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Has this ever happened to you?

You have met someone new and they shared with their joy sewing with you. You follow by asking them:

 “Could you hem my pants?”

 “Replace this zipper in my jacket?” or 

 “I have this really simple dress that needs to be taken in, do you think you can do it?”

 They may kindly reply with a yes. However, you mostly heard; 

“No, I don’t do that kind of sewing.” Leaving you wondering…

“there’s more than one kind of sewing?”

 So, let’s explore the definition of sewing and of the person who sews.

What is sewing?

Seamstress cutting


Sewing as a noun is described as the act or work of someone who sews.

(The definitions in this post are from either http://www.dictionary.com or http://www.urbandictionary.com with a few editorial comments from me for clarification. I also chose not to link every term to their definitions of the above-mentioned websites)

Sew as a verb is described as follows:

1. to join or attach by stitches

2. To make, repair, etc., (a garment) by such means 

3. To enclose or secure with stitches

4. To close (a hole) by means of stitches

5 (without object) to work with needle and thread or with a sewing machine.

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Sewing titles, don’t they do all the same things?

People who enjoy sewing are referred to by various terms and titles. For many who sew, the title or term used to describe them truly matters. These titles often give insights into what form of sewing they most enjoy.  Yet, you will find the terms are not always interchangeable. 

The following list of definitions are sewing as a noun, using the names/references as the term of someone who sews. Then, as a verb o describe the noun in reference to definition number 5 above. To sew with needle and thread or sewing machine.

It’s all in the name:

  • Sewer: a person or thing that sews 
  • Sewist: Street slang for a badass seamstress. A mix of hobbyist meets seamstress. It is also a word that is despised by many seamstresses. According to Urbandictionary.com (I believe this word was created due to the dislike of being referred to as a sewer.)
  • Seamstress (from seams-mistress) or seamster (from seams-master): a woman/man whose occupation is sewing.
  • Dressmaker:  a person whose occupation is the making or alteration of women’s dresses, coats, etc.
  • Tailor: a person whose occupation is the making, mending, or altering of clothes, especially suits, coats, and other outer garments mainly menswear.
  • Alteration-ist: someone who specializes in the act or process of altering clothing
  • garment worker: often used to describe someone who assists in assembling clothing in mass production.
  • Quilter: a person who to stitches together (two pieces of cloth and a soft interlining), usually in an ornamental pattern.
  • Upholsterer: someone who provides (chairs, sofas, etc.) with coverings, cushions, stuffing, springs, etc. (home furnishing, auto, boats, bicycle & motorcycle seats, etc)
  • Crafter: someone who practices  an art, trade, or occupation requiring special skill, especially manual skill
  • Couturier: French term for a person who designs, makes, and sells fashionable clothes for women.
  • Designer: a person who devises or executes designs, especially one who creates forms, structures, and patterns, as for clothing fashion.

People who sew often specialize in the type of sewing that appeals most to them. Much in the same way people who are passionate about cars, woodworking, painting, sports or gardening. For someone new to sewing, it’s best to learn fundamental skills, then grow into a specialty as their skills and goals grow. For the non-sewer, asking questions when someone shares about their sewing, shows interest and respect. Not a service to be provided (unless they hand you a business card).

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