Make Paper Dolls From Recycled Materials

My daughter and I had a blast this weekend making paper dolls from scratch. It was wonderful for so many reasons; unleashed creativity, fine motor skill development, hours of focused attention, while continuing to establish the concept of beauty as a truly flexible and personally defined art.

A bit of a fashionista, my daughter reveled in the decoration of new outfits. When I say “fashionista“, it’s not a Hollywood thing; Jasmine just loves the artistry of personal adornment. In making our own dolls, we were completely freed from images of conventional beauty I see on T-Shirts and television shows for young girls. We followed our fancy with our patterns, color choices, faces, and hairstyles. Jasmine painted her own paper doll face, glued a wooly cloud of hair around her crown, and decorated the undergarments. Once she’d learned how to create the clothing with me, she struck out on her own and began to create her own designs. Hours of fun.

Here’s how you can do it:

1) Flatten a cereal box with blank insides.
2) Draw the pattern of your doll with a pencil. I just drew our pattern free-hand, but you can download patterns online. For younger children, the simpler the shapes the better.
3) Cut out your doll.
4) Decorate. We used dyed wool for the hair, but you could use felt or yarn.
4) To create clothing:
Using a tiny amount of tape, tape your doll to the outside of a window, or just hold it up to a window. Hold a piece of white paper (can be used typing paper from an office) over the doll and trace the contours of the doll in the shape of the clothing you’d like to create.
Tracing doll
5) Cut out the clothing, including several tabs evenly spaced around the clothing to hold it in place.
6) Decorate with oil pastels or pens for vibrant colors.
7) Fold the tabs over the doll to hold in place. For Jasmine, we had enough trouble that we added a bit of sticker velcro to the doll’s back. On each tab, we placed a tiny piece of velcro – not so much it would create pressure to rip the paper, but just enough that the outfits would stick on the body more easily. It allowed us to have a bit more flexibility with the styling of our clothing if we didn’t need to worry about the perfect fit.


Tamara Mendelson
Tamara Mendelson5 years ago

Seems like the kind of activity kids are missing out on these days. It's so sad how I invited my 7 year old cousin over, and I took out paper lunch bags and colored paper and markers and glue and buttons etc., and said we should make puppets and maybe put on a puppet show. It tore my heart when she had no idea what we were doing or what she was supposed to do. When I was younger, I did crafts all the time!

Heidi H.
Past Member 5 years ago

So simple and so much fun. Who didn't enjoy this type of toy when they were young? Great idea.

Kamryn M.
Kay M5 years ago

ah, the way things used to be.

ANA MARIJA R5 years ago

:))))) Thank you!

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W6 years ago

I used to make paper dolls as a child, but later I grew out of that.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W6 years ago

I used to make paper dolls as a child, but later I grew out of that.

Smith M.
.8 years ago

My granddaughter’s teacher is reading the Little House books to her class and you’ve given me a great idea for a gift (for my granddaughter, not the teacher). Thank you!
32gb compact flash

Joyce Stringfello
Joyce S8 years ago

Thanks for the information on paper doll sites.

Lee H.
Lee H.8 years ago

I spent many hours making paper dolls as a child and had a huge collection of celebrity paper dolls. I've added this craft as a Paper Doll resource at

Barbara F.
Barbara F.8 years ago

Paper Dolls were my favorite pastime as a child. I remember spreading them all over my bedroom floor. Scale didn't matter; they all interacted with other. I'm so glad you are resurrecting the art with your child.