Does Sewing Make Me A Sewer?

So Friday my mom ask me why I keep calling myself a sewer.  A sewer?  What the heck was she talking talking about?

And then I saw on our blog “The best giveaway ever (at least for sewers it is)” Ahhhhh….when I am saying in my brain sew-er (as in one who sews) it is written out as sewer (like the collection of tubes through which waste is moved). 
So it got me to thinking…what do you call a person who sews?
Recently I’ve seen this word a lot:
and there’s nothing wrong with that word…except that I don’t think it’s a real word.  Which shouldn’t really bug me because I use words all the time that aren’t really words like ginormica or ascared (a mix between afraid and scared) and I act like that is perfectly normal. 
 But the other problem is that I just don’t really like it.  No good reason—it’s just that every time I read it it sounds to me like a snooty person is saying it through their nose and emphasizing the s sounds.—Try saying it that way, and wrinkle your nose when you do it—annoying!
(Ok—that was a terrifying look into my crazy thought processes…let’s just move on)
There are whole lists of words for people who sew specific items like:
tailor (or “sartor” if you perfer the latin term)
couturier  (a person involved in the fashion industry who makes original garments to order for private clients)
but we sew more than dresses, aren’t really tailors, and I’m not sure that my children count as “private clients”.
Which leads me to turn to the lists of other commonly used titles which include:
fabric artist
textile artist
sewing enthusiast
custom clothier
garment maker
but again, I make more than garments, am not always that enthusiastic, and technically it’s my machine that is working the needle and not me.
So now I’m left with the lists of more creative titles:
However, with three kids I’m never alone while working, I’m hardly exact enough at anything to qualify me as an ”ologist”, and as much as I’d like to roll with my fellow sewin’ hommies I’m not packing any threaded heat (although if you mess with my seam ripper I’m liable to bust a cap in you foo).
So what do we do?
What do we call ourselves?
I think for now I’m just going to call myself a “sew-er” with the hyphen.
And I guess at least I won’t be a sewer anymore.
What do you think?
Do you have a favorite term?  Sewist?  Stitcher?  Seamster?
Master and Commander of the Sewing Machine?
Come on—there has to be something. 
What do you prefer?

38 thoughts on “Does Sewing Make Me A Sewer?

  1. Hmmmm hadn’t thought about it before now – I’m sure I’ve called myself a sewer too!
    I’m not keen on sewist either, sounds a bit severe! How about “she who attempts to sew whilst simultaneously making the dinner, tidying the house and caring for children” ; )

  2. I struggled with this for a while. What do I put on my profiles and business cards? To make maters worse, I quilt, I sew and I also make other things with fabric that do not always require a needle and thread. I do not like the stigma that comes with the word crafter. It implies pipe cleaners, glitter and an egg carton. Craftsman has the right ring to it, but I am not a man, and craftswoman is too feminist for me. I am a maker; of modern quilts, clothing and accessories.

  3. I have been through exactly the same thought process and now I am no longer content with sew-er even though it is my preferred term. If you come up with an answer can you let me know so I can use it too please?

  4. I have the same problem with sewist – I don’t think it’s a word, and as an English major I can’t deal with that! Also, it’s often paired with home (home sewist) which belittles the whole endeavor in my opinion. So lately I’ve been using designer. It’s imperfect as well, since it doesn’t cover the execution of the designs, but for business cards I think it sounds better.

  5. i have no problem calling myself a sewer, my hubby is a master plumber after all and i am very thankful for modern plumbing:) however, i do like it with the hyphen much more.i think i may be using writing it that way from now on.

  6. LOL, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought this same thing! To be honest, the word sewist makes me gag a little, and unfortunately it is everywhere. There are books about “yada, yada…for the modern sewist” and all I can think is that the “modern” sewist should probably know how to read. Surely they can figure out from the context that the word SEWER has nothing to do with a toilet in this case! I have tried to use seamstress once in awhile, but then I feel bad that I’m leaving out all the awesome guys who sew. So for now, I’m with you. Let’s just stick with sewer. :D

  7. I probably usually go with sewer (sew-er!), but I like your suggestion of fabric artist the best! I should start using that term! :o)

  8. I wasn’t aware of the term “sewist” seems sort of corny to me. I struggled with this up until the last couple of years. I now refer to myself as a seamstress. Although, I just looked up “seamstress” and found another term: needlewoman. That gave me a good chuckle. I may have to call myself a needlewoman from now on. You can too!

  9. I respect the right of others to use the term “sewist”, in the same way I can respect others’ rights to put sugar in cornbread or syrup on grits.

    As it happens, “fiber artist” is used in the art world for artists like art quilters, weavers, paper and book makers, etc. My sister ( ) is a fiber artist. I am a seamstress.

  10. I used to design sewers, and I am a sewer! I know the difference, and I think most people do, too. I mean, there are lots of words in the English language that are spelled the same , pronounced differently, and have different meanings: read/read, lead/lead, tear/tear, bass/bass, bow/bow. I just learned that these are called heteronymns. And, according to Webster’s dictionary, sewer is a noun for someone who sews. I think we should just stick with what we are used to calling ourselves most of the time, and that is a sewer!

  11. Okay, so when my sister was little she wrote a paper about how she wanted to be a “sew-er” like our mom, but she always said she was so frustrated writing the paper because she kept reading “sewer”. So I have been using sewist because of that story, but now I am all messed up again because I DO NOT want to sound like a snob when I blog.

  12. I’m like EHC – if you hadn’t posted I’d have not even thought about sew-er being read as sewer. Too funny. My mom always referred to herself as a seamstress but I guess I’ve never really referred to myself as anything but “I sew”. I suspect I would revert to my childhood and call myself a seamstress if pushed but really, I quite like sewVery’s comment and agree heartily! Fun to think about :)

  13. I prefer “sewer” it’s funny you wrote this because I have been thinking the *same* thing! In time the language will change and “sewer” will be a word just give it some time ;)

  14. Like you I sew clothing, quilts, pillows, drapes, dolls, you name it, when people ask I use the term seamstress because they understand that best. If they ask what type of seamstress, or what type of sewing then I tell them I sew a little of everything.

  15. I guess I just usually say “I sew” or I make clothes… because it seems to pigeonhole you to say things like seamstress, and tailor and the like. IDK, I don’t think I make it a label as opposed to something that I do. I don’t want to downplay it, because it has become an integral part of who I am. I guess I am always aspiring to be things (as my occupation, I consider myself an aspiring fermentation expert… which means I am a wine, beer and cheese dork… all fermentables :) but will never actually consider myself an expert. So in that case I guess I could say I am an aspiring sewing extraordinaire (HAHHHA soo just kidding)or aspiring seamstress…

    But then again, sewer is cool too ;-)

  16. I am somewhat new to sewing, and I have always wondered how the sewing community felt about this! Thanks for writing this…I never really liked “sewer” either. What we do is so much prettier than that! I guess I’ll go with sew-er?


  17. I totally agree- I say sew-er too, but I am sure I spell it sewer and had to read it through several times until I realized your mother thought you were speaking of the thing that Ninja Turtles live in!

  18. I have had this dilemma too..until you mentioned “Master and Commander of the Sewing Machine”. Oh yes. I think that will do nicely.
    My husband and friends of ours do refer to me as “CraftOR” Kind of like Gigantor or another made up monster/superhero thing.
    I will run “Master and Commander of the Sewing Machine” by them and see what happens.
    Maybe we’ll abbreviate: MAC of the SM

  19. I have to admit, when I first read your post the other day, I thought you were talking about sewers instead of sew-ers and it really confused me until I read it a few times and then I felt like an idiot. :D

  20. I say sewer (sew-er), but I think I type sewist? How about sewiatrix (like aviatrix)? Sound even dirtier than a sewer, maybe? Haha.

  21. What a great post! So funny!! I truly never thought about it and never saw sewer as a sewer.I will always consider myself a sewer,but I LOVE Lisa’s “Fabric Goddess”!!! How cool!! Don’t know if I’m cool enough to carry it off tho!! LOL Darlene

  22. This one is tough as I knit, sew, quilt, embroider, cross-stitch, etc… On my Etsy shop called Jennuine Design I refer to “creations” to avoid pigeon holing myself. I think now I’ll just say I make stuff with pointy sticks – that seems to cover the gammut!

  23. Before the Industrial Revolution a woman who crafted a variety of fabric items for personal or gift use was simply called – A Woman. Maybe that’s why we don’t have a name for ourselves yet. ;)
    I tend to refer to myself as a sewer, since I don’t think I have the proficiency to qualify as a seamstress. I’m intermediate at best. I tend to write/blog it as sew-er, but hate that, it feels like apologizing for making up a word. I say go with sewer, in context it makes sense.

  24. In an issue of Ottobre Design I was recently reading, I saw them using the word “sewista.” I’m fine with sewer myself, but thought sewista a much better choice than sewist.

  25. I was about to call myself a sewer when I set up my blog, until I went back and re-read it… I’m sure everyone else would know what I was talking about, but it bugged me! So I went with the hypenated version! too funny! I think about this often as well!

  26. I love this post! Because “sewer” is a huge pet peeve of mine. Especially when typed out, because it IS sewer.
    I say seamstress, it’s a much more sophisticated word in my opinion. :)

  27. I prefer seamstress or, as my kids call it, sewing machine driver. I guess a pedal is a pedal is a pedal, lol. But I will agree COMPLETELY that I truly truly HATE the word “Sewist”. It seems from what I see that it’s only used by the hip young things. And while I’m young, I’m just not that hip.

  28. When listing things on my resume, I use “stitcher” because that’s what we call it in the costume shop. For non-professional things, I say “I sew” and leave it at that.

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