By the Numbers

by Erin on April 7, 2008

Remember those nursery curtains I bought at Target? They turned into this:

DwellBaby Target fabric dress

It's Butterick 2626, the same dress as the one in this post. It's not ironed — this is how it looks after being hung up wet from the dryer.

I didn't realize until I took the picture how … prominent … the numbers are on the bodice. In my mind, it's an alphabet dress, not a numbers dress, but I don't mind. (And since I'm going to be wearing this mostly for work, I hope I earworm everyone I meet with Dolly Parton's "9 to 5".)

It took me forever to figure out what buttons to use, until I remembered I bought fifteen packets of covered-button forms at the last Hancock's notions sale:
DwellBaby Target fabric dress

The covered buttons were EASY. There's a template on the back of the package and then all you have to do is get the fabric wet and put it in the mold. It took less time to make the buttons than it did to sew them on. (Just remember to check the orientation of the shanks if your buttons have a definite up-and-down … a couple of mine are sewn on an angle for that reason!)

If I had it to do over again, I would, and with a glad heart, but this time I'd unpick the curtain hems BEFORE washing them; the sizing made the fabric stiff and in my haste I ripped one of the hems along the seamline, which made cutting-out a bit awkward. (If you have rips or stains in your fabric, you can mark them the way I do, with blue painter's tape — it's stiff enough so that you can feel it from the wrong side but it comes off easily without leaving any sticky stuff behind.)

The obligatory "Let me show you where I screwed up" part is here:

DwellBaby Target fabric dress

The skirt has an interesting slashed/darted opening on the left for the zipper, and the right-hand side is supposed to have just a plain dart. Which I forgot to make. Which means the back skirt is not centered on the back bodice. To which I say: big whoop; I gave up being worried if people were staring at my ass a decade ago.

Here's the full back view:

DwellBaby Target fabric dress

Despite that annoyance and assorted others (if you remember, this is the dress where I turned front and back bodice gathers into darts, plus I had to let out the waist an inch, which is irritating on a skirt with side-seam pleats) I will probably make this pattern at least once more. It's so comfortable!

If you're playing "spot the pockets", they're set in the front skirt seam, between the third and fourth outermost pleats. Very convenient!

{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

the_lazymilliner April 7, 2008 at 8:22 am

Really cute, Erin. Will you be wearing this with one of your many sewn slips?

Reply

Misanthropy Today April 7, 2008 at 8:45 am

fix your site Erin. Put DressADay where it belongs, without this odd /dressaday.html silliness. I can show you how to do it if you want.

Reply

Erin April 7, 2008 at 8:59 am

I know how to do it; it’s just that it’s linked all over the web at the /dressaday.html address … and by lots of folks who wouldn’t bother to update/change. I’m happy with the way it is, but thanks for the offer.

Reply

Chappell April 7, 2008 at 9:06 am

first off, those buttons are adorable.Did you thin out the skirt a bit? The a-line doesn’t look as extreme as it does in the picture. The fabric worked out so well!

Reply

Toby Wollin April 7, 2008 at 9:11 am

why is it that your dresses remind me of Miss Frizzle in the kid’s books?

Reply

Jen ~ MOMSPatterns April 7, 2008 at 9:21 am

I LOVE the buttons you used! They couldn’t *be* any more perfect!

Reply

cpeep April 7, 2008 at 9:29 am

You totally crack me up. Can you somehow work the word “to” in there between 9 and 5? Maybe THAT’S what needs to go on one of the bodice buttons.CarolExtreme Cards and Papercrafting

Reply

DivaJean April 7, 2008 at 9:30 am

I especially loved the buttons. And I wouldn’t worry about the small goof in the back- I have seen far worse offered up for sale in middle and even high end stores!

Reply

Cathy April 7, 2008 at 9:37 am

I noticed the buttons first thing, and they made me smile! “e” for Erin.

Reply

lorrwill April 7, 2008 at 9:39 am

I was happily admiring your numb3rs dress until you had to say Dolly Parton…….the music!!!!!!!!! make it stop!!!!make it stop!!!!!!!!!!

Reply

tea April 7, 2008 at 9:44 am

It worked. I’m totally singing 9 to 5 now. :)But I did notice the “e” buttons first. I gasped and said, “brilliant” to myself. The e’s eclipsed the 9 & 5 at first. But when I looked again, I swooned at the perfection of it being a work dress.

Reply

Latter-Day Flapper April 7, 2008 at 9:52 am

This Saturday’s episode of “George Shrinks” on PBS featured Perdita Shrinks in a black-on-white clock-themed dress. Big skirt with black numbers on it, and a clock hat. I think it’s the “If It Ain’t Broke” episode. Anyway, I thought of you and your numbers/letters dresses.Please don’t ask why I was watching “George Shrinks”, though.

Reply

andreahg April 7, 2008 at 9:56 am

How cute!!!! I love covered buttons. You get to make sure you have the perfect buttons every time!

Reply

xstpenguin April 7, 2008 at 9:58 am

Earworm! (although I prefer the Alison Krauss version, it’s got a Delta vibe.)E is for ErinE is for ExcellentE is for… envious!

Reply

Anonymous April 7, 2008 at 10:15 am

Oh it’s gorgeous! Congratulations. I love me some covered buttons. I do them all the time. Sometimes I wonder why I have this ginormous button stash when I use covered buttons so often.–Lydia

Reply

Nora April 7, 2008 at 10:20 am

LOVE the buttons (perhaps you should add “covered buttons” to your tags?)…they caught my eye right away. Lowercase “e”s are so lovely, they always look to me like they’re smiling.And I’m not mad about the Dolly Parton earworm at all – love her!

Reply

What-I-Found April 7, 2008 at 10:23 am

Just have to share this…Dolly has named her breasts, Shock and Awe!

Reply

wundermary April 7, 2008 at 10:27 am

I’m with you, covered buttons are the best and these are awsome! I also noticed them before I noticed the ginormous 9 and 5. There’s no reason to sweat the off-center back seam unless it pulls funny. Only another sewer would be likely to pick it out and they’d probably be sympathetic, anyway.

Reply

Theresa April 7, 2008 at 10:31 am

Love it! The E buttons are a dorable and it is so funny how 9 and 5 ended up so big on a work dress. I have the ear worm by the way –thanks.

Reply

RachelMM April 7, 2008 at 11:38 am

Okay….that dress is so awesome! I love that you used old curtains! -R

Reply

Pratishtha Durga April 7, 2008 at 11:46 am

The dress is quirky, alright. And I love it that it’s a work-dress. Your blog posts always make me smile. It’s the way your words flow.

Reply

samsara April 7, 2008 at 11:50 am

How could I resist a cheeky work dress and a Dolly Parton reference?Major kudos and hurrahs to you, Erin, for those covered E buttons. Oh, the covered buttons are making me plotz, and kvell.

Reply

oliviacw April 7, 2008 at 11:55 am

love the “e” buttons – they caught my eye first, too.

Reply

Julie The Vintage Goddess April 7, 2008 at 12:06 pm

Totally cute.I love that fabric.

Reply

Anonymous April 7, 2008 at 12:07 pm

This dress set a happy tone for my entire day! I love Dress a Day. Three cheers for Erin!!!

Reply

Doris April 7, 2008 at 12:23 pm

Too cute, and Erin, I LOVE the “e” buttons. Perfect.

Reply

Keith April 7, 2008 at 1:10 pm

Erin, I watched the talk you gave on TED. I think this is a wonderful blog, and though I neither saw, nor wear dresses, I can see what one lexicographer does with her time.

Reply

Alexandra April 7, 2008 at 2:18 pm

Great dress! Love the buttons!

Reply

Amy April 7, 2008 at 2:38 pm

I’m not sure how I feel about the fabric, but the colours are great and I love the dress design. Love it!

Reply

Deb Newtn April 7, 2008 at 2:59 pm

I LOVE the dress- the freshness of the fabric meets the vintage of the pattern. And the buttons E for Erin are fabulous. Bravo!

Reply

Anonymous April 7, 2008 at 3:00 pm

So you now have a new dress to wear to your next crossword tournament!

Reply

Chiara April 7, 2008 at 4:09 pm

I think the buttons are absolutely brilliant. Excellent idea.

Reply

Adrienne April 7, 2008 at 4:53 pm

LOVE this dress! I will definitely show it to my husband (who always scoffs at my Ikea sheet shirt- http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v237/violeta77/sewing/ikeashirt.jpg)Great work!

Reply

Adrienne April 7, 2008 at 4:55 pm

My web address was clipped! http://tinyurl.com/5u4zgn

Reply

Cel Petro April 7, 2008 at 5:23 pm

Fun fun fun and…Scarlett O’Hara would be proud of you too!

Reply

VeganD April 7, 2008 at 5:24 pm

Fantastic! The letter “e” buttons are so clever!

Reply

lorrwill April 7, 2008 at 8:41 pm

ok I confess. I am a tad bit jealous of your ease with the covered buttons.It took me five freaking tries to get just one for the skirt I am working on.and does the earworm music ever stop?

Reply

lorrwill April 7, 2008 at 8:43 pm

oh yeah!I keep forgetting to compliment you on the hilarious text you put with the pictures!butt camouflage – LOL!

Reply

Anonymous April 7, 2008 at 10:18 pm

RE: Miss Frizzle’s wardrobe in the Magic School bus books and TV shows:Everytime I see one of these books, I am consumed with envy and lust for Miss Fizzle’s wardrobe. I desperately want an entire wardrobe of brightly colored clothing covered with images of reptiles or insects or monkeys or space vehicles or volcanoes or microscopes or bacteria or, or, or…. well, you get the picture(s).CMCps: My sedate software development engineer co-workers would just freak. All the more reason to start sewing.

Reply

AlasMyDear April 7, 2008 at 11:30 pm

the buttons are enormously perfect! and who cares about the back. i didn’t notice it til you said so. and then i had to really LOOK to find the mistake.or maybe it just shows i’m blind!

Reply

kostia April 8, 2008 at 12:51 am

Love love love the buttons. I don’t even sew, except in my imagination, but I’ve seen those button-cover forms at JoAnn and I might make a couple “e” buttons just for the hell of it.-*e*laine

Reply

superficialdiva April 8, 2008 at 6:05 am

The dress is beautiful and the buttons fit perfect.You did a good job with the curtains.

Reply

Anonymous April 8, 2008 at 6:56 am

Oh my! I love this dress!My (mostly) lovely husband has just peeped over my shoulder and asked why you made a dress that said Sex across the chest?!? “It’s a 5!” I screeched, “A FIVE!”.Sorry :-SAnna

Reply

Jean April 8, 2008 at 11:22 am

Hi Erin, your dress is great! You said that you had to let it out an inch… next time if you don’t alter the pattern… you might just either give up one pleat per side or make all the pleats smaller to gain your inch for the waist… that way you still get to keep your dearly loved pockets! Jean

Reply

Kristi April 8, 2008 at 6:38 pm

The buttons are very clever. It’s such a cute dress/

Reply

Ann April 9, 2008 at 8:02 am

Love the dress, the buttons and the pocket placement.

Reply

Linda April 10, 2008 at 4:22 am

I really appreciate people like you who can see an item,curtain, and visualize and make it into something else. I hope that someone like myself who is what I call a “concrete” thinker sometimes can acquire this ability if they work at it. The dress is certainly appropriate for who you are. Love the covered button idea, perfect.

Reply

miznyc April 10, 2008 at 11:36 pm

this is so cute!

Reply

amandajean April 14, 2008 at 4:28 pm

that. dress. is. awesome.

Reply

melissa April 17, 2008 at 6:07 am

I love the dress. Brilliant use of some Target curtains!

Reply

Gina April 18, 2008 at 11:13 am

When I saw you in that dress at the ACES conference, I thought, “Where did she find that awesome dress?” Now I know. Nice work!

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: