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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)

Katie, Katie, you are amazing! Do you give sewing lessons? Or step by steps? Those dresses are just lovely. I wish I could wear them :)

April 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersarah

there's a really good reason you're not making dresses for all of us to buy and wear, right?

because i'm pretty sure you could bank.

April 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercaroline

unfortunatly I don´t know that book, but I am pretty sure it is adoreable - like most of the english childrensbooks. Adoreable like your dresses - I really really like the striped one - great sporty feeling!
But please tell me one thing: how do you manage to avoid the Hello Kitty-thing? My older girl turns 3 in a few weeks - and she owns a lot of nice sewn/knitted-by-her-mama-clothes, but most of the time it is as today: HKtights, HKskirt, HKshirt - otherwise she denies to dress anyway....
lovely regards from Europe!

April 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdolores

These are just too adorable!! I think someone mentioned above to sell the patterns to these dresses?!?!?! That would be amazing!

April 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

Happy Birthday Katie!!

April 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

PS- I think the dresses and the girls are gorgeous, and I feel like I gush over them so often than I am starting to feel silly :)

April 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

Okay, I just want to weigh in on all the "You shoulds"....I think you are an amazing designer, crafter, engineer and writer. That said, it's also okay to be so thrilled and content with yourself making things for your family and NOT writing a book or selling patterns or whatever the next big thing is! People are often telling me that I should start a business or sell some of my stuff and I ask them why? It seems like that might take the joy out of being crafty! Isn't it okay to be happy and content not making a million dollars (and losing your mind in the process) by crafting for other people? Maybe it's not about business or money or selling...maybe it's about passion and ideas and fun. I say bravo to you for doing what you love, in small batches, for those you love. Don't feel like you have to do anything more. Keep it up, and keep sharing your adventures!

April 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJillian

Those are awesome!

April 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLouise

Those dresses are adorable!

April 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAngie

I LOVE these dresses! I love the simple design, yet the color combination and slight change in pattern on each make them totally pop! There perfect, but I wouldn't expect anything less from you! Between these and your Easter ones they inspired me to make a new one for my daughter! It's hardly comparable but you were my inspiration nonetheless! I just put up a post on my blog today of the dress if you want to see it.

April 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStacey

everyone! seriously, thanks so much!

dolores- i should take a picture of ruthie in one of her regular outfits. she's a crazy dresser. lots of layers, lots of tutus, lots of pink and sparkles.. i think i'll be able to dress eve until she's 13 but ruthie is another story.. that being said, i am a bit strict when it comes to cartoon characters. the girls love disney princesses, but i refuse buy them clothes with any cartoon character's image. (there are some vintage exceptions to this rule) but i do buy them princess underwear. they feel fancy knowing they've got princesses on and i don't have to see them. nobody feels deprived, everyone is happy... so, that's how we do it. good luck!

April 30, 2009 | Registered Commenterkatie

WOW. Found you through Dana over at MADE, and am totally seeing my tomorrow get sucked away as I run off to make my own version of these clean, sweet dresses. Absolute genius--so modern, so timeless. Must go browse now to see what you do for BOYS...

Linked to you here:

April 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWhipstitch

Oh, and I meant to add: 30s are wayyyyyyy better than anything that came before. Welcome to the Funner Decade--and happy birthday!

April 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWhipstitch

Oh my heavens, I am in love!

April 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTania

Love, love, love the illustrations in that book! And, love, love, love those dresses! Simply marvelous!

May 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie O.

we love that book at our house too. never considered making clothes that reflect it though. that's why you are so awesome.

May 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterErin

darling, darling, darling...

May 1, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterlynne

Wow, that was one of my very favourite books when I was little. I haven't seen it for 25 years (or more...). Now I must go find it again. Thank you for bringing it all back to me. Loving the new dresses too. The colours are fabulous.

May 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBella

i JUST bought this book yesterday!! i received a gift certificate to a bookstore and, as a soon-to-be-teacher, wanted to use it for some of my favorite children's books. caps for sale is near and dear to me. these dresses are beautiful!

May 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertrupeach

BEAUTIFUL dresses!

May 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAndi

These dresses are darling.

May 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterArianna Barrans


May 8, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercoronita

Oh, I love Caps for Sale! And the colors and dresses are gorgeous!

May 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

I absolutely adore these dresses, and you have made me want to look for and purchase this fun book!

May 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKara

I LOVE your blog. You are a great seamstress..I'm salivating at all your creations. Seriously. Where do you find the patterns? I'm trying to sew clothes for my little girl but I'm soooo intimidated.

A few things..can you recommend a good sewing machine, mine major sucks. and...I love that you live in Brooklyn. I grew up in the Bronx (as a mormon..yeah it was weird) and later lived in Provo and Salt Lake..it's good to see a young Mormon family raising kids in a big city--we have friends in Manhattan doing it..but I can't imagine it at all and I grew up there.

May 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHaydee

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