A Woman Who Sews

What am I? There are all these words to describe people who sew. Tailor, dressmaker, sewist. What is it I do, exactly?

I looked at the definition of these words before adding a few adjectives to my blog recently. A few people out there have talked about this already, but I wanted to add my 2¢. (Incidentally, I recently learned that it costs 2¢ to make a penny. Talk about inflation.)

Here are a few of those articles/blogs:

Seamstress: a woman who sews, especially as a job. This term defines only a woman who sews; the male counterpart is “seamster”. The word seems antiquated, but I actually like it! The word has been in use since the 16th century.

Dressmaker: a person who makes women’s clothes. In use since the 19th century.

Tailor: a person whose occupation is making or altering outer garments. However, this term used to define only a man who made or altered garments with the female version being “tailoress”. Tailoress sounds odd. I guess that’s why it was changed. In use since the 13th century.

Clothier: one that makes or sells clothing or cloth. Nope, that’s not me. Yet. This word has been used since the 14th century.

Couturier: an establishment engaged in couture, or one who designs for or owns such an establishment. First used in the late 19th century. Sounds complicated. And French.

Sewer: one that sews. In use since the 14th century. The problem with this word is that is has too many denotations, with the most popular referring to the place where sewage exists. Sounds gross. I know a lot of people use this one, though.

Sewist: one who sews. This one has recently crept into greater use in the blogosphere. Perhaps it is meant to be gender neutral? hipsterish? I’m not sure. It’s not even a real word. I personally don’t like it. The first documented use of the word was in the 1960s.

I chose seamstress or dressmaker to describe myself. I particularly like seamstress, even though it does sound outdated. I have a romantic vision of myself as a Victorian seamstress with lovely dresses in the shop window in London. Here is seamstress translated into many different languages.  Maybe I’ll go with syerske.

Antique Singer Sewing Machine
Antique Singer Sewing Machine

One thought on “A Woman Who Sews

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  1. Who would have thought that there would be so many words to describe one thing? Actually, that’s not too shocking given the English language. I first learned to sew through 4-H when I was little. I learned to make dresses and bags, so maybe I’m a “Clothier?”

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