Sew Zoey Character Inspires Middle School Readers to Dream
The idea for the Sew Zoey middle grade series came out of a light bulb moment that, in a way, I’d been researching for years. Everything from learning to sew as a young girl, to pouring over fashion magazines at camp, to watching clothing design reality shows, to admiring my fashion-forward sister’s wardrobe inspired me to create this series.
While Zoey loves to sew, the series isn’t just for young readers who like sewing, crafting, and being creative. It’s for anyone with larger-than-life dreams. I came up with the series in part because I felt like everywhere I looked kids were sharing their passions with the world. These days, it seems like if you have discipline and talent and believe in yourself, the sky’s the limit.
It was really important to me to show strong friendships between girls. I love writing about how these girls support each other. This might sound lofty, but I also hoped Zoey could be a role model as someone who is confident in her abilities and isn’t paralyzed by the need to fit in—which is something I remember being concerned with in middle school. I was intrigued by the idea of a girl creating a unique style for herself at an age when she would still be figuring out who she is and who she wants to be (and having a lot of fun in the process)!
If you haven’t read it yet, Sew Zoey is the story of Zoey Webber, a 12-year-old girl who loves fashion and spends hours drawing clothes in her sketchbook. When her middle school abandons its uniform policy, Zoey shows the sketches to her best friends, Kate and Priti, to give them an idea of what she wants to wear to school. They encourage her to post her designs online in her very own Sew Zoey blog.
Zoey goes a step further by learning to sew so she can turn her sketches into real clothes. Zoey gets teased at school for her outfits, but her friends rally around her so she doesn’t feel isolated. In addition to learning that she has strong fashion instincts, Zoey learns that she also has great friends. While that’s going on at school, Zoey’s blog is a hit and she becomes a minor celebrity online. I think readers will love following along as she navigates a very bittersweet situation.
Unlike Zoey, when I was in middle school I thought uniforms were kind of cool, but that’s probably because I never had to wear them. I learned to sew when I was a little younger than Zoey. Zoey’s Aunt Lulu, who teaches her to sew, is based on my amazing grandmother Louise. When I visited my Nani, as I called her, I would often forget to pack pajamas or a bathing suit. She would literally sew me a bathing suit on the spot! I’m starting to wonder if I forgot clothing on purpose just so I could see her work her magic at the machine!
I also loved sewing with my mom: when I was 12, we made teddy bears complete with Anne of Green Gables-era clothing and she let me design the dress for my bat mitzvah. She even taught me to hem pants by hand…in the car…on the way to the airport to go to college thousands of miles away. It was one of those things she thought I really needed to learn and that would serve me well as an adult. Boy, was she ever right!
Have you heard the saying, “you wipe it here and it shines over there”? It’s so true for me. I had no idea that reading all of those magazines and learning to sew would, one day, inform a middle-grade series! It all came together with Sew Zoey.
About Sew Zoey
Zoey Webber lives a double life: Her quirky homemade clothes make her a misfit at her suburban middle school, but her inventive ”Sew Zoey” fashion design blog puts her on the A-list at Fashion Week.