I’ve been quite confused lately. I’ve always used the term seamstress up until lately when a dear friend of mine once told me she got offended by the term. I was SHOCKED. Why? Oh, why she might be offended by this title. After all, this is what she does. This is her job, her passion, her way to earn her living. She said it was gender suggesting, and a gender neutral term is more appropriate.
My thoughts started wandering which one would be more appropriate. Sewer maybe? I’ve always hated that term due to its second meaning. How could I say “I am a sewer” or ask someone if he is a sewer. Taken out of the context it sounds… horrible to say at least.
With all the terms we can use, it is a little daunting. Sewer, seamstress, sewist, tailor, fashion designer, quilter, stitcher. They all vary a little and different people prefer different terms to describe them. Let’s take a quick rundown how each term is different from the others in the unlikely bid to reach a consensus to find a favorite.
Seamstress – probably the most widely used term is most suitable for women who sew professionally. However, as my friend pointed it is a bit sexist and implies gender.
Sewer – the second most used term sounds like drainage and for me personally, when taken out of context is first associated with plumbing and sewage. Unless put in an appropriate context, it sounds odd and outright insulting.
Tailor – the person (man or woman) who is making, mending or altering clothes, implies using a sewing machine for making clothes
Stitcher – again, gender neutral is the person who performs the final steps of assembling the garment, usually by hand needling
Quilter – this is more specific term and only refers to those of us who are making quilts. Definitely cannot be used to describe people who sew as a whole.
Sewist – is my favorite term, and although it is not a dictionary word, I prefer it over the others as it is a combination of my two words in life – sew and artist. Or me personally sewing is a form of art. As someone who has never sew in a factory, sewing is passion. A way to show my emotions and express my feelings. A way to be different from the streamlined fashion. A way to look however I like. I simply love matching fabrics and choosing patterns.
Other sewing titles that are not that popular include quilt artist, fabric artist, crafter, maker or even a sewing enthusiast. Some people like those terms, but for me, those don’t catch the essence of our work properly.
I’d love to hear what do you like to call yourselves. Do you have another favorite title? Does it matter? Which one actually describes you best?