Sewing in Circles

Book #13 of Sew Zoey
Illustrated by Nancy Zhang

About The Book

Zoey is so excited to sell her designs at the outdoor market! But will she compromise her vision for her crush? Includes “Sew Zoey” blog posts and fashion illustrations.

In the thirteenth book in the Sew Zoey series, Zoey Webber is getting gifty…by selling her designs at an outdoor market! Things get complicated when her new crush asks if he can display his paintings in her booth. Her friends Kate, Priti, and Libby think she’ll be making a huge mistake if she doesn’t jump at the chance to spend time with him, but is it worth changing her vision? Then her fashion idol, Daphne Shaw, offers to feature a Sew Zoey piece in her pop-up show. It sounds great, until Daphne doesn’t like Zoey’s samples. Zoey spins her wheels, realizing that she has only ever sold her clothes online, and has never had to see a shopper’s negative reaction. What if the booth bombs? When Zoey’s confidence in her designs is shattered, can she break the cycle?

Excerpt

Sewing in Circles

CHAPTER 1
Hearts for a Sweetheart

Exciting news! There’s going to be a new member of the family—a baby cousin. Aunt Lulu and Uncle John don’t know yet if it’s going to be a boy—or a girl. Or if they do, they’re not telling—so I designed a unisex onesie that will work either way. Baby clothes are so cute, don’t you think? It’s hard to believe that right this minute, inside Aunt Lulu’s bump, there’s a tiny little person growing who is going to be wearing them someday. It’s hard to believe Marcus and I were once newborns, but Dad’s got the pictures to prove it. We spent a fun, but bittersweet, night looking at our baby albums.

Marcus is so lucky because he actually remembers things about Mom. Me, I only know her through what other people have told me. The one thing pretty much everyone’s told me is that I’ve inherited her creativity for making clothes. What’s the sewing equivalent of a “chip off the old block”?



“Hey, Zoey, do you think these buttons would look cute as decorations for a little cross-body purse?”

Zoey Webber and Allie Lovallo—a fellow fashion blogger who until recently had dated Zoey’s older brother, Marcus—were browsing at their favorite store, A Stitch in Time. Even though they’d been friends before Allie and Marcus had started dating, the fact that Allie was seeing someone else and had hurt Marcus so much caused a rift in their friendship, one that Allie was trying to mend by regularly inviting Zoey to hang out.

“Those are cute, but maybe a little big?” Zoey said. “I’d be afraid they might catch on a door handle and break or something. What about these instead?”

She pointed to some iridescent purple and blue glass buttons.

“Good point,” Allie said. “And those are fab.”

She took a few sets and put them in her shopping basket.

Zoey found small heart-shaped buttons she was thinking of using for the baby outfit she was making for her cousin-to-be.

“Those are adorable!” Allie exclaimed. “You’re going to have so much fun making things for your new cousin.”

“I know,” Zoey said, grabbing plastic snaps and zippers. “I went to Peek-a-Boo to get some ideas, and everything there was just soooooo cute and teensy, like little doll’s clothes.”

The two girls went to the cash register to pay Jan, the owner of A Stitch in Time, for their fashion finds.

“I like your choices,” Jan said. “And of course, my favorite young designers get the special up-and-comer discount.”

“Thanks, Jan!” Zoey said. Jan’s discounts really helped her get more for her money.

“Thanks, Jan,” Allie echoed. “Hey, Zoey, can I buy you a hot chocolate with the money I just saved?”

“Sounds yummy!” Zoey said. “But, Allie, you don’t have to do that . . . .”

Allie paused. “I want to.”

“Whatever you do, enjoy!” Jan called after them as they waved good-bye. “And get extra whipped cream.”



At the nearby coffee shop, Allie and Zoey settled into two plush chairs near the front window with their mugs of hot chocolate. The girls chatted about fashions they’d seen in the latest issue of Très Chic, which they’d both received in the mail the previous day.

During a lull in the conversation, Allie picked at a loose thread on the chair’s upholstery.

“So . . . have you ever thought about getting a booth at the Mapleton gift fair?” she asked as Zoey took a cautious sip from her still-steaming mug. “I did it last year, and it was really fun.” Allie blew on her hot chocolate to cool it. “I also sold a lot of stuff. Maybe you should apply for a booth this year!”

Zoey considered the idea. It wasn’t something she’d ever thought of doing, but now that Allie mentioned it, she could see the possibilities.

“It would be kind of cool to sell directly to people for a change,” she said. Zoey had only ever sold her clothing online and to friends and neighbors—never in an actual store.

“It’s also a great way to get customer feedback,” Allie said. “Even when people don’t buy things, you get to see which items they pick up and look at the most.”

Zoey placed her hot chocolate on the table as she got to the question that was really worrying her about the idea. “Is it expensive to rent a booth?” she asked.

“You can pick a booth size that fits your budget when you fill out the application,” Allie replied. She went on to explain that the organizers of the gift fair asked applicants to send pictures of their work, and they tried not to accept too many vendors with the same kind of merchandise. It was a carefully curated gift fair.

“Do you think I’d have a chance with a Sew Zoey booth?” Zoey asked.

“Yes! You should apply!” Allie said. “It would be fun to do the fair together.”

“I’ll definitely think about it,” Zoey said.

“Great,” Allie said. She looked down at her phone and smiled. Something about the look on her face made Zoey think it was about Oliver, the boy Allie had started seeing when she’d broken up with Marcus.

“Are you still seeing that guy?” Zoey asked.

Allie blushed and put away her phone. “Yes, we’re still going out.”

Zoey decided to change the subject back to the safer topic of clothes. They spent the rest of the time talking about their current design projects. Zoey enjoyed being able to talk to someone who understood fashion the way Allie did—so much that she was able to relax and almost forget that Allie had ever dated her brother and hurt his feelings by breaking up with him. Well, at least until Allie pulled into the driveway to drop her back home.

“So . . . how’s Marcus doing these days?” Allie asked.

There was an awkward silence as Zoey tried to figure out what she should or shouldn’t say. She wished they could agree to not discuss her brother if they were going to stay friends.

“He’s okay,” Zoey said finally. “You know, he’s . . . moving on.”

“That’s good to hear,” Allie said.

Zoey really didn’t want to talk about her brother with his ex-girlfriend. She’d spent enough time playing an uncomfortable intermediary between the two of them.

“Well, gotta go,” Zoey said, opening the car door to get out.

“It was good to hang out again,” Allie called after her. “And don’t forget to think about the gift fair!”

“I won’t!” Zoey promised, and shut the door.

As Allie drove off, Zoey wondered how long it would take before things were 100 percent back to normal between them. She hoped it was sooner rather than later. Being in friendship limbo was really awkward.

Marcus was in the kitchen snacking on peanut butter and an apple when Zoey walked in.

“Was that Allie’s car?” he asked.

“Yeah,” Zoey said, hoping he wouldn’t ask any uncomfortable questions. “She wants me to apply for a booth at the gift fair.”

“Did she ask about me?”

“She asked how you were.” Zoey sighed.

“What did you say?”

“I said you were moving on,” Zoey said.

“And what did she say?” Marcus asked.

“She said ‘good,’ or something like that,” Zoey said.

“That’s all?”

Marcus looked disappointed that Allie hadn’t been more interested in the topic of, well, him.

“Yeah, that’s all,” Zoey said. “I’m going upstairs.”

“Hey, Zo?”

Zoey stopped in the doorway and then turned back to face her brother.

“I’m glad you guys are hanging out again despite . . . you know, everything,” he said. “I know Allie’s one of the few people who understands what it’s like to be a fashion whiz.”

Zoey breathed a sigh of relief.

“I’m glad too,” she said. “I missed talking to her.”

“I just want you to know I’m okay with it,” Marcus said. “At least, I’m trying really hard to be all mature and grown-up and everything.”

“Thanks, Marcus,” Zoey said. “I appreciate it. I really do!”

“Enough to let me eat the last brownie, even though I’ve already had three?” Marcus asked with a hopeful grin.

“Wow, that’s a tough call,” Zoey said. But then she smiled. “Yeah, go ahead. I’m full from the hot chocolate, anyway!”



During lunch in school the next day, Zoey floated the idea of the gift fair to her friends.

“What do you think?” she asked. “I like the idea, but I’m worried about all the money I’d have to lay out in advance for the booth. What happens if I don’t sell enough to cover it?”

“I think it’s a fashiontastic idea! It’ll be like a real clothing store!” Priti Holbrooke said. “Why haven’t you done something like this before?”

“She’s sold her clothes on Etsy,” Kate Mackey pointed out.

“And Allie and I did the pop-up store on Etsy, too,” Zoey said.

“But this would be the first time people could see your clothes in person,” Priti countered.

The girls considered this as they ate their lunches.

“I guess that’s true. Shopping’s more fun when you can really see what you’re getting,” Libby Flynn said. “Especially when it comes to clothes.”

“But what if I don’t make back the money I have to pay for the booth?” Zoey worried. “Also, I’m jumping the gun. You have to apply to be selected.”

“You took a risk with Doggie Duds, and that worked out,” Kate reminded her.

Zoey thought back on all the risky projects she’d attempted in the last year or so. They certainly hadn’t been without their nail-biting moments, but they’d always turned out okay in the end.

“Why wouldn’t they select you for the gift fair?” Priti argued. “You’ve been on Fashion Showdown! Bryn Allen was on the cover of Celebrity magazine, wearing one of your designs. I mean, you’re practically . . . world famous!”

Zoey burst out laughing.

“Stop, Priti! You’re making me blush!” she said. “I’m hardly world famous.”

Zoey reached into her backpack. “Speaking of gift fairs, I’ve got some gifts for you guys.”

She handed each of her friends unique versions of the fabric bracelet she’d previously copied for Ivy Wallace when Emily Gooding was nagging Ivy to buy one. The bracelets were all the rage after having been featured in a recent issue of Très Chic magazine.

Libby’s was made of two different fabrics—one printed with little candies and the other with little carrots—to remind her of how hard she’d worked for the local food pantry for her Bat Mitzvah project. Kate’s fabric was covered in daisies, because those were her favorite flowers. Zoey figured a flowery bracelet was a subtle way for Kate to bring florals into her look. And Zoey had made Priti’s bracelet with a fabric printed with stars, to signify her friend’s love of being in the spotlight.

“Wow!” Libby said. “I love it! I’ve been wanting one of these bracelets ever since I saw them in Très Chic!”

“These are just like the ones Emily brags about all the time,” Kate, who was more into reading about sports than fashion, said.

“I love mine!” Priti said. “It’s so me!”

“I’m touched you remembered daisies are my favorite flowers, Zoey,” Kate said. “But . . . why did you buy us presents when it’s not anyone’s birthday?”

“I didn’t buy them,” Zoey explained. “I made them.”

Priti and Libby stared at her, shocked.

“I knew I hadn’t seen these fabric patterns before, but I thought you had some kind of special connection or something,” Libby said. “Like, maybe you got them before the general public could.”

“No,” Zoey said. “I just made them myself, inspired by the ones in Très Chic and, well, everywhere.”

“Are you allowed to do that?” Priti asked.

“Why not?” Zoey said.

Priti shrugged. “I don’t know. Never mind.” She put on her bracelet and held out her arm. “I love the design, though.”

“Oh! Now I get the design on mine,” Libby said. “It’s about my mitzvah project, right?”

“That’s right!” Zoey said. “The candy is for the sweets theme, and the carrots are because you grew vegetables and raised the money for the new fridge for the food pantry.”

“That’s so cool!” Libby said. “Although I have to admit that I’m glad my Bat Mitzvah is over—well, except for writing all the thank-you notes. That’s taking forever.”

“You must have hundreds to write,” Priti said.

“I haven’t counted, but it’s a lot!” Libby said. “I’m pacing myself. I try to do a few every night and then some on the weekends, when I’m not volunteering at the food pantry, just so I can get them over with.” She looked over at Kate. “That reminds me . . . I haven’t seen you and Tyler at the food pantry lately.”

“That’s because we’re not going out anymore,” Kate said.

“Wait, what?!” Priti exclaimed. “When did that happen? And why?”

“We decided about a week ago,” Kate said.

“And you didn’t tell us?” Priti said.

Kate shrugged.

“But why did you break up?” Zoey asked.

“Don’t get me wrong—Tyler’s a nice guy and all. But it’s not like we spent that much time together,” Kate explained. “And then we fought at Libby’s Bat Mitzvah—”

“But you worked that out, didn’t you?” Zoey said.

“Kind of,” Kate said. “But in the end, we realized we were better off as friends.” She looked around the table at the other girls’ concerned faces. “It’s the best thing. Really.”

“Are you sure?” Libby asked. “You guys seemed to have fun together at the food pantry.”

“We can still have fun, but as friends,” Kate said. She smiled. “I’m okay with it. Really, I am.”

Kate’s smile was genuine, but Zoey couldn’t help wondering if her friend seemed just a little . . . too okay. She resolved to investigate further.

About The Author

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.

About The Illustrator

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.

Raves and Reviews

"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."

– Booklist

"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."

– School Library Journal

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