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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Stitches, a sewing podcast- Steam episode 1.2

Now for the latest installment of Stitches, episode 1.2, the final episode in our little series on steam. If you missed the first episode, catch it hereStitches- Steam episode 1.2

I promise I’ll be on itunes soon. For now, give your browser a moment to load the podcast widget & if it’s still having trouble reload the page. You can also check out the Stitches podcast on podomatic.


Here are the show notes:

  • A common way to steam shrink wool is by hand with an iron, a steam brush, or a steamer. But, this takes a long time & can produce uneven results.
  • I searched the Internet for a quicker way to steam shrink wool & found a great tip from Pam of Off The Cuff, a tailoring blog with a store attached that sells high quality interfacing. She said to toss the fabric in the dryer with a slightly damp towel or two & let it spin! The steam that’s released from the towels as the dryer heats up will be just enough to shrink the wool. It might seem sacrilegious to put wool in the dryer, but since you’re putting the fabric in dry & not using soap it won’t shrink down to a tiny piece of felt.
  • Next was a review for the Smartek st-80n 3-in-1 steam brush. It’s small, has three different attachments & is available in Joann & Hancock Fabric stores in the US. Unfortunately, it spurted out white puffs of powder onto what I was trying to steam. They eventually went away, but came back when I tried to steam again.
  • Another way to steam garments is to put them in your shower. Hang up the wrinkly (or stinky) garment in the bathroom as you bathe & the wrinkles will smooth out. If the garment is especially wrinkly or stinky it may take a few showers to clear things up, but some only need as few as one or two sessions.
  • Clothing steam presses have two large irons that clap down on your fabric & emit a bunch of steam. This makes pressing quick work. Some are even electronically programmed & automatically turn off so you don’t burn your fabric.
  • The Reliable company builds vacuums right into their ironing boards & calls the product the ‘vacuum + blowing table‘. They claim that getting the steam out of the fabric is just as important as getting it in & that in ye olden days people would beat their fabric with sticks to get the steam out. Not only do these ironing boards suck the steam out, they also blow air through the garment, inflating parts of it so you can iron right on top of a pocket of air.
  • Pam also provided us with a little sewing trivia: “Did you know that in the “garment industry”, they apply interfacing with a dry-press rolling machine, that applies the interfacing to the fabric with much more consistent pressure and generally higher temperatures than can be achieved at home?  That is why most interfacing on the market today for those who sew at home is instructed to be applied with steam….steam is hotter that than the temperature of the sole-plate of an average iron, and as it shoots out of the holes in the iron it actually increases the pressure needed to create and hold the bond between the fusible interfacing and the fabric!”
  • Rachel from the blog House of Pinheiro said:  “Pressing is the most important process step to create a garment that looks well made, so my tip for pressing is you should avoid resting the weight of the iron on the fabric and let steam do the job, however sometimes that’s not enough to avoid impression marks, so what I do is get a strip of paper (better if doesn’t have anything printed on it) and position that between the seam and the garment. In most cases it will avoid leaving a mark on the right side.” This prevents exactly the problem I talked about in the first episode of Steam.

What would you like the next episode of the Stitches podcast to be on? Cutting things? Semi-synthetic fibers like rayon? Different kinds of pins? What other ideas do you have? Leave me a comment below. Hope you enjoyed this episode & see you next time!

Stitches, a Sewing Podcast – Steam episode 1.1

I’m as excited as if I had received free vintage fabric! But I haven’t.

The thing that’s got me dancing around the house is a podcast. I’m starting one!
Stitches, a sewing podcast - Steam episode 1.1
Stitches in a podcast for people who love to sew, with a tiny bit of knitting thrown in. It’s for people who have an interest in fashion & an addiction to fibers- as in fabric, yarn, wool, cotton, linen.  And yes, I too am surprised that a few searches turned up no other programs named ‘Stitches’.

Stitches isn’t like your usual crafting podcast. I won’t be talking about the projects on my sewing table or knitting needles. Instead, we’ll have conversations about sewing related themes.  And episodes won’t be a half an hour long or more. We don’t always have time to listen to such long podcasts- especially not when there are new episodes of Downton Abbey to watch! Instead, monthly topics will be broken into a few 5-10 minute long episodes.

Our first theme is steam & I really hope you enjoy it. Down below you’ll find some podcast notes for an easy reference to the tips I talked about- or for if you’re at work & can’t listen.

*update- I just realized that some people might have problems loading the podcast widget thingie. If so, just refresh your page or click here to listen to my podcast on PodOmatic.

  • Steam is made up of excited water molecules that relax your fabric & make it more pliable.
  • It can help smooth out you fabric or warp it out of shape.
  • Torquing happens when fabric is warped out of shape during manufacturing, but you can also do it at home.
  • Pants pockets can warp out of shape with use. To help reinforce them make stay tape by cutting a strip of muslin the width of your seam allowance & steam it a lot as you pull it out from under your iron at an angle. This will torque the fabric into a curve that should match the curve of your pants pockets.
  • Steam especially relaxes & shrinks wool.
  • To unkink yarn after it’s been knit or crocheted with, steam it. Don’t iron it. It will relax before your eyes like magic. Watch this video from the awesome TECHknitting blog to see how quickly it happens.  
  • To keep wool fabric from stretching as it hung off my ironing board I tried ironing on top of a wooden table with a mattress pad covering the table to protect it from the iron. I didn’t realize the bottom of the mattress pad was made with interfacing & not fabric. After I was done bits of interfacing were stuck in the wood grain of the table, but only in blotches where I had steamed. Water wouldn’t get it off so I scratched it off with my finger nails. I scratched little butterflies into the interfacing marks.
  • Next time I will make my ironing board the same height as my table so that as I’m ironing I can move the finished parts to the table so they don’t stretch out of shape.
The little butterfly I scratched out of the interfacing that got steamed into my sewing desk.
The little butterfly I scratched out of the interfacing that got steamed into my sewing desk.

Episode two of Stitches will talk more about interfacing, steam shrinking wool, steam related sewing gadgets & listener tips.

A HUGE humongous thanks to my boyfriend Quincy. He spent tons of time sampling the introduction music (while I lounged in bed knitting) & editing the final podcast. And re-editing as I kept re-recording. Thanks Q!

And thanks to everyone who took the time to listen. I’d love to hear any feedback, good or bad. Do you like the topic & format? What themes would you like to hear about next month?

The blobs of interfacing that were steamed into my desk.
The blobs of interfacing that were steamed into my desk.