Tag Archives: Val Zeitler

Lily Rose Savannah

The Romance of Lily Rose, BJD Fashion Designer (Part 2)

In the second part of our interview with Suzanne Wood-Thomas, Lily Rose, we discuss her favorite colors, why she creates OOAK BJD costumes, and her romantic bohemian spirit.

BJDmagazine: What are your favorite colors?

Suzanne: Undoubtedly my favorite color in the universe is pink. I’ve loved the color pink since I was a child. As far back as I can remember, pink made me feel so many wonderful feelings from comfort, happiness, elation and romance…. It is simply to me the most divine color in the world, from the palest shade of cherub pink, to the sweet and gentle shades of nature’s roses, to the most electric and shocking hot pinks. Recently, I was feeling overwhelmed with work and life in general, and I needed to feel a sense of happiness. I decided to make something that would make me feel happy whenever I looked at it. So I am crocheting an electric hot pink afghan/blanket for my bed. It brings me joy just working on it!

I also love antique colors; they have a story to tell. I love antique white or cream over white, because to me they have a sense of movement and feeling – aged as though lives have passed through them. I love dusty lavender and muted shades of moss green, and rich dark plums. Dark plums remind me of my grandparent’s home. A bedroom I stayed in as a child was wallpapered in a beautiful dark plum with huge antique white lilies. I always felt like a princess when I spent the night and slept in the magical room with the beautiful wallpaper. It comforted me and made me feel the love of my grandparents. I think there are reasons why we are drawn to one color or a number of colors as opposed to others – they hold a special place in our subconscious or deep within our heart that generates warm and beautiful memories and gives us a sense of calm.

Lily Rose Savannah

BJDmagazine: Do you sew unique costumes, or do you make limited editions? Please elaborate.

Suzanne: My costumes are strictly OOAK. I may make a number of silk velvet bloomers or jackets with my outfits, and although they may share the same color of silk velvet, the trims will always be different. I am also a knitter and crocheter, learning much from my mother as well as my grandmothers. I actually started out crocheting hats and knitting sweaters for ball-jointed dolls. My true longing was to design clothing, and although I could use the drape method for designing, I wanted to learn how to design as a professional. I like to alter patterns and embellishments for different styles. I get bored too easily and I like OOAK items, thinking I am special being the only one in the world with that particular item. I think it is a delightful way to design.

BJDmagazine: How would you describe your style?

Suzanne: I’m definitely a hopeless romantic, and believe in love-at-first sight. I would call my style romantic bohemian. I stray from it occasionally, but truly love the romantic or poetic style with a touch of gypsy thrown in at times.

Lily Rose Design

BJDmagazine: What attracts you to Dollstown sculpts?

Suzanne: It may have something to do with the fact that the first BJD I truly fell in love with was Dollstown’s Elysia sculpt. I feel that their sculpts are so lifelike. To me, it is asas if they can breathe, talk, and have feelings. They are almost as alive as much as a doll can be – at least in one’s own mind. There are many beautiful and amazing sculpts, and I own a couple from a few other companies, but Dollstown dolls truly speak to me and are timeless.

BJDmagazine: Who is Lily Rose? Is she your namesake?

Suzanne: Lily Rose is a name that appeared in my mind that I thought was beautiful and sounded like an old romantic name with soul. I named my first BJD, my Dollstown Elysia, “Lily Rose”. It seemed only natural to use the name Lily Rose for my design business. I am a huge fan of Johnny Depp and at the time I chose the name I didn’t know his daughter’s name was Lily Rose. A few people have thought it was the reason for having chosen the name, but my reason for choosing it was simply that I loved the name.


BJDmagazine: When you sew a garment, do you have a specific plan, and then choose the fabrics, or do you let the fabrics guide you? Can you elaborate? Do you use patterns?

Suzanne: I usually have a grand vision in my head and can’t wait to start pulling fabrics to create the design. I have an unbelievable number of fabrics and embellishments, although I never seem to have enough! I often stray quite far from my original vision. One of my favorite parts of designing for me is the initial flurry of thoughts and choosing scrumptuous fabrics and trims to make it come together. Sometimes a certain “to-die-for” piece of fabric calls to me, and I design an outfit around that fabric. I love gorgeous fabrics, trims and beading, and at times the embellishments cause me to stray from my original design. I never complete a design unless I love it and it feels right to me. I’ve used published patterns a few times after tweaking them, but soon found that it is not as creative or as much of a challenge, and I love a challenge. In the future it will strictly be my own designs and patterns I create. Although I don’t have any professional training in fashion design, I purchased a few books that have become my bibles. One in particular taught me the principles of patternmaking, which was just as difficult as I had envisioned it! I also have what I refer to as my bible of couture sewing techniques. I really enjoy sewing and embellishing garments by hand. I use the sewing machine when I can, but a lot of my work, and especially working with silk velvet, really calls for hand sewing. It is time-consuming, but have found that I love sewing by hand. It makes me feel connected to a past when a lot of work was done strictly by hand.


BJDmagazine: Where do you sell your outfits?

Suzanne: I sell my designs on a few of the doll boards, The Zone and Bitten. I also do it by word-of-mouth. I have just opened an Etsy shop called “Vintage Lily Rose” to sell my designs and heads with faceups.

BJDmagazine: What are your plans for this new year?

Suzanne: I plan on following my passion by devoting more time to creating new designs and expanding my horizons, perhaps doing more faceups, and offering my designs for sale at “Vintage Lily Rose”.


You can find Suzanne on:

Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/43187677@N08/

Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/VintageLilyRose

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The Romance of Lily Rose, BJD Fashion Designer (Part 1)

In the first installment of this interview, fashion designer Suzanne Wood-Thomas, Lily Rose, tells us about her marvelous creations for BJDs, her passion for vintage textiles, and her French inspirations.

BJDmagazine: When did you first discover BJDs? Which doll did you first fall in love with? What attracted you to BJDs?

Suzanne: I first discovered and fell in love with Asian ball-jointed dolls when I opened the August 2007 issue of Haute Doll magazine. There, starring back at me, was an article on Val Zeitler and her Asian ball-jointed dolls! It was funny because, first off, I felt a connection to Val as though I knew her from perhaps another lifetime, but that is another story in itself! There was a picture of Val holding a Dollstown Elysia doll she owned and I was entranced. They were the most amazing dolls with such intense character. At that moment, I knew that somehow I would own a doll like one of Val’s. It took me months to save enough money to buy one. I contacted Val via e-mail inquiring whether she could do a faceup on my doll, and lucky me, she agreed to it. I was in seventh heaven! I’m afraid I drove the poor woman nuts, but she created my lovely Lily Rose, and I’ve been a fool for BJDs ever since! I couldn’t see enough pictures or read enough about them. What was and is so intriguing about them is the fact that people can have the same sculpt and yet their dolls can look so completely different using wigs, eyes, styles of clothing and faceups. I love how many owners actually give their dolls personalities and create stories of the lives their BJDs live. It is all so wonderful!


BJDmagazine: Have you always designed clothing? Did you design for people?

Suzanne: I sewed some clothing for myself when I was growing up, but the garments never quite met my expectations, as my access to fabrics at that time was very limited. I remember going to a fabric store that sold mostly upholstery fabric, and I bought a really wild satin and metallic brocade fabric to make a pair of hip-hugger bell bottoms. I loved the fabric. It was really too heavy for pants, but I made them anyway and wore and loved them! I’ve always loved embellishing clothing. My favorite design is a pair of elaborately embroidered jeans I made in high school. I made a huge design of swirling paisleys using embroidery floss with a mirror image going up either side of my leg. They were fashion forward at the time, and the small upstate New York town I grew up in wasn’t really ready for them, but I didn’t care. My sister Trisha and I were devout Beatles fans and followed the “London fashion beat” religiously and were always trying to dress and style our hair in that fashion. Little did I know that my love for fashion would turn into designing clothing for ball-jointed dolls! I always design clothing that I would love to wear myself.


BJDmagazine: Your costumes have a Marie-Antoinette/French Bohemian feel to them. What are your costume inspirations?

Suzanne: My inspirations come from so many places and go back I think to my love of Janis Joplin, Stevie Nicks and my muse of today, Robin Brown of Magnolia Pearl. The first time I saw her work, I fell totally in love with her style and felt deep inside that she encompasses what I’m about. She loves silk velvets, antique fabrics and laces, and expressing her feminine and quirky side. She’s not afraid to be herself and isn’t that what we all struggle to be at some point in our life?

My paternal grandmother was also a seamstress and grew up in Paris, France as did my father. Shortly before my father passed away he told me my grandmother had a fashion house in Paris with her husband for a while before their marriage ended. It is sad that I never knew that when she was alive, as I would have loved to have talked with her about it – to share my love of fashion with her. Maybe it is in my blood, my love of fashion and for sumptuous fabrics and embellishments.


BJDmagazine: What are your favorite materials? Why? Do you use antique fabrics in your designs? Why?

Suzanne: I’m a fool for luxurious fabrics and how they look and especially how they feel. I’ve always loved the feel of silk and the unmistakable sheen it has. My favorite fabric in the world is a high-quality silk velvet. It has such an incredible feel and drape to it. If I were rich, I would have sheets made out of it and would cover my furniture in it. I feel pampered and loved just touching it. I try to surround myself with it as much I can. I recently made a silk velvet skirt for a vintage kidney-shaped vanity table my sister and I shared as children growing up. It is in a beautiful old-world shade of antique cherry pink. I have it in my studio as my sewing table with my sewing machine and antique vanity lamps on it. It has a mirror top which beautifully reflects light and makes me feel special whenever I’m sitting at it.

I’m also a great lover of antique and vintage laces and beaded fabrics. When I first started designing, I had a number of antique pieces of handmade tatted and crocheted laces that my maternal grandmother and aunt made. I wanted to use them rather than leaving them in a cherished box or drawer only to be seen on rare occasions. They were beautiful pieces of art and needed to be used and appreciated. It makes me happy to touch and work with pieces my grandmother or aunt made many years ago, or that were lovingly made by someone I never knew who spent many hours creating such a beautiful works of art. It was hard selling the first outfit I made using those pieces, but I knew my grandmother would be proud and happy it was being used as she was a milliner and a seamstress herself. I have one of my maternal grandmother’s outfits she wore as a young girl on a dress form in my studio that I couldn’t bear to see tucked away in a drawer. Perhaps she is encouraging me from above to be more creative and appreciate things from the past. It is an inspiration to me. I have an old sepia-toned photograph of my grandmother in my studio of her with other young women wearing their beautiful long dresses who formed a club called “The Ha Ha Club”. I don’t know if they discussed sewing, men, or who knows what, but my mom and uncle told me they would laugh a lot and thus the name. For a number of years after my dad passed away my mom and I would get together every Wednesday evening for dinner and laughs – our own version of The Ha Ha Club.

I have been collecting antique and vintage pieces of lace for years, some going back to when I was a teenager. I am always scouting for the perfect piece of lace or fabric. I never tire of looking at and feeling old textiles. And there is always the thrill of the hunt which is wonderful! I can’t look at anything now without thinking of what I could turn it into or create from it!

Lily Rose PEARL 222

Join us Thursday at 9 a.m. (Boston time) for the second part of our interview with Lily Rose!

You can find Suzanne on:

Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/43187677@N08/

Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/VintageLilyRose

Please help us by linking, tweeting, and sharing this article with your friends.
Fanciful Delights Roaring 20s

Roaring 20s with Fanciful Delight’s BJD Hat Creations

Jessica DeBuck of Fanciful Delights takes us back to the roaring 20s with her flapper hat creations!

BJDmagazine: Did you always design hats?

Jessica: The very first hats I made were for myself and gifts for friends almost twenty years ago. Then four years ago, I began collecting BJDs. I started designing my own hats for my ball jointed dolls right away.

BJDmagazine: What brought you to design hats for BJDs?

Jessica: Anything from the roaring twenties is my most favorite! I commissioned a couple 20s-style flapper outfits from Val Zeitler that really inspired me to create my very own hats. I wanted every ball-jointed doll I own to wear one as well, so they wouldn’t be left out of all that flapper fun. I wasn’t seeing a very large selection of hats from that particular decade. I decided to go ahead and try my hand to see what I could come up with. It just started turning into a hobby of mine. I took a few hats to my second Dollectible convention (now called GOGA in San Francisco) and they all sold out pretty fast. That’s what started my desire to make more.

BJDmagazine: What size BJDs to you design for?

Jessica: I design these hats to fit SD 9/10 and MSD 7/8 sized BJDs. They fit other dolls with approximately the same head size. I have a couple of porcelain dolls who wear them as well as any ball-jointed doll.

BJDmagazine: Your hats are clearly inspired by the flapper style. What attracts you to the 20s style?

Jessica: I’ve been attracted to the twenties ever since I can remember. I grew up fascinated by stories about my great grandmothers on both sides of the family who were flappers in their youth. My mother’s mother used to make fancy beaded hats. She was a wonderful artist. I even inherited a couple of her beaded flapper dance dresses, along with the original corsage and purse. I also have a nice collection of old silent films. I just admire the clothes and hat designs that were worn. The way the women put themselves together, did their makeup, bobbed their hair, and wore these cute hats close to their faces is simply adorable to me.

BJDmagazine: Do you look at a lot pictures of the 20s to get inspiration for your hats?

Jessica: I have many books about that era. My favorite is Flapper Era Fashions From the Roaring 20′s, by Tina Skinner and Lindy McCord. I also have a large collection of pictures I’ve saved from online searches.

BJDmagazine: What materials do you use?

Jessica: I like to use felt. It is the easiest material to work with. It’s sturdy yet soft and pliable. I find many different kinds of lace which I like to hand dye myself, especially Venetian lace. I also like to decorate with a variety of beaded motifs, decorative pearls, Austrian crystals, velvet leaves and hand dyed rosettes.

BJDmagazine: You have a great color sense. Tell us more about your color choices in your hats.

Jessica: I love to hand-dye my trimmings as often as possible. The trim colors determine the colors of the hat. Hand dyeing is fun and gives me the flexibility to create so many color combinations. I can dip one side in one color and the other side in something else, or simply brush lots of different colors wherever I please.

I start by looking at all the different trims I have. From there, I decide how to blend all the pieces together, and pick out the felt I want, to make a hat that’s pleasing to the eye.

BJDmagazine: Your arrangement of trims, laces, ribbons, flowers and beads is always balanced. Could you advise those of us who want to make hats on how to achieve this delicate balance?

Jessica: Balance is the key to making a hat look complete. I like to stare at the hat while I’m working on it and try different arrangements. Sometimes the hat needs a bigger motif. Other times I move a piece of trim to the side to make room for some beautiful rosettes I just dyed, and so on. My advice would be to make sure there is something interesting going on from every angle. So that any way you turn your doll’s head, you see a pretty hat. What makes my hats different is that I love to embellish them a little more than usual. I make them my own creation, as distinct as possible.

BJDmagazine: You design hats various shapes of flapper hats. What shape hat would you recommend to flatter the differently shaped BJD faces?

Jessica: I find that the cloche style hat is the easiest and that it  flatters such a multitude of face shapes. I think my favorite hat of all time is the one Clara Bow puts on after she gets off work to catch her  bus in the movie “It”… It’s a really sweet one, with cherries on the side. That particular cloche hat is one of the cutest and most flattering hats I have ever seen.

BJDmagazine: Do you wish women still wore hats? Do you personally wear hats?

Jessica: I do see ladies wearing some great hats, just not as much as many as they did back in the day. I like the fantasy of going back in time for a day to see what it must’ve been like. Having my dolls all wearing their twenties frocks and hats in the present is enough to satisfy my wish. I enjoy wearing cloche hats myself. I also wear wide-brimmed hats during the spring and summer to ward off the sun, or to cover up a not-so-great-hair day.

BJDmagazine: Can you describe your creative process? Do you plan a lot, or do you let the colors and materials guide you?

Jessica: I like to buy the prettiest trims and decorative accessories I can possibly find, and go from there. If I have enough gorgeous purple trims, for example, I’ll just go ahead and create a hat with that color theme. However, I don’t necessarily use just that one color over the entire hat. I use variations of the same color, plus I add different colors here and there. This approach produces some really beautiful and unique results when I’m finished.

BJDmagazine: Why do you choose to make each hat unique?

Jessica: It’s very important to remember that since our dolls are very special and unique to us, that we should make our dolls to stand out from the rest. You can use clothes and accessories to develop a character that is truly unique and outstanding! This is what makes this hobby so much fun. I love seeing someone with a doll wearing a handmade item and or an item they picked out just for that doll — an item that was made or chosen with love, not necessarily the original outfit manufactured for that doll.

BJDmagazine: What are the best style wigs to wear with a flapper hat?

Jessica: The best wigs to go with these hats are, of course, the famous bobbed hairstyle that Louise Brooks made famous. My favorite bobbed styled wigs are from Leekeworld. These are just perfect and really well made. Also I love the look of a doll with long ringlets wearing one of my hats. It reminds me of American’s Sweetheart, Mary Pickford, who embodied such innocence and beauty.

BJDmagazine: Do you work on commission?

Jessica: When I first started making hats, I used to do quite a lot of commissions and sometimes still do, depending on my schedule.

BJDmagazine: Are there other eras that inspire you? What other era would you like to inspire yourself from?

Jessica: I’m also very inspired by the 1910s, when plenty of my favorite silent film stars got their start. Actresses such as Mary Pickford, Lillian and Dorothy Gish and so many others. The dresses and hats from that decade are so incredibly elaborate and beautiful. I see my hats as actually a cross between the teens and the twenties, but with my own little twist.

BJDmagazine: What are you planning for 2011?

Jessica: I’m planning on tweaking my patterns a little bit, making more hats, and trying my hand at some flapper-style dresses. I’m perfecting my creative technique, and it feels like I’m almost there. These are all things I’ve wanted to do for quite some time. I think it will be quite fun and exciting to put my creations out there when I’m ready.

BJDmagazine: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Jessica: Making hats and clothes for your sweet dolls can be relaxing, easy, and a very rewarding experience. It can also be challenging and frustrating. Never let a few mess-ups stop you. Try again and again to get the results you desire. I remember when I first made a hat, it didn’t turn out as planned. But I kept at it and didn’t stop trying until I ended up happy with my creation.


This coming Saturday is Christmas Day, and Jessica has a special present for us! Shush…It’s a surprise! So check back Saturday morning (Boston Time).

You will find Jessica on:

Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/roweena23

She is Roweena23 on Den of Angels

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