Asked on Aug 04, 2014

What to do with 1950's paper dolls!

Judy J.
by Judy J.
My friend found these vintage paper dolls and costumes at a recent estate sale. She brought them to me in hopes that I could figure out how to display them for her. We've discussed having them framed, put in a shadow box, or decoupaged on something. Frankly, I'm stumped! They are very delicate and she would like a way to display & preserve them. The dolls themselves are 9 inches tall. Can you help with ideas?
  32 answers
  • Sheila Hollaway Sheila Hollaway on Aug 04, 2014
    I would decoupage them on a wardrobe or hope chest or even a dresser would be nice and a way to display them and enjoy them everyday!
  • Barbara Barbara on Aug 04, 2014
    Frame them by the page. Several would make a nice grouping.
  • Becky Novak Becky Novak on Aug 05, 2014
    @Judy J. I LOVE these fabulous memories from my childhood! I might group a doll, a dress, & an accessory in each of 4 frames. (11 x 14 with the 14 being the width.) Maybe use a vintage paper (or fabric) as the background... Whatever you do with them I can't wait to see your finished project!
  • Linda J Linda J on Aug 05, 2014
    Becky took my idea! lol No kidding, display in a frame would preserve and show them off.
  • Gail Gail on Aug 05, 2014
    I put mine on chipboard and polyeurathaned over them and my grandchild is still using them; and then they go back in a end table with glass top to display until the next time she plays.
  • Morena Hockley Morena Hockley on Aug 05, 2014
    They are darling! If you ever scan and share them, I'd love to download a copy!
  • I think framing would sure you spray with an archivial (sp.) spray to keep the paper from crumbling.
  • Judy J. Judy J. on Aug 05, 2014
    Thank to all who responded. I love your ideas, especially Becky's on putting them in 4 frames. I'll present all your comments to my friend and see which she picks. I'll upload a picture when it's all done!
  • Gracie Gracie on Aug 05, 2014
    I would scan them on photo transfer paper and print them on curtains and comforters then I would frame the originals nice little girls or craft room.
  • Katharine S Katharine S on Aug 06, 2014
    I'd scan them before cutting them into frames. Then you have a copy incase it rips while you are framing them. If you like images like this go here:
  • P.j. C P.j. C on Aug 06, 2014
    I love the idea of scanning the originals to make fabric or paper to use in a little girl's room. I wouldn't decoupage or cut any of the originals, just frame each entire page. The copied paper could be cut &/or decoupaged as much as you want!
  • Susan E Susan E on Aug 06, 2014
    Scanned and printed out for wrapping paper for little girl's gifts.
  • Meloni Simpson Meloni Simpson on Aug 06, 2014
    I love paper dolls. These are a great find. I think I would display in frames and not decoupage, that would ruin.
  • BetiH BetiH on Aug 06, 2014
    Hi-wow they are a great find! I am a collage artist and would agree that you make a shadow box too-you can tell a "story" with these by using an old page from a children's story book as the background, or a child's poem,or a music song page from that era...and put tiny foam squares(like those in scrap-booking supplies) behind the dolls to lift and give depth...pose them in a conversational way?with pets? or maybe having a party! You can add cut outs from vintage children's' books from the same era.If you can't find those in a thrift or antique store, you can age a newer book pages with a weak tea solution (do let it dry well before using.)Enjoy! These are wonderful!
  • Judy J. Judy J. on Aug 07, 2014
    Great idea! I love collage and had thought about a shadow box, but was afraid they would just "disappear" in there! Lifting them up and to the forefront is a great idea. Thanks.
  • GR GR on Aug 07, 2014
    What a fabulous find! I definitely like the idea of scanning them so you can re-use the images and keeping the originals intact. They look to be in amazing condition and must be very rare now.
  • Judy J. Judy J. on Aug 16, 2014
    Well, I finished one of the shadow boxes as a 1950's kitchen and put 2 of the paper dolls in it. I have another box that I'll put the other 2 in and make it a bedroom. Thought ya'll might want to see the finished product!
    • See 2 previous
    • Katharine S Katharine S on Aug 20, 2014
      @Judy J. Oh it is so charming. I love paper dolls and doll stuff. Did you get my link to Free Pretty Things? She has tons of similar images like your dolls. I also love what you did in the bedroom too. Great idea for a doily. :)
  • BetiH BetiH on Aug 18, 2014
    Wow! What Fantastic creativity! I love it-let's join them and have a cup of coffee!
  • Judy J. Judy J. on Aug 19, 2014
    I finished the bedroom shadow box last night! I don't know which one I like the best, the kitchen or the bedroom! I wanted to make a very sweet, girly room for 2 young girls in the 50's.
  • GR GR on Aug 19, 2014
    Oh wow, these are amazing! The attention to detail is incredible. I'm not sure which I like best either but I certainly love them both:-)
  • Ros746238 Ros746238 on Nov 01, 2014
    I can't believe these are the very paper dolls I played with (in the 50's) my mother bought for me when I was recuperating in the hospital. I never thought I would see them again!! They brought me endless pleasure and comfort for many years!!
  • Ida Jane davis Ida Jane davis on Jan 01, 2015
    I loved the Betsy McCall dolls. Has anyone run across any ? Jane Davis
    • Norah Norah on Nov 03, 2016
      I know this is an old post, but they are all available online for free. We printed a bunch, laminated then and added magnets, and put then in dollar store Christmas tins for adorable gifts for little girls!
  • Mary Hardwidge Mary Hardwidge on Jan 02, 2015
    I scanned old paper dolls and their clothing, using spray adhesive I attached them to sheets of magnets that were easily cut with scissors. I use them on the refrigerator, I also took the same set and made them into magnets for a little girls magnet board in her bedroom.
  • Kathy O'Gara Kathy O'Gara on Feb 01, 2015
    I have these very same paper dolls from when I was a kid!
  • Tex1087666 Tex1087666 on Feb 02, 2015
    Love all the creativity! Now I have ideas for saving my Shirley Temple paper dolls I have from when I was kid!
  • Snapoutofit Snapoutofit on Dec 21, 2015
    I think you should take them to a Kinkos or other copy printer place and make copies and keep the originals intact. They are too priceless to cut up, save the originals and use the copies. You could make a banner, like the current ones out there.
  • Snapoutofit Snapoutofit on Dec 21, 2015
    Another idea: using copies of them, why not make a couple dolls and include the sheets of clothes and give to some little girls?
  • Anna Ibarra Anna Ibarra on Nov 03, 2016
    I love paper dolls. I bought some for a goddaughter and then I found some at Target on clearance. Found another set at Goodwill, new, as Goodwill gets merchandise from Target. I still have them and now I have a granddaughter and she loves dolls, and stuff animals. I'll wait till she's older, now she's 17 months, and has clear interest in one that I have hanging in my sewing room. Cute ideas here.
  • 17335038 17335038 on Sep 16, 2017

    If you haven't done anything crafty to repurpose them yet, they may fetch good $ on eBay. Anything nostalgic that is no longer made sells these days to collectors and just ordinary people remembering their childhood.

    I grew up playing with these, although where I came from, they were referred to as "Cut-Outs" not Paper-Dolls.

  • Inetia Inetia on Sep 16, 2017

    Decoupage some to the front of dresser drawers. They would be cute decoupaged to a wall border. If you don't want to incorporate them permanently into the decor, display them in dollar store picture frames and create a picture wall. This link is about preserving and displaying paper dolls.

  • Ebbjdl Ebbjdl on Sep 16, 2017

    Check them out on eBay. I'd sell them before they deteriate, they are only paper. They will lose their color, and their shape. If their worth money preserve them, and keep. EJL.