hooligans picked the fabrics and ribbons that they liked, and I roughly cut the pieces to fit the dolls, and they glued them in place. Don’t worry about being too exact here, you can trim them to fit later.
They dressed their dolls with skirts, tops, leggings, belts, buttons and shoes (which we cut from craft foam pieces).
To finish, we used googly eyes, pink craft foam circles and markers to make the dolls’ faces.
Aren’t they just the sweetest?
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Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. In 1997, Jackie stepped out of the corporate world to start a family and to open her own home daycare. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.