I have been sewing since I was two. Mind you, I wasn’t making clothing or craft projects. According to my mother, I would sit with buttons, needle, thread, and a scrap of fabric and attach buttons to my heart’s delight. I don’t remember this as I was so very young, so I will take mom’s word for it. After all, she is a fairly reliable source…
I do remember that for a time in the early 80s I had a brown paper grocery bag filled with mom’s scraps and I was on a mission to make a crazy quilt. Did I know what I was doing? No. Mom would have scraps from seed sacks, broad cloth, velvet, seersucker, various cottons, and who-knows-what-else. I would gather together every piece I could find and with my needle and thread, red as I remember, sewing piece after piece together. I was going to make a crazy quilt. I used every stitch that I had ever seen and a few that I made up. It took me months to create a section that was roughly 12” wide and 14” tall and it was a huge triangle with tails hanging off all three corners. Of course I didn’t use a pattern, who needs patterns or directions? Not me. I had no idea what I had gotten into. Finally, one day I tired of the project declared it finished and promptly gave it to the dog to sleep on (I think).
Ok, that was a nice trip down memory lane but back to my main point. I was reading a friend’s blog yesterday and she referred to her dad as a seamster, which I felt it was my duty to point out was not a correct term, but rather it would more correct to refer to him as a tailor. Boy was I wrong! I got an e-mail about a follow up comment. Below is a copy of the comment from Chrissi:
"Well, um errr not to get too technical but you weren't really totally brain cramped Daph :D
A tailor, a seamster, and a sartor are correct terms. Funny thing is "tailor" is defined as "a person" and not specifically a gal or guy. It appears only seamstress is gender specific, so go figure! lol :)"
So now my curiosity got the better of me. I had to check this out. I logged on to google and to dictionary.com. I typed in the words tailor, seamster, and sartor. These are actual words and they are correct to use.
- Tailor – a person whose occupation is the making, mending, or altering of clothes, esp. suits, coats, and other outer garments.
- Seamster – a person whose occupation is sewing; tailor. (This one really blew my mind. I still haven't collected all the pieces yet. Oops! There's another piece.)
- Sartor - a person whos occupation is making and altering garments. (I had never heard of this one.)
Definitions from dictionary.com accessed on 03/04/2009.
Notice each definition is gender neutral. The only one that I found that referred to a gender was seamstress. Other than that every other term could be used for either male or female.
Several years ago while cutting fabric for a high school girl, she referred to me as a seamster. I corrected her. A man should be called a tailor. I was thinking to myself, “Seamster!? That’s not even a word.” Wrong again, but hey those are the only two times in my life that I have ever been wrong. (LOL)
According to further information given in the definitions the term seamster is a Middle English word. Translation – the term seamster has been in use for a very long time.
So Daphne, I do apologize. You were correct to call your father a seamster. But I think that I would call your father a universal man given the list of things that he can do.