840 Dresses and Counting

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

840 Dresses and Counting

September 6, 2014

It’s hard work to make a piece of clothing. Think about it: you need to cut the cloth to be the right shape for that shirt or pants or sweater, and in the right length and width for the person, and then you need to sew it together in nice smooth lines with none of the raggedy edges sticking out. It’s a complicated business, even with a sewing machine. But a very kind 99-year-old lady in Iowa does this daily. Every day Lillian Weber sews one dress and gives it to a little girl in Africa. She has made 840 dresses so far for her Little Dresses for Africa, and hopes to make 1,000 by the time she turns 100 on May 6. For those of us who hope to live to 100, we can only hope to be just as awesome as Lillian.

Wee ones: If a dress needs 1 piece of cloth for the back, 1 for the front, and 2 more for pockets, how many pieces does Lillian cut for each dress?

Little kids: How old was Lillian 1 year ago?  Bonus: If Lillian can finish a dress in just 2 hours, how much does she sew in 1 week?

Big kids: If it takes Lillian 4 hours to make each daily dress, how many hours did she sew in August?  Bonus: If Lillian has made 840 dresses by today, Sept. 6, and keeps up at 1 dress per day, will she reach her goal of 1,000 by this coming May 6?




Wee ones: 4 pieces.

Little kids: 98 years old.  Bonus: 14 hours.

Big kids: 124 hours, since August has 31 days.  Bonus: Yes. She needs to make 160 more, and with about 30 days in each month, it will take her only a little over 5 months to reach 1,000 (February 13, 2015, to be exact: 30 days to reach Oct. 6, then another 31+30+31+31 to get to Feb. 6, which makes 153, plus 7 more to reach 160).

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the Author

Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.

More posts from this author