Sewing / Stitches Podcast

Are you a ‘sewer’ or a ‘sewist’? Podcast & Giveaway

Stitches Episode 2 Are you a Sewer or a SewistToday’s podcast features a very fun & special guest, Leila from the blog The Three Dresses Project.

Leila was so excited to be on the show she was aflame. And Mari was a burning ball of fiery enthusiasm to have Leila as a guest star. Much giggling occurred during this chat about what we call ourselves as people who like to sew.

This podcast is also available on PodOmatic.

Show notes:

  • It seems the most well known term among people sew & those who don’t is ‘sewer’. But when written out it looks like the ‘sewer’, as in those subterranean pipes that carry all manner of sludge & ickiness.
  • Because of that people- bloggers especially- started calling themselves ‘sewists’, but when seen as a cross between ‘sewer’ & ‘artist’ some people (Mari) think it’s pretentious.
  • Hobbyist’ can also rub people the wrong way if people use it demeaningly, as a way to say you’re not serious about your craft.
  • The worst term might be ‘Becky Home-ecky.’ How are we to be taken seriously about handmaking our clothes when Tim Gunn is freely using this term on Project Runway?
  • Dressmaker’ & ‘Seamstress’ seem less controversial but also imply that someone is making clothing for other people for a living. The word ‘dressmaker’ suggests someone who makes fancier & less practical things like fine dresses. ‘Seamstress’ implies someone who does more utility sewing- as in everyday clothing & mending.
  • Tailors’ are the male counterparts to ‘dressmakers’ & ‘seamstresses.’ Can a woman be a tailor? It seems nowadays there’s more cross-over when it comes to tailoring & gender roles.
  • Can calling yourself a ‘couture sewist’ be snooty or does it just describe the kind of sewing you do?
  • In the fashion industry the people who sew clothing are called ‘stitchers,’ a more gender neutral word. But, the industry delineates what each person does more specifically for the purposes of clarity. At home we do everything: we’re pattern makers, drapers, cutters, etc. Is calling yourself a ‘stitcher’ implying you only sew?
  • Historically we haven’t heard of anyone using special terms to label themselves as someone who sewed unless they were sewing for a living. Sewing was something you had to do because you were alive- it helped shelter your body from the weather.
  • Sewing was an everyday thing & an expectation. Brides were given a basket with basic sewing supplies to mend and make the clothes they had last longer.
  • As bloggers we’re taking on more roles as we branch out into business. What do we call ourselves when we’ve got a professional business, but didn’t go to fashion school or have an apprenticeship? What about when we only sew for ourselves & don’t do custom projects for clients, but own things like pattern companies or teach sewing classes?
  • For further thoughts on this topic, see this Sewaholic post.


Recent sewing bloggers turned home sewing pattern makers include Steph from 3HoursPast & Cake Patterns, Melissa from Fehr Trade, Amy from Cloth Habit, Maddie from Madalynne & Tilly from Tilly & the Buttons.

To celebrate all these emerging indie pattern designers Leila & I are having a giveaway of Steph’s patterns from Cake Patterns. Now, Leila works for Steph & Steph graciously offered to donate these patterns to the giveaway for free. But we’re the ones who will be sending you the patterns. Leila & I aren’t doing this as agents of Cake Patterns. We’re doing it because we just recorded a podcast & because we love indie pattern companies.

Comment to win the Pavlova pattern once it's been released.

Comment to win the Pavlova pattern once it’s been released.

So, comment here to win a copy of the Pavlova pattern– we’ll ship it to you once it’s been released. Hop on over to Leila’s blog & comment to win a copy of the Tiramisu pattern. The giveaway is open until February 27th.  International entries welcome. Here’s how to win:

  1. Leave me a comment saying what you call yourself as someone who sews. Please specify that you want to win & leave a way to contact you.
  2. Get an extra entry for mentioning in the same post that you have subscribed to my blog.

And just for fun- not extra entries- fill out this poll. What do you call yourself? If you choose ‘other’ write in what that ‘other’ is. 

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70 thoughts on “Are you a ‘sewer’ or a ‘sewist’? Podcast & Giveaway

  1. Hmmm…..I guess I would say a sewer. I like to make many things, quilts, bags, clothes, etc. Typically I just tell my family I am going to go sew, and they wait to see what happens. I would enjoy trying the new Cake patterns and would like to be entered in the drawing for the Pavlova. Thank you!

  2. This is so interesting. I call myself a “sewer” and people often correct me saying that I am a seamstress. I don’t feel like that term really describes all of the things I do, so I prefer sewer. I can understand why people call themselves sewists, but I actually prefer the term, sewer.

    I am entering the giveaway (thanks!). Email is a great way to contact me, and I also subscribe via google reader already.

  3. Pingback: Sewing Blogger Meetup | Disparate Disciplines

  4. I don’t normally label myself anything in particular. If someone comments on an outfit, I will say “I made it myself!” Otherwise, when talking about hobbies, I will list sewing, along with my other craft activities. So I avoid the sewer/sewist debate by saying that I like to sew.
    I follow your blog on Google currents.

  5. If I am blogging, I use “sewist” (“sewer” looks just horrible in print). Otherwise, I just say I love to sew or craft things. I would love to win the Pavlova (love the style). I also follow you.

  6. When referring to my sewing activities, I call myself a sewing enthusiast. That’s because I’m mainly a knit fabric designer, who also enjoys sewing.

    I’d like a chance to win the pattern. I’ve also subscribed to your blog.

    Thanks for starting your podcast. I’m an eager listener. 🙂

  7. I’d love to win the Pavlova. I missed out on the pre sale so that would be really cool.

    I also subscribed via Google Reader, always like it when I find another cool sewing blog to follow.

    As for sewing terms I haven’t really settled on one yet. I tend to use the terms sewer, sewist and seamstress all interchangeably, or usually just sheepishly say ‘I like to sew’ or ‘I sew’.

  8. If I were writing, I might use sewist just to avoid the plumbing-confusion, but IRL, I’m sure I would use sewer. Mostly I just tell people I am learning to sew. I really haven’t been at the sewing thing long enough to consider it a defining, title-requiring hobby yet. 🙂 I’d love to win Pavlova. I got Tiramisu for Christmas and loved it! I am subscribed to your blog in my RSS feeder.

  9. Loved your podcast. My terms… I use seamstress (literally, because to me it means “one who makes seams” and everything I sew has a seam. Stitcher and sewist I sprinkle in for flavor. I am in love with “sewcialist” from twitter (not even sure where you two ladies found or made this term up, but I am claiming it!

    Keep up the good work!

  10. I can’t wait to listen when I’m sewing today! Thanks for running the giveaway, too. I wish I coulda been there with y’all, two of my favorite online peeps…

    I use sewist, but also stitcher… 🙂

  11. Fun conversation! My resume says I’m a “stitcher” but I usually tell people I meet outside of work that I’m a “seamstress”. Tailors in my world are more about the alterations of store-bought and the building of custom suits.

    And here’s a title you may not have heard: “First Hand” which is the cutter/draper’s assistant. Shop hierarchy is usually designer, cutter/draper, first hand, then stitcher. My home business has me doing a bit of all of those positions but I REALLY dislike being called a designer. I love the building and constructing part of sewing the most.

    (I don’t need to enter but thank you for the chance!)

  12. Hi, my name is Rachel… and I sew 🙂 I actually am just attempting my first dress/ clothing item which is kind of been going rough… but I have high hopes of one day needing to decide what to call myself due to many successful clothing items 🙂 Please enter me for the pattern… I would so much love to try… I follow your blog too! Thank you so much!

  13. Sewing Blogger. Bam! XD Please don’t enter me into the giveaway I have enough patterns already that I could use to make a cake pattern (but I won’t because it’s not my style). Cheers for setting this up-saving the podcast for when I’m next sewing.

  14. That was fantastic! Totally entertaining. Loved it! As far as what to call myself, I avoid the question. I create bag patterns but I don’t even like the word designer because my bags don’t have interesting curves or ruffles or patchwork – my strength is in the insanely overly detailed instructions. Does that make me a designer? I feel like more of a technical writer. And for sewing, sewist is probably better than sewer in blog posts, sew-er is probably what I use when speaking. I’ll pay more attention next time. A ton of people get around it by calling themselves quilters, but I’m not a quilter. I’ve made several quilts, but I’m not a quilter. I use quilting cotton (though I’d love those same fun prints on some home dec) but don’t always or mostly quilt with it. I use the rotary cutters and mats and all of those things, but my first impulse is never to make a log cabin block. It’s always a wallet or a makeup bag or a purse…

    Thanks for the giveaway!! I have the Tira pattern but I need to find fabric so I can make it!

  15. Hi Mari!! What a fantastic giveaway. You know I had to enter it. I love indie pattern designers as well, and can’t wait to try one of their patterns. And, congratulations on your podcast!! Can’t wait to hear the next ones!! And how great that you could meet up with Leila in “real life”.

    And, you may not like this, lol, but I like the word “sewist”. It sounds like a real profession, and does have the gender neutral thing, which I also like. Seamstress, sounds too feminine, too much like “princess”, although I would have chosen it if it weren’t for that. Stitcher is a fun one too.

    And, I already follow your blog, as you know (it’s too great not to 🙂 ).

  16. I often go for sewist (for the reason that it looks better visually than “sewer”, not the pretentious artist thing). My recent favorite is Oonaballoona’s “Sewasaurus Rex”! But pretty much anything is better than “Becky Home-ecky”– disses my favorite hobby AND my name!

  17. I recently found your blog and I’m currently obsessed with sewing. I am a beginner. A baby sewer or stitcher or what have you. I really like the idea of the Pavlova pattern and would like one. Yes indeedy.

  18. I think “dressmaker” is more exact, as it explains some of my stranger ideas about sewing (e.g. anything under 2.5 yards is a remnant!) I would love the Tira! I’m a sucker for a surplice neckline and cut on sleeves.

    I just found you via Leila’s blog, and now I subscribe via e-mail.

  19. Ooh interesting! When people ask what I am doing I tell them I am a seamstress. It’s quick and gets the point across to those who don’t sew. I usually expand from there and say I have an Etsy shop and am starting to teach classes. If I want things to get interesting I skip all of the above and tell them I’m a Fairy Godmother in training. 🙂

    When I blog I address you all as the “World” or more lately as “Stashbusters!” so I guess I skip this issue.

    Yes I would like to be entered in the Pavlova giveaway! I believe you already have my email!
    Thanks a bunch!

  20. Pingback: I recorded a Podcast… & Tiramisu Giveaway! « Three Dresses Project

  21. Pingback: I recorded a Podcast… & Tiramisu Giveaway! « Three Dresses Project

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