Picture of Make a Paper Doll Costume
I loved playing with paper dolls as a kid, and so the idea of dressing up like a life-size paper doll made me smile. This costume is easy to make, even if you don't think you can draw. It's super cheap to make, and the best part is you can create the outfit of your paperdoll's dreams!

I got the supplies at the dollar store (and from my stash).


1 or 2 sheets of white poster board, $1 ($.50 each at Dollar Tree)
Clean clothes to trace, on hand
Paint and paintbrushes, on hand
1/4" elastic, $1 or so
Stapler and staples
Headband (optional), on hand or $1

Total Cost: $2 and up

Time for construction: About 1 hour, including paint drying time.
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Step 1: Step 1: Trace Clothing

Picture of Step 1: Trace Clothing
Lay posterboard out on work surface. Lay clothing (dress, jeans, shirt, etc.) out on posterboard. Trace around clothing with pencil. For this example, we made one big flat dress, but for comfort and movement's sake, it is better if you separate any clothing at the waist and keep two separate parts (a top and a bottom).

You can trace any clothing you want. Just remember to draw on a couple of strategically-located rectangular "tabs" - at shoulders and sides. This is crucial for selling the paper doll idea!

After you're done tracing, don't forget to draw on realistic details like buttons, zippers, bows, lace, seams, etc.

Trace over pencil with a thick-tipped black marker.

Step 2: Step 2: Paint Clothing

Picture of Step 2: Paint Clothing
Paint the drawing, filling in with color, but leave the tabs white. Feel free to get creative with color combinations.

Let the paint dry.

When paint is dry, cut clothing out around the outside outline.
cybercapri3 months ago

What a cleaver idea, well done...

0izq3 years ago
This is brilliant! Should be on Featured tutorials. Congratulations.
dollarcraft (author)  0izq3 years ago
Oh, thank you!!
waterbaby3 years ago
LOVE this! Growing up a tomboy I wasn't big on dolls, but have always loved paper dolls (maybe it's the crafty element). Any issue of McCall's magazine I spotted would have me turning to the back page to see what was going on with Betsy McCall. Or maybe it's an inherited interest: I have my mother's original-from-when-SHE-was-a-child Shirley Temple paper doll books---!

In any event, this is such a great idea, easy yet effective, creative and unique, suitable for kids and grownups alike. I think I may have to head to a dollar store this afternoon for some posterboard and headbands....
dollarcraft (author)  waterbaby3 years ago
Ooh, now you're making me want to check out issues of McCall's! I agree, I have always been a fan of paper dolls.
Betsy McCall, retired from the magazine many years ago, but there are a couple of places online where you can find scans of the pages and even download them if you want. One covers the first 10 years she was being published, 1951-1961, with high quality scans in jpeg format ( The other has direct-from-the-magazines scans (many with some bleed-through from the other side of the page) in pdf format from the beginning all the way through the 1990s (   Check them out if only to watch the changing style of both illustration and clothing over the last half of the 20th century.  Enjoy!
dollarcraft (author)  waterbaby3 years ago
Thanks so much for the links! This could prove to be my new obsession. :)
mikeasaurus3 years ago
Ha! Very creative costume!
dollarcraft (author)  mikeasaurus3 years ago
Coming from you, that means a lot! :) Much appreciated!
l8nite3 years ago
I did a quick look at your DSC website... too cool ! Thats a really cute costume, thank you for sharing
So adorable, and so easy too! I was wondering how you had the bow on her head. So simple, yet I didn't guess it!
dollarcraft (author)  Penolopy Bulnick3 years ago
I am a dollar store headband addict. You can stick anything on your head with those little things!
Cool costume! I love your concept. Why weren't dollar stores around when I was a kid? Anyway, the headband thing....I hear ya.
dollarcraft (author)  zurichko3 years ago
When I was a kid, they had "five and dimes" - but they never had cool stuff there!