Seamstress, sewist, sewer?If you frequent online sewing and craft communities or you're an avid sewing blogger, you might encounter a variety of terms used to describe the hobby. I have been visiting sewing forums for years and I've come across some interesting opinions on what one should call themselves. There are sometimes huge drawn out debates on this subject, which I feel is kind of silly, but it's clear that terminology means something to people. How you identify yourself can reveal a lot about your skill set and tastes in sewing.
SeamstressSeamstress is often defined as a woman who sews for an occupation. For this reason, I rarely use the term to describe myself. Some people believe the word seamstress literally means someone who sews, yet most dictionaries use it to describe a professional and not a hobbyist. When I've called myself a seamstress in the past, people would often assume that I make clothing for a living. It always lead to people requesting that I make them things, which drove me bat-shit. I reserve the title seamstress for people who are professionally trained, can alter and fit clothing to any body shape, and sew as an occupation. Some synonyms for seamstress are dressmaker, seamster, sempstress, and garment worker.
TailorTailor is a lot like seamstress, it describes someone who sews and alters clothing for monetary gain. It is often used to describe men who sew or someone who sews primarily men's clothing. I seldom see this term used within sewing communities, probably because it's a more professional title.
SewerPronounced "sew-er", this word literally means someone who sews. I personally cringe when I read the term sewer. It's a homograph, a word that is spelled the same but is pronounced differently and has different meanings. In this case sewer can also be read as an underground waste management channel. The sewing version of sewer isn't included in most modern dictionaries and like sewist is a slang term. There isn't anything wrong with using this word to describe yourself, however, if you're a blogger like me and have an international reader base, it might be in your best interest not to use it as web translators will probably interpret it incorrectly.
SewistSewist is a slang word that's emerged in online sewing forums and communities. The origins are hazy, but it might be a combination of the words "sew" and "artist". It's used to describe someone who sews leisurely and for themselves and/or their families. Sewist is the term I identify with most often. The reason for this is because it has a more relaxed definition; I feel it can apply to someone who might sew occasionally or is just starting out, or sews for the sake of pleasure. That describes me perfectly. I mostly sew for myself and for fun. I realize this term is abhorred by grammar nazis, usually the older generations, but the English language is meant to evolve. We sure as hell aren't speaking the same way as we were 500 years ago, so sewist is here to stay!
ConclusionIn writing I find myself using the words seamstress and sewist interchangeably. Due to the language barrier it might be better for me to continue using seamstress but I worry it gives off the impression that I'm more experienced and professional than I actually am lol (and it would be very apparent in my garments *blush*).
Which is the term you choose to identify with most often and why?