Sew Zoey...

a Sew Zoey book review | allie J. (alliemjackson.com)

I think I've mentioned before that I am a children's librarian. One of the best things about this job, after getting to see beautiful little shining faces every day (but not actually being responsible for them in any serious capacity, ha!), is that it gives me both access to basically every new book and a great excuse to read them!

I try to read one book from all of the most popular series, just so I know a little about them, and feel confident in recommending them (or not) to library patrons. That's how I've gotten stuck reading Rainbow Magic fairy books, which are really popular but certifiably terrible, but it's also how I've found some favorites. It's hard to claim you are reading for professional development as you plow through book six of the Ranger's Apprentice series, for example. Similarly, I've recently been hooked on this series for older elementary school-middle school students called Sew Zoey. It's about...

a sewing blogger!

Oh my gosh, right? Our little community has hit the big time. We've made it. We're in.

I thought I would write a little review, in case any of you want to read them have small friends who you think might want to read the series. They're short (well, short for a grown up) at around 150 pages, so I've been picking up whichever ones are checked in and reading them on my lunch breaks. Overall, I think they are very cute, and it's hilarious to read about the glamorous life of a sewing blogger!

a Sew Zoey book review | allie J. (alliemjackson.com)
Here's Zoey, planning out which sewalong to participate in this month.
Zoey Webber is a middle schooler whose school just decided to get rid of uniforms. Zoey, a budding fashion designer, decides that she'll use this opportunity to sew up a unique wardrobe for herself (and occasionally her friends)--everything from daily outfits to dresses for the middle school dance! Zoey's creations don't exactly make her popular at school, where cool kids don't usually wear homemade clothes, but her blog, Sew Zoey, rapidly (very rapidly!) gains a following and Zoey becomes Internet Famous. 

You think that's horsehair braid in those ruffles? or just 500 miles of rolled hem?
Each chapters begins with a quick blog post, including sketches of outfit ideas. The illustrations in these books are all black and white, so unfortunately we only see sketches. Also, strange for a sewing blogger, we never see finished products? 

Maybe I'll transition my blog to pencil-drawings only?
Zoey quickly moves from Internet Famous to Actually Sort Of Famous when it turns out that real-life designer Daphne Shaw is a fan of her blog. In several books, Zoey gets asked to do famous-people things because of her blog.  

If you've ever read Teen Vogue and seen the "best dorm ever!" or whatever column and been super jealous of some 19 year old's living space/wardrobe and confused by how some "regular 19 year old" has such great stuff and your house is full of misassembled ikea, then gotten to the part in the article where it says "daughter of designer _________/son of actress _______" and been like ohhhhh, these storylines will be familiar to you, because this totally rings true to all sewing bloggers only happens to the children of celebrities. In Lights, Camera, Fashion!, she's asked to be a guest judge of Fashion Showdown (Project Runway)--but the filming is the same night as the middle school dance! Luckily, they wrap early, and Zoey gets to wear the winning dress to the dance, arriving fashionably late. In another, she gets invited to a personal tour of the Daphne Shaw studio (the famous designer, remember?). In a third, she is part of an up-and-coming designer showcase in Tres Chic magazine. These star moments provide some nice aspirational fluff, backed up by a behind-the-scenes look at exactly how hard Zoey is working to keep on top of her sewing and schoolwork. In yet another, a teen celebrity who reads her blog(!) sees Zoey's sketch of an outfit on Sew Zoey and requests one for herself(!!), which she then gets photographed wearing on the cover of Celebrity magazine(!!!).

a Sew Zoey book review | allie J. (alliemjackson.com)
I feel you, Zoey.
My favorite one I've read so far is Stitches and Stones, which deals with online harrassment/cyberbullying in an age-appropriate way. Zoey's blog comments start filling up with nasty comments, and Zoey starts feeling really down about her fashion design and her blogging.  She's nervous to talk to her dad because she thinks he'll make her shut the blog down, but wise older brother convinces her to confess what's stressing her out, and dad and the principal get involved. Turns out (and I'm not giving anything away here, it's fairly obvious if you are an adult reading these) it is the mean girls at school, who have been using multiple pseudonyms to make it look like more than three mean commenters. Very sneaky.

Overall, I quite enjoy reading these books. As an accurate representation of the life of a sewing blogger, they are a failure. Everyone knows that these blogs are a labor of love, and the vast (vast) majority of us make $0 (or -$, depending on if you count fabric, boo). However, they do feel very real on the middle school front. I didn't sew in middle school (nor did I blog, that wasn't a thing), but almost everyone feels like they stick out, especially if they are on the creative side, and the treatment of Zoey's everyday problems--friends, mean girls, homework--felt true to life. Add in the stress of sewing four fancy dresses to a deadline and middle school seems tough! Plus, often these more fashion-centered books for tweens get catty and mean, and the Sew Zoey series has a lot of heart. It's very moral without being preachy.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading about Zoey's sewing and blogging. Its funny to relate to a character's sewing problems. Have you ever read any fiction books about sewing? Any recommendations?

xoxo
allie

EDIT: McCall's apparently agrees with me--they've just debuted a new Sew Zoey collection for girls!

10 comments:

  1. That's really cool! I wouldn't have expected that a book series like this existed. I teach some kids and tweens sewing camps, so this will be a great book to recommend!

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    1. Oh gosh its perfect for that venue! The books are really cute, with some good life lessons and lots of design inspiration :)

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  2. thats a really great book! I love the creative geek element and talking about cyberbullying and so on. how did our generation ever get by with the rise of the internet without those conversations?! and of course shes a sewing blogger!! Im glad that the book makes her internet famous cause thats cool, but not every blog hits the big time... so i wonder does she ever have those moments where she gets no comments? or a small amount of blog views? cause there is something to learn there about rejection there which im sure every blogger with 0 comments thinks about! Now i wish i knew a little girl with a sewing streak that i could give this too! or maybe just myself haha

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    1. I actually really like that idea--I think most (all) of us have experienced feeling frustrated with blogging, or uninspired to sew, or both. It does make blogging look easy, and blogging is only easy sometimes! I can imagine that some girls are inspired by the series to start their own creative blogs, and disappointed when they aren't immediately asked to guest judge on project runway!

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  3. This is really cool! I feel like I want to pass these books out to a lot of little kids and get them interested in sewing! :D (Maybe with a disclaimer about how non-glamorous it is!!)

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    1. Definitely! In the one I just finished, Zoey makes a new friend, a BOY who sews (and knows all the coolest pastry stores, too--they eat cronuts!) who I totally think should get a(n admittedly fictional) blog. He could give Taylor Tailor and Male Pattern Boldness a run for their money!

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  4. Oh my gosh how cute! At first I thought I have to get this for my niece, but I think I have to get it for me! What a great job you have!

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    1. It's a really cute series! AND apparently, McCall's agrees with me--they just put out a little Sew Zoey collection of patterns for girls!

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  5. Woh YES! I am a librarian tooooo. When we started getting these books I was so excited. And so jealous that I wasn't able to enjoy them as a kid!

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