Zoey always tries to keep an open mind about clothes. Can she do the same for people, too? Includes “Sew Zoey” blog posts and fashion illustrations.
In the eleventh book in the Sew Zoey series, Zoey Webber thinks she’s helping when she gives advice to a boy who has a crush on her best friend Kate. Zoey tells him to wear a soccer jersey from Kate’s favorite team, assuming that Kate will like him better if he’s into sports. Kate finds out and feels betrayed that Zoey thinks she is so closed-minded. Meanwhile, Zoey helps her new friend Sean start a fashion club at school, promising to allow anyone to join. But when someone unexpected shows up to the first club meeting, Zoey struggles to stay true to her ideals and keep her focus on the clothes. Could Zoey be the one who is closed-minded, after all?
Hello, readers! Your friend Zoey is suffering from a big dose of reality at the moment. Everything seems so calm and almost boring after the flurry of planning Aunt Lulu’s surprise wedding (in only three weeks). Now that the wedding is over, it’s like I’d forgotten what normal life was like with just school, homework, friends, designing and sewing, my blog . . . Oh, yeah—I’m actually still pretty busy!
Anyway, I’ve always wanted to learn to knit, so I just started teaching myself with a book Aunt Lulu gave me, and I’ve already tried to make a few things, including the scarf in this sketch. My next project might be mittens with different-colored thumbs, but I’ve heard that gloves and mittens are very difficult! Do any of you knit? If so, please post your helpful tips in the comments! And stay tuned for the (hopefully cozy) results of my knitting projects . . .
Monday mornings were difficult for Zoey Webber. Not because she had a hard time waking up (although she did), and not because she disliked school (she liked it very much), but because her weekends were always so much fun. She spent time with her friends, made pancakes with her father and older brother, and spent hours and hours working on new sketches and designs for her Sew Zoey label.
So even though Zoey was pleased with her Monday morning outfit, which included a skirt made from the top of an old pair of her brother’s jeans that she’d stitched to a length of green floral fabric, she found herself sitting in home ec with her chin propped up on her hands, feeling like she was in a bit of a postweekend slump.
One of her best friends, Priti Holbrooke—whose recent penchant for dark, Goth clothes was at odds with her loud, sunny personality—breezed into the room. She complimented Zoey’s outfit before plopping down beside her and pulling out her phone to send a text message. Seconds later, Sean Waschikowski, a relatively new friend of Zoey’s, plopped down on her other side, even though his assigned seat was across the room.
The bell for class to begin was about to ring.
“Hi, Priti, hi, Sean,” Zoey said, her chin still in her hands. She couldn’t help wishing she’d been able to sleep in that morning. Even though it was only early fall, the cooler mornings made her want to stay in bed longer.
“You look glum, chum,” Sean said.
“I’m not!” Zoey protested. “Honestly. It’s just Monday mornings . . . You know. The weekend’s over.”
Priti nodded sympathetically, slipping her phone into her backpack. “I do know,” she said. “I’ve got to switch all my stuff over to my dad’s place tonight, because I spent the weekend at my mom’s. Ugh.”
“I know what you both need to cheer up,” Sean said, raising his eyebrows and wiggling them. “An inspiring new project!”
Zoey’s ears immediately perked up, and with them, her mood. “What do you have in mind?” she asked.
“C’mon, you remember,” he said playfully. “I sewed your junior bridesmaid’s dress for your aunt’s wedding, and you promised you’d owe me one, and then I said we should start a . . .”
“Fashion club!” Zoey finished for him. “That’s right; I remember.”
Sean drummed his fingers on Zoey’s desk. “You got it. My cousin Tessa has one at her high school. Her club is sponsored by their local fashion design college. Most design colleges don’t offer sponsorships to middle schools, but I thought we could start the club ourselves here at Mapleton Prep.”
“What a cool idea!” Priti responded. “But what is it? A club of fashionable people?”
Zoey shrugged. “I don’t know either! Sean, what exactly would the club do?”
Sean grinned. “Whatever we want! We’d make it an official club, like the chess club or the musical theater club. And then we’d have to find members, but they don’t have to be just designers—fashion clubs are for anyone with an interest in fashion. The people in my cousin’s club want to be interior designers, fashion merchandisers, set designers, costumer designers, graphic designers—you name it.”
“Then why is it called a fashion club?” Priti asked.
Sean shook his head. “I don’t know; I guess that’s just how it got started. Or maybe because most of the activities are focused on clothing.”
“I don’t know anything about starting a club,” Zoey said. “I’m not even in any clubs at school!”
“But I am—I’m in the musical theater club,” Sean replied. “And my cousin can fill us in on how her fashion club works to get us started.”
“Hmm.” Zoey still wasn’t sure. She doubted starting a new club was as easy as Sean was making it sound.
“Go on, Zoey,” urged Priti. “You know you’ll love it if you do it. You’ll have more people to talk with about your work! You know I never understand when you try to explain your projects to me.”
“That’s not true,” Zoey said. “And you’re learning to sew. You made Buttons’s ring-bearer pillow for Aunt Lulu’s wedding!”
Priti snorted. “And we all know how that turned out,” she said, referring to Zoey’s new uncle’s wedding band falling out of the pillow’s pocket and getting lost during the ceremony. Uncle John used Mr. Webber’s wedding band for the ceremony, and they didn’t find the original wedding band until after the honeymoon.
“But the pillow looked great,” Zoey said loyally. “And it’s not like Buttons understood she wasn’t supposed to move around very much! She did her doggie best.”
“Do the club,” Priti said, refusing to let Zoey change the subject.
“I’ll do most of the work, Zoey,” Sean pleaded as their home ec teacher, Mrs. Holmes, stood from her desk to begin class. “Please? I just need you for talent and ideas and fashion support!”
Zoey looked back and forth between her old friend and new one, both of whom seemed positive the fashion club and Zoey Webber were destined to be together.
“Oh, all right,” Zoey agreed with a grin. “Let’s do it, Sean. I do need something new to work on, and my knitting isn’t going as well as I’d hoped.”
“I can help with that,” Sean whispered as he stood up to head to his seat. “My grandmother taught me to knit. But don’t tell anyone—it’s hard enough for guys at this school to accept that I sew!”
Zoey agreed to meet Sean at school on Tuesday morning to start working on his idea. Sean had made an appointment for them to meet with the principal, Ms. Austen, before homeroom to find out if it was even possible for them to start a new club.
Zoey’s brother, Marcus, dropped her off early, so early that the school was eerily silent, and many of the classrooms didn’t have their lights on yet. She felt like she had to tiptoe and speak softly in the hallways. She was relieved when she caught up with Sean by his locker and was no longer by herself. Together, they walked to the principal’s office.
“You ready?” he asked Zoey. She nodded, not wanting to say out loud that she actually had a few butterflies in her stomach. Even though Zoey had a great relationship with Ms. Austen, who was an admirer of Zoey’s designs and blog, Ms. Austen was still the principal, and talking to the principal always felt like a big deal.
Sean knocked boldly on Ms. Austen’s door.
“Come in!” Ms. Austen said, opening it and ushering them toward the chairs facing her desk.
Sean and Zoey sat down, and Zoey watched as Ms. Austen opened her travel cup of coffee, stirred in a packet of sugar, and took a careful sip. “Mm,” she said. “I’ve never been a morning person. Coffee helps.”
“Now,” she continued. “I’m assuming two of my most ambitious students are here early on a Tuesday morning for a very good reason. How can I help you?”
Sean cleared his throat. “Well, Zoey and I would like to start a fashion club. We want it to be an official club, with a regular meeting day, and field trips and everything, and its focus would be on encouraging students with an interest in all types of design, from clothing to interior to graphic.”
Zoey and Sean had talked on the phone the night before, and he’d rehearsed what he was going to say. Zoey thought it sounded great.
Evidently, Ms. Austen did too, because she sat back in her chair, nodding and looking quite pleased. Zoey noticed Ms. Austen was wearing a beautiful vintage Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress and bright blue t-strapped heels that day. If anyone would be sympathetic to their cause, it would be her.
“What a great idea!” Ms. Austen said. “I love to give my students opportunities to explore their passions, especially ones that aren’t necessarily addressed in our standard curriculum, although home ec is a start. However, there are a few things we need to consider.”
Zoey bit her lip. That sounded serious. “Like what?”
Ms. Austen rocked back and forth in her chair, tenting her fingertips. “The school year is well underway, so the school’s budget for clubs has already been divided among the existing clubs.”
Sean nodded. “Right, okay.”
Zoey hadn’t even thought about the club needing a budget. But she supposed that field trips and materials and whatever else they might need would cost money.
“So you’ll have to charge dues to your members,” Ms. Austen explained. “And you’ll need to choose a president for the club, advertise to get members, decide what your dues will be and collect them, choose a meeting day, and so on.”
Zoey had her sketchbook with her, as always, and whipped it out to jot down notes.
“And lastly,” said Ms. Austen, “you’ll need to come up with a plan for meeting activities and find a teacher who will be willing to act as your club’s leader and supervisor.”
To Zoey, the list was already starting to sound like a bit more than she’d anticipated. But Sean was leaning forward in his seat, a huge smile on his face.
“That’s it? Great!” he said. “So you’re fine with us getting started right away?”
Ms. Austen nodded. “Absolutely. I’d be very proud for our middle school to be the first in the area to have a fashion club!”
Zoey and Sean exchanged a look. She couldn’t help feeling bolstered by the principal’s enthusiasm. It would be neat to do something totally unique at Mapleton Prep. After all, it wasn’t the first time Zoey had done something most twelve-year-olds hadn’t, including being a judge on the TV show Fashion Showdown, making a wedding dress, and having a famous Hollywood starlet wear one of her designs. Starting a club would seem like a piece of cake compared to those things.
A bell rang, signaling that students had three minutes to make it to homeroom. Zoey and Sean gathered up their books to leave.
“Keep me posted,” Ms. Austen said. “And thank you for setting such a good example for your fellow students.”
Sean and Zoey left the office, moving swiftly in the direction of their homerooms.
“That went great!” Sean said. “This’ll be easy.”
“Easy?” Zoey repeated. “Ha! We have a lot to do. But I was thinking maybe Mrs. Holmes from home ec might be willing to be our club leader. I can ask her later if you want.”
Sean nodded. “I knew I could count on you, Webber!”
Zoey laughed. “We’re a good team, Waschi—um . . .”
“Waschikowski. It’s a bit of a mouthful, I know,” Sean said, shrugging. “But we really are a good team. Fashion club, here we come!”
Chloe Taylor learned to sew when she was a little girl. She loved watching her Grandmother Louise turn a scrap of blue fabric into a simple-but-fabulous dress, nightgown, or even a bathing suit in an instant. It was magical! Now that she’s grown up, she still loves fashion: It’s like art that you can wear. Chloe has written more than thirty books for children and lives, writes, and window shops in New York City.
Nancy Zhang is an illustrator and an art and fashion lover with a passion for all beautiful things. She has published her work in the art books L’Oiseau Rouge and Street Impressions and in various fashion magazines and on websites. Visit her at Nancy-Zhang.com. She lives in Berlin, Germany.
"An aspiring fashion designer is the affable heroine of this first book in the Sew Zoey series. . . . In a smoothly written story of overcoming challenges with ingenuity and style, Taylor shows a knack for characterization and dialogue, and her detailed descriptions of Zoey’s designs will entice young fashionistas."
– Publishers Weekly
"Most novels about fashion end up being more about little divas than about the clothing; this is an exception. This story celebrates the rewards of personal creativity and risks of self-expression. . . . This book will appeal to a middle-grade crowd that isn’t into vampires and dystopias, as well as to those who create art with their hands."
– Kirkus Reviews
"Zoey Webber is a funky fashionista stuck in a gray-polyester-uniform world. The first book in a delightful new series, this will appeal to any girl finding her own style. Zoey is a bubbly and vivacious character who doesn’t let insecurities take command."
"The characters are enjoyable and well developed, and the plot is humorous and entertaining. The black-and-white drawings that open each chapter add a bit of fashion flair. With a touching ending that will leave readers with a warm, fuzzy feeling, this novel will appeal to young fashionistas."