When my daughters and I read Robert Beatty’s books, Serafina and the Black Cloak and Serafina and the Twisted Staff we were very captivated by the Serafina character. We enjoyed these books so much so that my oldest requested for me to create her a custom Serafina doll. With doll play all kinds of questions come up; what does Serafina wear to bed? …does Serafina ever get a bedroom? I don’t want to give away details of the books…because you really should read them…but the bed was of importance to my daughters… read the books and find out more. Sorry to leave you hanging. lol. Those who have already read these books will understand. What started out as a task to find what Serafina would wear to bed ended in an intriguing journey in our research of the Biltmore Estate, the setting for these books. Find out what we thought Serafina’s nightgown and bedroom would look like and how we recreated this doll sized scene.
Initially, my daughters only wanted to know what Serafina would wear to bed. So, straight off we contacted Mr. Beatty and were thrilled when we got a reply. What would Serafina sleep in? Mr. Beatty’s reply, “In the stories, she sleeps in whatever she has on a the time. But if she were to have a set of night clothes, it would likely be those of a house servant. A simple nightgown or shirt.” When I read Mr. Beatty’s response to my oldest daughter she immediately said, “Good point; Serafina is so adventurous that she is too exhausted to change OR her dress she wore that day is too destroyed to keep for another day.” BUT just what if she did need some night clothes. Hmmm. So we started our research of the Biltmore Estate’s early years. For more information on the Biltmore check out this beautiful video: https://youtu.be/W8wnt4Znkis
We decided to recycle American Girl Felicity’s shift and use it as Serafina’s nightgown. Very simple and plain.
We also decided to recycle American Girl Kirsten’s house coat for Serafina. The camera flash makes the check pattern brighter than what it seams. The check is actually a maroon color, not red.
When we were researching sleep attire of servants of the 1800s-1900s we also researched servant rooms of the Biltmore Estates. Research revealed that the real servant rooms at the Biltmore were comfortable and of good size. These rooms had iron beds, washstands with pitcher & bowl, chamber pot & slop bucket, chestnut dressers and wardrobes, and split-seat chairs. We were thrilled to find that a few of these rooms had walls in a robin’s egg blue color….which worked perfect since the room we wanted to make for Serafina already was in this color blue.
Here is our finished Serafina bedroom as inspired by the servant rooms of the Biltmore Estate. We already had a black wrought iron bed, which we originally used when we did a Parisian inspired room. This bed is beautifully made and can be found here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/dreamcometruebeds .
Now, for what I think makes Serafina’s room just perfect….this AMAZING hand crocheted bedspread! This doll sized bedspread is beautiful! This bedspread was a custom request and made by the very talented seamstress, Chris Saunders of Love U Bunches https://www.loveubunches.com/ . Chris is very well known for her fantastic doll clothing patterns for dolls such as American Girl, Kidz’n’Cats, Karito Kids, Journey Girls, A Girl for All Time, Wellie Wishers, Little Darling, and Maru and Friends. Chris is also very talented at knitting and crocheting. Chris was wonderful to work with. She jumped on board my idea for bedding inspired by a combination of the 1800s and Biltmore servant quarters. She was great at helping me research just the right style of bedspread; something simple for a servant yet still a bit girly. An off-white creamy color was chose as inspired by the real bedspreads from the Biltmore pictured above.
My daughters and I are thrilled with how intricate and beautiful this doll bedspread is! The scalloped eyelet trim is a perfect touch! This cotton bedspread was made with size 0 needles and took 40+ hours. THANK YOU Chris!!! More information for the pattern on the body of the bedspread can be found here: http://www.knittingstitchpatterns.com/2014/10/staggered-eyelets.html . More information for the pattern on the trim of the bedspread can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2zpBZo1Y6Q&list=PLLnHbt9RmPVeRot5Y01OPoHiuG-pU6q6z&index=12
I sewed a simple set of sheets from non-bleached muslin to go with the bedspread.
Serafina gets pretty dirty and beat up on her adventures…so we decided she needed something to help her get clean. The pitcher pictured above is actually from a creamer and sugar server set that I already had. Honestly, the set was too small for real use so I had it boxed up and put up in a cupboard. I used the creamer from this set as the pitcher. The bowl is actually a sauce bowl / soy sauce bowl. The dresser is a unfinished jewelry box found in the wood craft section of Michaels; it was stained to match the window frames.
Now keep an open mind…I recycled the sugar bowl…removed the lid…now it is a doll chamber pot. lol. My girls love the little details. The real life Biltmore pictures were a great inspiration and educational experience for my daughters. If you want to recreate this scene, you can find the creamer and sugar set here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01DL2PBA2/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
In keeping with the inspiration Biltmore pics we decided a blue rug was needed. I made this in about 10 minutes with a piece of standard felt and a few pieces of yarn. See directions below.
1. Pick your rug shape and cut from felt. I have used this technique to make dollhouse rugs in various shapes: circles, ovals, and rectangles.
2. Using a small tip scissor I punctured a hole large enough to get my hook in it.
3. I used a small crochet hook. You could use a small loom hook. I pushed the hook through the hole. (I had previously cut several pieces of yarn. Each piece has to be long enough for you to loop over your fingers. I would say most of my pieces were around 5 inches.) I attached a piece of yarn around the hook.
4. The yarn was pulled through to form a loop.
5. The open end of the yarn was slipped through the loop.
6. Then yarn ends were then pulled tight to close the loop. These steps were repeated until the row was completed. Then, with scissors I trimmed all edges of yarn to even lengths to complete the rug.
I purchased two unfinished wood frames from Michaels for $1 each with coupon. I stained the frames. In reality the stain would be much darker as in the Biltmore pics, but I wanted to keep the wood tones consistent with the rest of the dollhouse. I printed off actual pictures of views from the Biltmore and placed them in the frames. Frames were hung with command strips.
A black cloak and twisted staff were placed in the room for a little themed décor.
The bedside table is a mini wood crate stained to match the dresser and window frames.The doll sized oil lamp was used by recycling the casing from a vintage set of colonial Christmas tree lights. The Casing was simply placed over a battery operated tea light. This idea came from my friend Lisa W. Check out Lisa’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KirstenonthePrairie/
For our other Serafina posts see here:
We are impatiently waiting for Book 3 to come out, Serafina and the Splintered Heart !!!! We are also very excited to add the Biltmore on our Vacation to-do list!