Who We Are: Left-Handed Sewists

Who We Are — Left-handed sewists graphic

We loved reading all of your comments on our recent post from a left-handed sewist! In this post, we are bringing you some more insights from members of our community who wrote in. It’s always neat to see commonalities and differences between sewists!

First up, Tanita!

Tanita poses in a crisp white button-down shirt and dark trousers.

Growing up as a lefty in a right-handed world is hard. You may not realise it but scissors, machinery, peelers, serrated knives, etc., are all designed for right-handed people. I started sewing as a young child because I come from a family of (right-handed) sewers. Because our family did not know any difference, I initially used right-handed or “ambidextrous” scissors for both sewing and paper. This was inherently difficult because when you use those scissors with your left hand, you can’t see the line you are supposed to be cutting on, and it can cause the material to fold rather than cut. A number of years later I managed to find left-handed scissors, first for sewing and then for paper. this made the cutting out journey so much easier! Since then I’ve also got a rotary cutter that could be left-handed but am still looking for thread snips/embroidery scissors.

So how, other than scissors, has being left-handed affected my sewing? I really think it doesn’t affect it much. I always pin parallel rather than perpendicular to my fabric because it’s easier to remove with my left hand, and I wouldn’t use clips for the same reason. Regardless I am glad that being left-handed doesn’t really impact my ability to sew!

Tanita has been sewing since she was a child before starting sewing clothes again in earnest 3 years ago. She lives in Tasmania, Australia and can be found on Instagram at @sewtanita.

Claire says,

A collage of two images. On the left, a doll vest, laid out with a pattern piece and fabric for making a coordinating doll skirt. On the right, Claire poses with her baby son.

I’m left-handed, and so was my mother. She taught me how to sew before she died when I was 13. I always was proud that I am left-handed like she was, but her passing I think made that feeling even stronger. Growing up, she made our Halloween costumes. She sewed on an old Singer machine that only had one stitch setting by the time I got to it. I still have that machine. But I remember learning from her how to thread the little plastic bobbins that came apart at the center. I remember when we would go to Hancock Fabrics and spend hours in there playing amongst the fabric and flipping through Simplicity patterns.

Most important to me is that I still have the pattern and cut out fabric from one of the last projects that we started together — now 20 years ago. It was a vest and skirt for my American Girl doll, Kirsten. I managed to make the vest but never did complete the skirt. I’m so glad I kept this for so many years. I don’t think I’ll ever actually complete it.

I was born and raised in Georgia, but have also called DC and now Denver home. I grew up watching my mother sew our Halloween costumes and cocktail dresses for herself. Her mother, my grandmother, sewed all of her children’s clothes and, so far, every wedding dress on our side of the family, including mine. You can follow my sewing adventures @claire_crafted on Instagram.  Photo is me with my greatest creation to date — my son.

Elaine says,

Elaine poses against a wall, wearing a red-violet floral button-down dress.

I’m a left-handed sewist, taught by a right-handed mother. I’ve been sewing for around 50 years now (gulp!), so I’ve probably got used to working around any problems.The two things I really couldn’t do without are my left-handed tape-measure (sadly no longer available) and my left-handed scissors. Although I’ve got some, I’ve never really got on with true left-handed scissors, where the blades are the other way round (there are pictures of this in my blog post about left-handed sewing, Left-handed sewing). Rotary cutters with ergonomic handles are always designed for right-handers, but fortunately I can use the type with symmetrical handles without problems.

One big advantage of being left-handed is that unless you live with another leftie, you don’t have to worry about other people using your fabric scissors as general scissors — win!

I live in the UK, and my sewing tends towards vintage looks from various eras, with a worrying soft spot for 1970s Style patterns. I blog at Black Tulip.

Last but not least, Mary!

Mary stands in a garden, wearing a navy blue dress with contrasting stripes-and-floral sleeves and trim.

My name is Mary, and when I’m not actually sewing I’m mostly dreaming of my next project. That can be a bit awkward when I’m at work! I’m a proud left-handed creative.

What’s it like to be left-handed? Honestly I get asked this quite a bit! The answer? I don’t know! You see, I’ve always been left-handed, so I don’t know what it’s like to NOT be left-handed! What I do know is that I totally embrace being left-handed, it is part of what makes me ME! I’m proud of it, I like being a bit different. I’m not so keen on being told I’m weird. Maybe I am, but not because I’m left-handed! I certainly don’t see myself as afflicted in any way. In the great scheme of things, being left-handed is a minor inconvenience at times.

At primary school I struggled a little with learning creative tasks including writing and knitting from right-handed people, but over time I learnt my own way of doing things. I have heard that left-handed people are more creative. I couldn’t say if it’s nature or nurture that makes me sew, but I know I love it! It seems to me that sewing machines feel like they were designed by a left-handed person, they feel so intuitive to use. All that space at my left side, room to pull my pins out as I’m sewing and using my left hand to guide the fabric. I also wonder if being left-handed was helpful in threading the machine needles (before auto threaders,) I can see a right hand finding it a squeeze getting at the right angle.

When I watch online tutorials for new techniques I immediately notice if the person is left- or right-handed; I bet that would never occur to a right-handed person. When I was organising the Bombazine Mitt Swap at Christmas it occurred to me that we might be decorating the mitt on only one side, which would obviously be for a right-handed person. My co-organisers hadn’t thought of that, so I mentioned it in a post on Instagram and a number of people responded positively.  I do find left-handed tools such as scissors more comfortable and I love that my husband is often the source of left-handed gadgets for me! I’ve even seen a left-handed ruler, who’d have even thought! I am definitely indebted to clever inventors who recognized I needed a certain tool before I knew it. Does being left-handed stop me from sewing or achieving anything? No, never!

Find Mary on Instagram as @marythimble !

Did you learn something new? I know I did — I never considered that we should own left-handed scissors for my left-handed husband! Nor, apparently, did he. Thanks for opening our eyes to new options, everyone!