The textiles classroom was close to the drama room, but it wasn’t somewhere I’d spent a lot of time before – not since my last textiles class in Year Nine. I had a horrible feeling that Miss Cotterill was probably still going to remember the hideous stuffed whale thing I made in that class. I just hoped she wouldn’t mention it in front of Connor.
“You want to join Sewing Club?” Miss Cotterill peered over her tiny glasses at me. “Are you sure?”
Connor was silently laughing behind me. I couldn’t see him, but I just knew.
“Very.” I tried out my best “I know what I’m doing” smile. It had worked for Mr Hughes. “I’m going to be, um, wardrobe and props mistress for the school play, so it’s important I join you here while you’re all working on the costumes.”
Miss Cotterill didn’t look particularly impressed by my made-up title, but at least she didn’t snort with amusement. Unlike Connor.
“Fine,” she said, turning back to her desk, where a queue of Year Sevens was forming, all with tangles of thread and fabric. “But I warn you, costumes are tricky. It’s going to be a lot of work, and if you want that fancy job title I expect you to earn it. So I hope you’re ready to work hard, and that you have some idea what you’re doing.”
“My gran taught me to sew when I was little,” I told her, a little stung that she so obviously didn’t think I was up to the job. “I’ll be fine.”
“Hmm,” she muttered, probably remembering the stuffed whale. She handed back a detangled felt heart to the first Year Seven. “We’ll see. And what about you, young man? What’s your job here?”
I moved aside to let Connor take centre stage. He shrugged. “Jack of all trades, really. I’m going to be the stage manager on the play, so I just wanted to introduce myself.”
That she looked approving of. “Good. I’m sure you’ll be kept busy, and that we’ll be seeing a lot of you. Now, I have a class to teach. Grace, I’ll see you in Sewing Club on Monday.”
We were dismissed.
For those of you who are familiar with Katy Cannon’s work you will probably know what to expect from Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines. It is the second book set at St Mary’s, follows the same group of friends as Katy’s first book, Love, Lies and Lemon Pies and has a similar layout, as the first book with simple textile projects separating the chapters like LL&LPs had recipes.
This time we are thrust into the life of Grace, the bitching, popular girl from the first book who turned out to be a pretty ok person by the end of it. I wasn’t sure that I would enjoy this book because Grace was probably my least favourite character in the first book. However it is this that makes it all the more brilliant and I ended up really enjoying the book as it not only reinforces the idea that people can change, it shows how sometimes people can be their own worst critic.
Grace’s life has been turned upside down this school year with the arrival of a sister in the summer holidays. Her parents have turned into strangers and she’s got to deal with the fact that she’s not an only child, whilst trying to succeed in hitting the goals she has set herself for year 12 – mainly to become a star in the school play. But when she’s late for auditions – due to her mother and fathers insistence on a family night out – she misses the spotlight role. The only thing open to her is the wardrobes and proper assistant role, but thats no small feat, not when Grace is determined that if thats the role she’s given, she’s going to do it the best she can. Can Grace learn to sew, hit the mark with the costumes and stitch her family together whilst she does so?
The story unfolds in a mess of fabric, stitching and the assumption that she’s going to dig for the main part by the new boy at school – Connor. Connor was an interesting character and whilst he needed his priorities sorting a little bit in parts of the book I was really taking by him. I liked the hard exterior that he put up and the little bits of the real him you got to see like when he was tending to his sister when Grace was at his house. Grace herself too grew in a way that surprised me, but it shouldn’t have done because I know what being 16/17 is like and how much one person can change in at that time of life.
It was great having some of the same characters to revisit and I really enjoyed finding out what was going on with the Bake Club lot since Mac the Big Bake Off in the last book. Katy’s writing is really great for this kind of book and you start to feel like one of the group as you’re reading.
The sewing guides between each chapter were brilliant and were so simple that I think I could probably even manage them – despite the fact I’m rubbish on a sewing machine! I liked that the started off simple and explained things clearly and that they made me want to make something – so I’m fairly confident they’ll make other readers catch the creativity bug too.
I really did enjoy this book, there were some moments that seemed a little twee but that happened in the first too and I think it comes from the audience its aimed at… its very much a younger teens insight into an older teen life with whirlwind romances and the like. I loved the outcome with Yasmin and Ash and how real that felt though, and like I said earlier, I loved just how much grace grew within the pages. Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines is well worth a read in my view!
Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines was published on February 2nd by Stripes Publishing. My copy was sent form the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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