« tutorial: flower collar | Main | today is tuesday. »

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." 


References (23)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments (75)

I wish you were my mom!! I need all this in my size!! :) You must have the two best dressed girls in school!

May 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStacey

I love these dresses and your quilts are simply amazing! You have such a cute family. Looks like your husband and mine have some of the same job responsibilities- goofing off. Glad we're not the only ones having fun, huh?

You have to check out this flicker stream http://www.flickr.com/photos/mamephotos/3437289812/in/set-72157606567157676/

I saw it and thought of you.

May 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDee

my husband and i love the dresses! are the patterns available for purchase as we would both love to have one of each for our 2 year old.
thank you so much!

May 22, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkelly

WHat gorgeous dresses!
WHat gorgeous girls!!!
Do you have patterns? where can i find them? My daughter NEEDS them!

May 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterYael

i am loving your blog! your images are so sweet and creative and have a very happy mood about them!

May 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterelle moss

This was one of my favorite books growing up. Lovely little dreses!!

June 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDana Barbieri

I LOVE these dresses! Please teach us or sell them!

August 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterElyse

*Lurker Alert*

Yes, I'm one of those people who stops by your blog frequently but never leaves a comment or makes my presence known. :-)

I HEART those dresses!!! You have me inspired to make one in a Neopolitan ice cream color palette for my niece. The problem is I've been savagely scouring the Internet to find a pattern that roughly resembles yours, but they're either too flared/twirly, too a-line, or just altogether wrong. I would give pattern drafting a go, but I don't know where to start. And, I want to add that charming little button placket to the front but don't know how. Any suggestions?

August 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

Wow that's different, isn't it? Very catchy. Tweeted it.

December 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterABBEY

So, I'm with everyone else - when will you post a pattern/tutorial for these??!

March 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKylie

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

July 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterplus size dresses

WHat gorgeous dresses!
WHat gorgeous girls!!!
Do you have patterns? where can i find them? My daughter NEEDS them!

July 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersexy prom dresses

Hi, Katie. I just found your blog a few days ago and saw this post. I've been thinking of these dresses since, and really wonder if you could point me in the direction of a pattern or tutorial. My daughter is four and I'd be excited to put my amateur sewing skills to the test with this (especially the one with the triangular pleat in the front).

Your website is lovely, as is your family.
Sunshine from Honduras,

October 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

It's also cute if mother and daughter wear matching attires. They're like saying "the mini me". Like, she's the smaller version of the mother. Very cute.

November 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commentergirls dress

They simply suit the character of those little misses. I wonder if it has other colors.

April 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkids t-shirts

I am so impressed with your work! wow. I'm what I like to call an "irresponsible part-time seamstress" which means I sew whenever I have free time & am not tired out from caring for my own toddler plus being a caregiver for 2 others! The time & energy alone is admirable, & you are so creatively talented!! Bravo! go into business!

March 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

The image of your dresses is circulating Pinterest right now and I've been scouring to find the original link (which I'll repost). Here it is, and your blog is amazing. You writing and keen eye and love for your children is inspiring. Do you have a pattern for the a-line inverted pleat dress? I'd love to make one for my daughter's birthday in June. It's just perfect for a summer party and monkey business on the playground.

April 16, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersophia

I made a dress fot my daughter inspired by your dresses. Have a look on lafillegentille.blogspot.be
Thanks for the inspiration!

April 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterla fille gentille

I would love to know the pattern of the pleat dress please :)

May 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

I LOVE these vintage dresses. The girls look stunning!!!!

Hi, Sorry if I missed it, but is there someplace I can buy the patterns above?

October 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterA

Do you have a pattern for the incredible dress with the fold in the middle?
I would love to buy one and make the dress at home?

April 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterrhi

Can you share the patterns for these dresses? I am a beginner on this and I would love to make this for my granddaughter specially the first one.She is 2! i know how to crochet, Knit but sawing is new for me. These dresses are just gorgeous or is it that your daughters make them look like way? they are precious! :D


April 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMirelys Calise

wow, the yellow dress is so beautiful - would you share the name or source of the pattern? I would love to sew one. :)

May 19, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKaffiknopf

Hello, I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE the first little dress. The one with one pleat and two fabrics. Please tell me where you got that pattern. I would love to make a dress for my grand daughter. Thanks!! I'd appreciate it so much if you would share with me and email me the advice.

June 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCindy

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>