Cute as a Button
CHAPTER 1 It’s Nifty to Be Thrifty
Designing and making clothes is definitely my favorite thing to do, but there’s one big catch—buying fabric starts to add up. It’s not just the fabric—it’s all the trimming, buttons, zippers, sequins—you name it! The only reason I’ve been able to make so many outfits
lately is because of the money I won in the Avalon Fabrics’ Break-Out Designer contest—and because both Jan at A Stitch in Time and my aunt Lulu are so great about giving me scrap material. But I’m going from riches to rags, even though I’ve been doing my best to shop on a budget. My allowance only goes so far, and I’m too young to babysit, so Dad said I can do odd jobs around the house to earn money, but there are only so many of those. Lately, he’s been paying me to dust the houseplants and sew buttons on his shirts! What’s an aspiring fashion designer bursting with ideas to do? I’ve been digging around at the thrift store again, trying to find clothes I can take apart for the fabric. But I loved this dress too much to take it apart. Instead I got creative and “Zoeyfied” it. I made some tweaks here and there and added a belt that used to be my mom’s. Cool, huh?
“Are you sure you don’t mind?” Lulu Price asked for the third time as she stood by the door to leave.
“Mind? We love having Draper here,” Zoey
Webber, Lulu’s niece, said, her arms wrapped around her doggie cousin’s neck.
Aunt Lulu’s fourteen-year-old mutt thumped his tail against the kitchen floor in agreement.
“See? Draper loves being here too,” Zoey said.
“I know he does,” Aunt Lulu said, smiling. “This is his absolute favorite hotel. And mine, because I know you and Marcus will give him lots of love while I’m away at the interior design conference.”
“Oh, you can count on that,” Zoey’s brother, Marcus, said. “Draper will get plenty of love—and treats.”
“Not too many treats,” Aunt Lulu warned. “He’s already overweight.”
“He is not,” Zoey said, covering the dog’s floppy ears with her hands so he wouldn’t hear. Then she uncovered his ears and scratched the silky hair under his chin. “You are the handsomest dog ever.”
Draper licked Zoey’s face, as if to agree that he was, indeed, the handsomest dog ever.
“I’ll see you in about a week,” Aunt Lulu said, blowing kisses as she walked out the door.
Draper trotted over to the entryway and let out a soft whine.
“Aw, he misses Aunt Lulu already,” Marcus said. “Give him a treat.”
Draper’s ears pricked up at the word “treat.” Zoey wanted to follow Aunt Lulu’s advice for at least a few minutes after she left, but Draper seemed so very sad standing by the door. Just one treat wouldn’t hurt.
“Come on, Draper, treat!” she said in a high-pitched voice, walking over to the tin of treats their aunt had left with Draper’s food and other supplies.
Draper moseyed over to Zoey expectantly.
“Sit,” Zoey said.
Draper stood, staring up at Zoey with his big brown eyes.
“Come on, Draper, sit!” she said again, waving the treat above his nose.
With a deep sigh and an If I really must look, Draper sank onto his rear haunches.
“Good boy, good sit,” Zoey crooned, giving him his treat.
“I wonder if Draper ever thinks, ‘Why do they
make me do this just to get a treat?’ ” Marcus said.
“I think he just cares about getting the treat!”
“You underestimate him,” Marcus said.
“No, I don’t. I just think he has his priorities straight. If I could get ice cream whenever someone said ‘sit,’ I would totally sit down on command! But now it’s time to sit and sew, right, Draper?” Zoey said.
Sure enough, Draper lumbered up the stairs behind Zoey and followed her into her room. After a brief, unsuccessful search for hidden treats, he settled himself under the cute vintage sewing machine table Zoey’s dad had bought her, so she could work in her bedroom. He’d painted the wrought iron pink to match her bedroom. Zoey loved it. Mr. Webber loved having some space on the dining room table for a change.
The week before, Zoey had seen a dress that she absolutely adored in her favorite fashion magazine, Très Chic. She wanted it so badly—until she saw the price, which was more than she could ever imagine spending on a dress. But it was so cute! That’s when she had the idea to make it herself.
With Draper’s nose resting on her foot, Zoey sketched out ideas for how to copy the dress. She went online to see if she could figure out what fabric the manufacturer used. For the price they were charging for the dress, she figured it had to have gold thread, but it didn’t. And that was a good thing, because unlike King Midas, everything Zoey touched didn’t turn to gold.
It was comforting to have Draper with her while she worked. He seemed to sense when she was getting frustrated, and he’d give her foot a gentle lick, as if to say, Don’t worry, Zoey. You’ll figure it out.
Zoey put down her pencil and ducked her head under the table to look at Draper. He lifted his nose and wagged his tail, thumping a steady beat against the carpet.
“You’re such a good boy, Draper,” Zoey said. And then she had a fabulous idea.
“You know what?” she told him. “I’m going to design you an outfit!”
She pushed aside the pattern sketches that were causing her so much frustration and pulled her sketchbook toward her, turning to a fresh page.
Soon after, she’d drawn the cutest outfit for Draper and looked online to see what shapes worked best for dog outfits. Now she just had to make it!
Zoey sifted through her box of fabric remnants till she found a piece she liked, and got to work. The biggest problem she had was the fitting. Draper was not the most cooperative model. When she needed him to stand, he wanted to lie down and nap. When she wanted him to sit, he wanted to stand. After almost two hours of being measured and manhandled, he was ready to go on strike. He sat his butt on the floor and refused to budge.
“Draper, if you do what I say, I’ll give you a treat and take you for walkies when we’re done,” Zoey told him.
Of course as soon as Draper heard the word “walkies,” he started whining and heading for the door. Walkies were what Marcus had called walks with Draper when he was a toddler, and the name stuck.
Zoey raced to the door and shut it.
“Not yet! In five minutes! I’m almost done,” she promised him.
Draper slumped down by the door, his head on his paws, sulking.
Zoey worked as quickly as she could to finish Draper’s outfit. As soon as she was done, she wrangled it onto her reluctant model.
“Draper, you’re getting two treats and an extra-long walk. It looks absolutely adogable on you!” she told him. Opening the door, she headed downstairs to the kitchen and the treat jar, with Draper close at her heels.
Mr. Webber was making himself a cup of coffee when Zoey and Draper bounded into the kitchen.
“Well, look at Draper! When did Lulu start dressing him in designer duds?”
“She didn’t,” Zoey said. “I made it for him. Just now.”
“Really?” her father asked. “That’s impressive, Zo. I thought Lulu bought it at the pet store.”
Zoey opened the treat tin. Draper barked, and his whole body seemed to wag with excitement, not just his tail.
“Here you go,” she said, giving him a treat. “That’s for being my model.”
Zoey clipped on Draper’s leash to his collar.
“I’m going to take Draper for a walk because he was so patient while I made his outfit,” Zoey said. “He might need to do his business—and he definitely needs to show off his new outfit.”
Mr. Webber smiled. “Why do I have a feeling this walk is more about the fashion than the ‘business’?” he asked, his eyes twinkling.
“Come on, Draper,” Zoey said. “Let’s go show off your new duds.”
Once they got outside, Draper seemed proud to show off his outfit. He had to sniff every mailbox post and wall they passed, so it was a very, very slow pace.
Zoey texted her friend Kate Mackey, who lived down the street, to see if she wanted to join them.
Yes! Be right there! Kate texted back.
Zoey and Draper walked down to the Mackeys’ house and waited outside for Kate.
While they were waiting, Mrs. Lynch came by with her golden Labradoodle, Rusty, who was wearing a dog-size Eastern State University baseball cap
and stopped to exchange sniffs with Draper.
“I love your dog’s outfit,” she said. “Where did you get it?”
“Thanks!” Zoey said. “Actually, I made it.”
“Really?” Mrs. Lynch said. “You’re very talented. It’s so much cuter than the outfits at the pet store.”
Just then Kate came out to join Zoey and Draper on their walk.
“Ooh, I love Draper’s outfit!” she said.
“I was just saying the same thing,” Mrs. Lynch said. “I’d love to get one just like it for Rusty. Do you make them to order?”
“Um . . . no. I never really thought about it,” Zoey said. “I just made it today!”
“You should, Zo!” Kate said. “I bet other people would buy outfits for their dogs.”
“If you go into business, Rusty and I will be your first customers,” Mrs. Lynch said, and then she and her dog continued down the street.
“Draper’s so cute.” Kate sighed. “Sometimes I wish we had a dog, but Mom says I’d have to be totally responsible for everything, if we got a pet. It seems like a lot of work.”
“It is,” Zoey admitted. “That’s why I love having Draper come to stay with us when Aunt Lulu travels. I get all the fun of having a dog but only a little bit of the work.”
“What about doing an outfit for Rusty?” Kate asked. “You could make extra money.”
“It’s funny you should say that,” Zoey said, “because I’ve been trying to think about my fabric fund. I’ve almost used up all my reward money from the Avalon contest.”
Draper started pulling on the leash, anxious to say hello to an approaching Shih Tzu. It was the most animated he had been all day.
“Hold on, Draper!” Zoey said.
The Shih Tzu’s owner smiled at Zoey and Kate. “Looks like puppy love,” she said.
“I don’t think anyone would call Draper a puppy, but there sure is a love connection!” added Zoey.
“I think Princess likes his outfit,” said the Shih Tzu’s owner. “She has very good taste. Where did you get it? The Pampered Pooch?”
“Actually, I didn’t buy it,” Zoey said. “I made it.”
“But she’s thinking about going into business,” Kate piped in.
“Wonderful! Well, I’m Mrs. Silverberg. Take my phone number. I’d love to buy one for my little precious,” said Princess’s mom, giving her card to Zoey.
“I will, promise,” Zoey said as she dragged Draper forward.
“See, you already have two customers!” Kate said.
By the time Zoey and Kate had walked Draper to the park and back, Zoey had ten potential customers. After she dropped Kate at her house, Zoey strolled home with a tired, panting Draper.
“You know, Draper, I think you might have inspired me to solve my money problems!” she told him as she took off his leash and got him a treat out of the tin.
Draper took the treat and flopped down on the kitchen floor, exhausted. Apparently, being Zoey’s inspiration was very tiring business!