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once there was a peddler

crammed on the shelves, piled on the table, clutched in little hands, tucked under pillows and covering our laps... books are everywhere in our little place; freshly read, forgotten about and waiting, or being scoured for inspiration. eve studies the animal books and grabs her pens, ruth finds the illustrations of her favorite dresses then runs to the closet, charlie listens to the clack of the wooden book's turning pages and dances. the picture book inspiration is not for the kids only; occasionally there is a book that i cannot stop looking at, cannot stop reading and cannot stop thinking about. 

caps for sale is such a book. each time i pull it out - and i pull it out a lot - i am struck. not by the simple story or the giggles the peddler and naughty monkeys elicit from the girls (although these are constant and wonderful), but i am struck by the handful of bold, lovely colors chosen to tell the story. i often feel this way about books from the 40s, but this book is an exception even among its fine peers. a perfect and simple combination of bright colors, with plenty of white thrown in the mix. 

after years of staring and admiring i decided to make a quilt based solely on the palette of this fun book. the perfect solids were found, but after several months the quilt has yet to form- in my head or otherwise. in its place plans for little, simple, clothes highlighting this palette gestated and are being brought into the world just in time for the warmth that has finally arrived. 

round one: dresses for the girls.



if we can tolerate not taking in every second of the spring glory going on outside, these dresses will soon be joined by play clothes in ms. slobodkina's inspiring palette. but, as ruthie says, "we have some business too. like the monkeys. but that business is outside. ya, playground business." 


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Reader Comments (75)

SERiously? Seriously.
totally cute. I love ALL YOUR STUFF.

April 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdana

I was admiring these beauties all day yesterday. And I vowed that my little girl has to have one of each. Please either go into business or teach me how. I love them.

April 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSusanna

Those dresses are amazing! I love how simple they are but with such sweet details. Caps for Sale is simply one of the best books ever. My daughter does a hilarious reenactment/one-girl show of the book that involves standing on top of furniture and yelling "Hey you, monkeys, you give me back my caps."

Sss, sss, sss, sss.

April 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnnie

my preshcooler daughter re-tells me that story and i just love it. the great thing about having kids go to school is that they bring home these long-forgotten books that i loved when i was a child.
as for your dresses - i love love LOVE how simple yet sophisticated they are! and cheery! i agree with the other comment - either start selling them or their patterns or teach us how to make them. please?

April 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterliko

That book is quite a treasure, it is lovely to see it through your eyes...your appreciation for the colors translated beautifully into the dresses.

April 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStacey

please please write a book! everything you make is absolutely beautiful...

April 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpamela

amazing!!!! you did it again.

this is my son's favorite book!!!! i actually bought the book because i loved the illustrations, not knowing how much he would come to adore those monkeys and those caps. coincidentally, it turned out that this book was one of my husband's favorites as a boy.

April 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjackie

I'm delurking to say these are GORGEOUS! I'm absolutely stunned by the color combination. So simple and so beautiful. I can't wait to see more from this color palette. I love it!

April 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterErin

love the dresses and color combos. you have such talent.

April 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpaula

Ah....I loved that book also. The older ones sure bring back memories.
I love the bright sweet dressed. So darling!

April 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertroutay

I LOVE that book. It's one of those few I can remember vividly from my childhood. And the dresses? Beautiful.. so fresh and springy and I think I'd like one in my size too.

April 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbrooke

gorgeous!!! I love the color combos. did you use cotton? you have inspired me to make a bag like the orange dress and a dress for myself. you sew beautifully.

April 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbarbara brown

Are you kidding? No patterns? Please don't do a sewing book-- they suck even the absolutely beautiful Melanie Falick ones. Just sell patterns like Olive + S, I swear, they are the only kind that work. The design of books is delicious but from a usable design perspective (I'm an industrial designer)- they are really lame. Unless you follow the Japanese format. Even then...patterns, patterns, old school patterns please!!

April 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterlauren monchik

gorgeous dresses
i love that book too.

April 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

wow nice job on those dresses and amazing way to act on inspiration!

I love the pale blue and red in the book, it's actually one of zane's faves. i noticed your background and title are in the same kind of light blue/ red combo. I was thinking of making my baby girl's room that color combo and now I am seeing it all over the place.

April 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterliz

I was just looking at that book the other day with one of my clients (who is 2) and thinking how much I loved the colors. I was thinking they'd be great for a kiddo's room, but they're beautiful on your lovely girls!

April 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLashley

You are very inspiring to me. I'm so glad I found your blog to draw upon all your great ideas. Thanks!

April 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChelise

Beautiful! I found your blog via Craftpad. Thanks for all your sharing,

April 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCathy T

Katie, you are a daily inspiration. I just ordered the book, and meanwhile, I hope you make some playclothes for Charlie, and post the pattern, so I can make some for my son.

Thank you for opening your home + life up to us with all this beauty.

April 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkate

I agree with a lot of the other commenters... this are "ridiculous" cutest dresses ever!!!!!. Seriously: are you planning on doing something with your talent... sell dresses .... patterns maybe????? Well until you decided :) at list I am happy that I found your blog and can look at your "WORK OF ART" .

I have a question: are the fabric for these are cotton... or linen .... or linen blend?Please let me know!!!! the colors are brilliant!!!!!
My best to you, Monica

April 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMonica

Go Tate!... love the dresses, your writing & your girls.

April 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermom

The clothes you create are STUNNING--please, please, please start a small pattern business (in all your free time :) So that I can try to create such simple, gorgeous little shifts for my little Ruby Larue (in all my free time--fellow mom of 3 here :)

April 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJenna Meyer

wow! i found your blog on the purl bee, and i must say, these are such inspiring images. i've got several projects ready and waiting for my little girl, and i can't wait to spare a few evenings to make the images in my head come out with fabric! you've inspired me to get started asap! thankyou :)

April 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterlesley

these are so lovey and so flippin' cool!

April 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteramy k.

Absolutely adorable. That's so cool: I had been obsessing about the color palette in Caps for Sale too (we read it here as well)...although I never thought to quilt it; I was thinking it would be great palette for a fabric line...

April 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRae

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