miniswap paper dolls

It’s back to the crafting of my youth around here, paper dolls. I was so excited to read about the great idea on Amy’s blog to print out paper dolls on magnetic paper. Even more excited when I found out the very next day that my miniswapper is a 4 1/2 year old girl! I’ve been working on drawing up these paper dolls in Illustrator since. Yes, I’m *very slow* in Illustrator. I’m so happy with how they turned out. I was afraid they’d print out all dull but they’re nice and bright. The only problem I’m having is some of them (here & here), the polarity is screwed up or something (yes, me and Diana) and they jump out of place and won’t align right. Anyone had this problem? Now I just need to finish up a little home for them. I was thinking something like this magnetic book of Oscar’s. I need to figure out if they make magnetic cardboard.

44 thoughts on “miniswap paper dolls

  1. Allison says:

    I don’t know anything about magnetic cardboard… but you could paint a piece of cardboard with Magnetic Paint. I’ve seen it in a regular paint can as well.
    I personally have never used it but it sounds interesting. In asking the “paint person” at a hardware store, they said it would be good for light weight pictures, like a kid’s drawing. I am contemplating painting a block in my son’s room for him to hang up his artwork.

  2. Blair says:

    I have used magnetic paint Hillary. We painted a partial wall in the kid’s playroom with it, then painted over than with black chalkboard paint. The more coats, the more magnetic as you would guess. We bought a pint online and I can’t tell you how HEAVY that can was! But, it works well with several coats, its the color of primer.
    Those paper dolls are so incredibly adorable. What a perfect thing for a little girl (or guy for that matter). Think of the possibilities. I’m loving the little red coat and hat!

  3. anjo says:

    WowwEEE! Your paperdolls are amazingly cute! This was a super idea for the swap. I was actually going to make some magnetic paperdolls for my swap partner, but just made a few small magnets instead (my scanner is not working…I am okay with freehand drawing, but not so much digitally. yikes)…now I am glad I didn’t even attempt it as I am drooling (excuse me) over yours.
    Lovely job!
    I was also going to say ‘magnetic paint’…&/or applying magnetic sheets to cardboard literally…the paint would be much easier, of course. I can’t wait to see what the end product you come up with.

  4. rebecca says:

    I wouldn’t personally recommend the magnetic paint from Michael’s craft stores — not sure what brand Blair used. When I tried it I found it had an extremely rough texture and was not even all that magnetic. I think there may be a new kind that Lowe’s now carries. I am blown away by the total cuteness of your “paper” dolls!!!!

  5. molly says:

    As the one who randomly drew the names for swap partners, I’m thinking I should have fudged the partner matching!!! (Kidding–and no offense to my lovely partner.) But those dolls are fantastic. What a WONDERFUL idea!! So glad to see that everyone had such great ideas for magnetic cardboard to go with them. Can’t wait to see the finished product!

  6. Alisa says:

    These are really cute. Really. Don’t you love drawing in illustrator?
    So, um, if you happened to sell a PDF version of these little paperdolls I’d buy it right away. Promise.

  7. brandie says:

    i think they are wonderful! we are all about the paper dolls here…and your 4 1/2 year old swap will adore them for sure!
    and can i just say that I laughed out loud over the polarity/diana comment…i sincerely hope you said it in voice 🙂

  8. Julia says:

    They’re great, Hillary!! You are so talented in so many different fields! I love how they look like your patchwork set dolls. They must’ve been soo fun to make. Just fabulous.

  9. Brynne says:

    Those are so incredibly cute! I’m also one who’d be all about buying your paper dolls if you decide to sell them. I used to fake sick to stay home and cut paper dolls out. My mom caught onto me, though.
    Mind you, I used to be a real-life magnetics researcher and I have no idea what Diana was talking about, unless she sewed the magnet in backwards. I think the fabric was just too thick. I’m a total Project Runway addict.

  10. rungirlrun says:

    You could use a small cookie sheet or large Altoid tin depending, of course, how big the dolls are. Then you could store the parts too.
    I used to do alot of cut paper art in college. You can eliminate white cut lines along the edge by running an appropriate colored marker along it’s edge. Or when you cut, cut at a slight angle so the white edge is underneath. A swivel knife is way fun for this.
    Hope I’m not being to much of a Ms. Bossypants.
    Love the dolls as always.

  11. valentina says:

    O-M-G. You’re killing me with these. I’m not into cuteness for cuteness’ sake, but these are killing me.
    I was thinking of that magnetic paint that Allison mentioned, too. You could paint some wood-board (I’m sure that’s not a word, but I mean thin wood) with it; it’d be more durable than cardboard. Or it would take the paint better.

  12. susan says:

    i am going crazy–these are soooo cute!! better than sell them, do a children’s book about them and then in the back have the paper dolls. like a crafty “english roses” with all the patchwork dolls? my daughter loves them and wants me to print them out immediately. i have just spent days tearing out all her princess paperdolls–several near misses but a little tape fixed that. I LOVE them, really.

  13. Jasmin says:

    What about sticking them onto those magnetic business card backs they sell at Staples? One side is sticky, the other a magnet. I used those when I made magnets for my wedding.

  14. Hanna says:

    yay, so cute! and thanks again for the cat pattern, now I’ve made one! and when I called my mother, she has made one too! for me! haha, strange world. will post pictures of her cat to once I get it, in your group.
    they do have magnet wall paint, probably will work just as well on cardboard, right? worth a try. good luck

  15. kelly says:

    sooo cute!
    I’m guessing the magnet sheet is one big magnet with the ‘north’ on the left and the ‘south’ on the right (or vice versa, or top and bottom, whatever.)
    If that’s the case then each of the magnets you cut out has the north on the left and the south on the right, and the magnet will jump so that it’s south is next to the other magnet’s north.
    Printing the doll upside-down (rotated 180°) from the outfits should make it work.
    If that doesn’t work I have a more complicated solution but it would probably waste more magnet sheets. If you’re interested, just email me, m134 at
    I just can’t imagine magnetic spray paint working well. Even if it did, what would keep it from having the same alignment problems as the normal paper?

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