If you’re new to sewing, you might be wondering what to call yourself. Are you a seamstress, tailor, sewer or sewist? Or is there something else? What do you call someone who sews?
The most common term for someone who sews is “sewer.” That sounds fine when you say it out loud, but when you write it down… well, it makes you think more about a wastewater/effluent piping system (and maybe a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle) than someone who sews beautiful things.
So what are the other options?
Sewing as a Profession
If you sew as a profession, there are a few different terms that people use, each with slightly different meanings. If you are looking for a professional name as a person who sews, here are some to consider:
- Tailor is defined as “a person whose occupation is making and/or altering fitted clothes such as suits, trousers, and jackets to fit individual customers.”
- Dressmaker is a person whose job is to make women’s clothes (not just dresses).
- Couturier is a fashion designer who creates bespoke apparel tailored to a client’s specific requirements and measurements.
- Seamstress is a more general term for someone who sews, particularly professionally. It is used for people who sew decor, toys and other items as well as clothes. It suggests someone just sews seams and is not involved in the creative design or fitting process. Seamster is an archaic term (that has also been suggested in recent times) for men who sew professionally.
- Garment worker, sewing machine operator or sewing machinist are the terms used for people who sew in manufacturing or an industrial environment.
Sewing as a Hobby
The above professional terms can also be used by someone sewing at home, but they have specific meanings, and when you dabble in different types of sewing projects, they don’t always fit.
As a hobbyist, you can call yourself whatever you like. If you like to create with lots of different crafts, you might just want to call yourself a crafter or maker. If you are looking for something more sewing specific, here are a few more options:
Just like someone who dives is a diver or someone who skis is a skier, someone who sews is a a sew-er, but if you take that dash out, well, it’s a little confusing (and stinky!).
While there is the definition “a person that sews” in the dictionary for sewer, it’s not the first definition. It’s easy to say but doesn’t look so good written down and can be confusion.
“Home sewer” is possibly a bit clearer that we’re talking about someone who sews for fun or for personal needs, but some people still don’t like it.
The word sewist is gaining popularity among people describing their love of sewing, particularly among bloggers and on social media (where the word is more often written down).
According to Threads Magazine, the first appearance of the word in newspaper archives was in 1868. It started to be used more widely in the 60s, referring to someone who sews for fun, relaxation, and creativity.
Some people consider it a blend of the words “sewing” and “artist”, highlighting the creativity involved in sewing projects (rather than just the function of sewing fabric together).
But it doesn’t necessarily have an artistic meaning. The word “sewist” is just like how the suffix -ist is used in other words like harpist, cartoonist, or motorist.
Another reason it’s popular is that it’s gender-neutral (although sewer is also gender-neutral).
Stitcher can be used meaning “one who stitches”. It feels like a more old-fashioned term and more related to hand-sewing than machine sewing.
A more specific term for some sewing is embroiderer – someone who adds decorative stitching to fabric. This includes sewing by machine or hand, and can use beads, sequins, or other materials as well as thread. This can also be a profession.
A cross-stitcher is another even more specific term, for someone who sews designs made from small cross stitches.
Needlewoman and needleworker are two old-fashioned terms that could be used to describe a person who sews, particularly by hand and often for embroidery.
Quilter is a more specific term that some hobby sewists prefer to use. A quilter is someone who creates quilts by sewing together pieces of fabric. If that’s you’re preferred project, it’s common to call yourself a quilter (and maybe do a bit of other sewing on the side).
Question: If you call yourself a quilter, do you get fewer requests to hem people’s pants?
You’ve made it here as part of the Threadistry community (whether this is your first visit or you’re a long-time reader), so maybe we should call ourselves Threadists. Hmmm, I don’t think it will catch on, but you never know – maybe I’ll start a trend!
Who needs a label? Maybe instead of saying I’m a sewist/sewer/tailor or something else, you just say “I sew”. Not everything has to have a title, and anyone at any level can safely use these words.
So what should you call yourself?
Regardless of what you call yourself, sewing is a fun skill and hobby. Whether you are a beginner or have been sewing for a long time, I hope you can find the term that best represents you and your passion for sewing.
And just for a bit of fun, let me know what you call yourself in the poll below:
P.S. I call myself a sewist when I write it down but say “I sew” in person.
Now you know what to call yourself, here are some tips and tricks to improve your sewing:
- Find out how to remove creases and fold marks from fabric.
- Use these tips to keep track of which needle is in your sewing machine.
- Explore different pressing tools to add a professional finish to your projects.