Sewer vs. Sewist
This may be opening a can of worms, but I’m curious. How do Threads readers refer to themselves in terms of their sewing hobby? Are you a “sewer” or a “sewist”?
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and others, the first known use of the word “sewer” to mean “one that sews” occurred in the 14th century. Over time, a variety of terms have evolved to describe those who sew garments. Sewer remains the dominant term, but sewist (combining “sew” with “artist”) appears to be gaining popularity, especially among sewing bloggers.
It may seem like a newfangled word created merely to provide a hip label, but the earliest printed usage of sewist was in 1964 in Annals of Science, Volume 18, published by the British Society for the History of Science (although it was not used in a positive light). “Sewist” does not yet have an entry in any dictionary, but when has that prevented a word from being adopted into common usage?
Many people who sew dislike the word “sewist”. The reasons I’ve read and heard vary, but most seem to strongly believe it to be a non-word and a hack-job on the English language. But language is in a constant state of evolution. New words and terms are coined and adapted to help us describe various aspects of our rapidly expanding cultures, societies, and technologies.
Perhaps the sticking point for the anti-“sewist” sewing population is simply that a term describing people who sew is already in widespread usage. Do we need another one?
Those who prefer “sewist” might argue that they do, even if you don’t. Perhaps “sewist” infers a more contemporary approach rather than a traditional one? There is also the close resemblance in writing between “sewer” and a word of the same spelling that means “a subterranean conduit that carries off sewage.” “Sewist” at least can’t be mistaken for that word.
Luckily, there’s room for us all, whether we identify as “sewers” or as “sewists”. We all love to create through sewing.
How do you describe yourself as a person who sews and a sewing enthusiast? Are you a sewer or a sewist?
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