Sewer, Seamstress, Sewist? Open Line Friday

Vintage Sewing, Lori Kennedy Designs

Good Morning, Quilters!

Notice how I avoid the words sewer and sewist?

Even when I write the tutorials, I avoid the word “sew” and use “stitch” instead.

I really don’t like the word “sewer” –it looks like plumbing when it’s written.

For a long time I hated the word “sewist“–it’s just a made up word–not even in the dictionary!  Furthermore, whenever you type “sewist” it auto-corrects to “sexist“….

Vintage Sewing, Lori Kennedy Designs

Saturdays were a real dilemma…

Should it be “Drain Pipes in Fine Art


Ruining the Language in Fine Art”?

I settled for the clunky,  “Seamstresses in Fine Art”

Vintage Sewing, Lori Kennedy Designs

I must admit I’m softening to the word “Sewist”…

Scissors have given way to rotary cutters, treadle machines to sewing computers, and quilters no longer create blankets made of old clothes…

Vintage Sewing, Lori Kennedy Designs

Languages evolve too!

New words like: emoji, selfie and vape (smoking an e-cigarette) have been Oxford’s Words of the Year for the past three years.

Vintage Sewing, Lori Kennedy Designs

Perhaps it’s better to be “on trend” than a “fossil”!

What do YOU think?

We’d LOVE to hear!

Happy Stitching, Tailoring, Quilting, Sewing, Vaping, Texting…


PS…The Second Annual Machine Quilt-a-Long begins next week.  If you are out shopping–just pick up 1/4 yard of solid fabric–in any shade of red, blue, turquoise…no more hints until next week!–other than it’s going to be FABULOUS!!!!

PS…All tutorials, images and information are the property of Lori Kennedy at The Inbox Jaunt and are intended for personal use only.  Feel free to re-blog, pin or share with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other purposes, please contact me at  Thanks!

101 thoughts on “Sewer, Seamstress, Sewist? Open Line Friday

  1. As an editor, “sewist” really grates on my nerves. As you said, it’s not a real word, just one people are trying to force on us. I agree with Joy. There are plenty of words in the English language that have more than one meaning, so “sewer” has never really bothered me. and the two words are pronounced differently when spoken. I doubt that plumbing and threading a needle have much in common. If that is a problem, “sew-er” might answer. But I admit that language changes, and “sewist” is probably the wave of the future, alas.
    My grandmama was a seamstress, so perhaps I’d prefer that. But I doubt my opinion will change the way words are heading.

  2. I have been sewing most of my life and I now have adult children (to give you some idea of how long). I find the word (non- word?) pretentious. Why does everyone seem to need a title? I’m “some one who sews” good enough for me. I don’t need the validation of unique adjective. Hope I haven ‘ t offended too many?

  3. For those who don’t like “sewist” because it’s new, do you use the term “internet”? In the grand scheme of the English language, it hasn’t been around that much longer, and is a manufactured term.

    I actually don’t label myself. I say I make quilts. That’s good enough.

  4. I am reading a book, The King’s Mistress, by Emma Compion, that using an old English term, sempster.

  5. My dictionary app gives this definition for seamstress:
    1.) a woman whose occupation is sewing. Also, sempstress.

    The first definition of occupation is a person’s usual or principal work or business, especially as a means of earning a living. Although a lot of us do, indeed occupy a lot of our time sewing, for many of us sewing is not our occupation. We do it as a hobby, an artful expression, for charity, and/or gift-giving. Kudos to those who can, and actually do, make a living at it. For a short time I did contract sewing in my home, making garments and accessories for people with physical disabilities. I did label myself as a sewist (same reluctance to use “sewer” as others have mentioned) but after reading these many comments in this thread, I may have to re-think that label. I am now leaning toward “textile artist” in general. Then, when I need to be more specific, I can say I am a seamstress when I am making garments and other personal accessories. When I am doing hand-work such as knitting, crocheting, or embroidering of any sort, I can say I am doing needlework. When I am joining small pieces of fabric together to make a larger assemblage, I am piecing a quilt top. When I am joining layers of fabric together with thread (either by hand or machine stitching) to make one single flat article, I am quilting. When I am mending a hole in a sock by weaving multiple threads to fill the void, I can say I am darning. Now this whole darned thread is needling me to mend my grammar and stop using a word that is non-existent.

  6. I have to admit that I still hate the word “sewist”. It seems so pretentious. It is one thing to create a new word for a new idea or new technology, such as the internet. It is something else to create a new word for something that already has a widely-accepted understanding in the language. Although there are 2 meanings for the same spelling, sewer, in the context that it is being used, the 2 words would not be misunderstood when read, and they are pronounced differently. English has several words that are pronounced the same but are spelled differently, such as made and maid, yet we understand the difference in meaning, whether read or spoken. Even the word “read” can be pronounced 2 different ways, to mean occurring in the present or in the past. I don’t believe we should be dumbing down the language just because someone suddenly noticed that 2 unrelated words in meaning were spelled the same, and that one of the words conjures up negative images.

  7. I can’t stand the term “sewist” – it strikes me as a an attempt to solve something that’s not a real problem. I’ll use “sewer” on occasion to describe what I do (“I’m a sewer”) but I really prefer “seamstress” when talking about the clothes I make and “quilter” when discussing my quilting.

  8. I’m late to the party but I’ll still chime in. I don’t like and refuse to use the word sewist!!!! I have seamstresses in my family and have seamstresses as friends and I have no skills that come close to what the term implies in my mind. I call myself a quilter and crafter. If I had to sew a shirt or pair of pants to save my life, I would have to go and join eternity! But I can find a quarter inch seam in the dark and you have never seen a finer feathered star than the one I just completed!

  9. Pingback: Second Annual Machine Quilt-a-Long–A Mystery Sampler | The Inbox Jaunt

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