Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sewing Malapropisms, huh?



My sewing friend, Jerry, recently posted on facebook a topic that brought many many responses. Jerry is ready to sink her needles into making an heirloom Christening gown, and like all things Jerry, she is fastidiously researching  before making her first stitch. Jerry's post let us know that she was pretty aggravated at finding directions for gowns discussing "yolks", not "yokes". Seems teachers/designers often don't know the difference between eggs and baby clothing. There were numerous instances found in her research.

Well, Jerry hit a nerve.  I grew up with a Mom who was constantly correcting grammar way into her dotage.  Spelling was something we were expected to excel at and pretty much did. I hear things like this and it just fries me. I have my own list of malapropisms. Yup, there is even a word for it. Per Dictionary.com malapropism means:
"an act or habit of misusing words ridiculously, especially by the confusion of words that are similar in sound." 

That certainly fits the bill! Thanks to Jerry's commentors here are a few of the major sewing malapropisms, starting with my personal favorite:
Muslim,  which should be muslin. 
Waste,  which should be waist.

Salvage, which should be selvedge.
Embroidery,  which should be embroider. Embroidery is NOT  a verb, people! 
Pressure foot, which is a presser foot.
Pressure foot and presser foot, which should be foot pedal. The presser foot is what you lower to make your machine engage and stitch. It is not the foot pedal on the floor that you press on to "give it the gas".

Found this one on a blog tonight:  Wardrobe Stable, which should be wardrobe staple. Staples are basic items. Stables are places for horses. 
Sister Mary Hortense sends one hard clap on the knuckles with a ruler to all who use these sewing malapropisms and considers them corrected. They will henceforth go into the sewing world with full knowledge of their sins, never to recommit them again.

This post is meant with the best of comical intentions and is no judgement on those who use them. Just keep sewing and call it whatever works for you. Just watch out for my Mom and Sister Mary Hortense. They have no mercy. 

Can you add to this list?

Thanks, Jerry for letting me riff on your topic here on the blog.





65 comments:

  1. I have a question! How the hell is "drapey/drapy" spelled? As in, I bought some nice rayon knit to make a loose, drapey/drapy tee?" Please help me!

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    1. This fabric is...drapey, drapier, drapiest...
      Hope that helps. :)

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  2. I commented to a daily sewing blogger this week on the switching between peek and peak in the "sneak peek" of tomorrow's topic that features on her blog. Some days it was spelled one way, some days the other. Though not strictly a sewing term it was driving me nuts anyway. You hit most of my bugaboos. Thanks.

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  3. Gillian, I think that would be "loose, draped tee". I am not an expert, however. My personal pet peeve (and I have found it to be a regional misuse) is the incorrect use of bring and take.

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  4. My pet peeve is using loose instead of lose, or the reverse, as in I need to loose weight. Drives me nuts. I know it isn't a sewing malapropism, but you see this a lot on sewing blogs,

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  5. What image flashes through your mind when you see "arm scythe"?

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    1. Texas chain saw massacre?

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    2. Too funny, Bunny! But I know what you mean about the spelling errors; they drive me nuts. It seems the younger generation can't be bothered with learning correct grammar, or even, as another of your readers pointed out, consistency in their (mis)spelling!

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    3. Perhaps a sequel to Edward Scissorhands?

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    4. American kids are taught to read and spell phonetically. They don't learn the proper spelling or use. Got to love progressive education.

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  6. For Jerry, Please note The Old Fashioned Baby pattern line. Expert advice on hand sewing and christening gowns. For grammar, see any nun:)) Darby

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    1. Your response is absolutely hilarious! That is the funniest thing I have read in a very long time!

      On a more serious note...
      i am glad the author made a statement in small print at the end of her article stating that the article was intended for fun only and did not reflect the passing of judgement on any individual. I write this because stitchers come from many varied backgrounds. The woman who did some of the most beautiful hand embroidery and tatting I have ever seen was barely literate. She had learned all her skills by watching another skilled craftswoman. Her work was museum quality though.
      Some of the arts and particularly the finer points of those arts would be lost forever if those less well educated people were too shy to share their knowledge with us because of fear their language would become a subject of mirth.

      With all that out of the way, there are several other things to remember. (1) Language is ever changing i.e. "arm's eye" becomes "armscye". (2) spelling is just a convention. It is something the majority have agreed to do a certain, uniform way. If the language doesn't conform to the convention, then it is technically "wrong." However, if the meaning is understood by the recipient of the communication, is it really wrong? Annoying, perhaps, but wrong???
      Transliteration; the changing of the alphabet used to write something in one language as opposed to another has resulted in people who were family members that came through immigration at different times having their names spelled as differently as Wong and Huang.
      A third thing to consider is that shifting for our "written" communication from a handwriting society to a typing society has resulted in some fallout. It is more difficult to make "typos" if one is writing by hand.

      Having said all that, I get annoyed as anyone else when I come across something that makes me lose confidence in the qualifications of someone who is telling me how to do something in which I will invest a great deal of time.

      Bottom Line - communication is not easy and has never been so. Keep sewing; keep reading; keep your sense of humor.

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    2. Shirley Stanley, I so agree with all of your points. Thank you so much for reminding me, particularly about people whose literacy is lacking but their skill in some area is expert.

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  7. Replies
    1. Guilty as charged! Thanks for the correction! I will leave it in just to show I'm human like the rest of us.

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  8. Funniest thing I've read in a good, long while!

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  9. At first, I thought you meant they were using egg yolks somehow to stiffen the fabric... Nope. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt first. And, my pet peeves are more visual offenses rather than written ones.

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  10. Please Sister Mary Hortense, have mercy on us non native speakers blogging in English!

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    1. You are forgiven, I'm sure! Sr. Mary Hortense was my tenth grade English lit teacher and she was Oxford educated and brilliant, something we never appreciated at the time. We did appreciate her passion for correct grammar and the fact that a run on sentence would give you an automatic flunk for the semester! Did I just run on too much?

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  11. When trolling through Craigslist for craft items I regularly see "sowing machine for sale" and "tayloring items" and have a laugh. I remember nuns and rulers and rosary beads used as weapons!

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  12. I supposed it was caused by the difference in time and location. Books I've been reading recently refer to 'plaites'. Judging by the context, I assume it to mean 'pleats'.

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    1. It could be a Louisiana French thing but growing up hair braids were always called "plaits". Would that make sense in the context of your reading? I can remember my grandmother saying, "come here so I can plait your hair."

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    2. This is soooooo funny. I've been known to correct spelling errors on Twitter. And yes, I think it is the result of our education. When I came upon your post I had just finished reading a couple of other blogs. Peak for peek appeared and another egregious error which I won't repeat for fear of embarrassing the author. My husband and I were laughing at my propensity for focusing on these lovelies and presto. Egg yolks! Beautiful.

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    3. I do have to say that there is something subconscious that seems to happen when I type. I type very fast and as I am thinking one word in my mind my fingers type out another as in the peak for peek situation. This happens a lot and is clearly the result of mindless writing. I always proofread my posts but it's like you are blind to the misspelling because it doesn't have that red line underneath. The word is spelled correctly, but used improperly. Again, I think a lot of it is unconscious and just flows from the fingers, not the brain.

      Here's a thought - would you , any of you, correct someone's instructions or blogpost if you see one of these malapropisms, particularly if it was used in the title?

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    4. I did once send a blogger a private email to point out the difference between yolk and yoke. Embarrassing someone isn't helpful, but really a yolk on your dress would be messy.

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  13. Not sewing related, but I see it OFTEN on sewing blogs--using THEN when it should be THAN. Drives me nuts!

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    1. That would bug me more often THAN not, LOL!

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    2. Arrrrrgh! That one drives me nuts also!
      Another one is interchanging their, there and they're. I see it a lot!!
      To me, I just think that if one is going to write a blog post, they should either a) Carefully proof read, or b) Don't author a blog!!!
      And I'm not talking about the occasional typo or goof-up, (we're all human - I'm a terrible speller myself, so if I'm not sure about a word, I always check it - it's really quite easy these days, especially when one is already USING a computer!!!) I'm talking about when one posts two or three mistakes per blog post on a consistent basis.

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  14. As an addendum, Patricia T. O"Conner has written several books and blog entries. She has appeared on Leonard Lopate on NPR, too. She corrected a mistake I had made over a lifetime, spelling dilemma "dilemna." We wondered between us if parochial school had somehow been at the base of this.

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  15. Seem rippers bug the heck out of me, so does the use of quite in place of quiet. Not sewing, but just a couple of days ago I got in a bit of a pickle. We have a work computer tower that has a sticky note on the side which reads "virtural machine." It's been there since before I started working. I was talking to an IT person who came over to fix some things, and said "someday I'm going to correct the spelling on that stupid note." She said "thanks, that's my handwriting." :p K

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  16. Preceding the word "pedal" with the word "foot". A pedal is something operated by the foot. People who live in glass houses...

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Had a spelling error in my first reply! So rewrote.

      "Interesting. That's what I have heard it called all my life by others who sew. Maybe it's a regional thing. Or, could it be that my first sewing machine, which I had for years had a knee pedal? Loved that knee pedal. I'm sticking with foot pedal. Having had two different types of pedals in my sewing history, I need to differentiate. "

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    3. Good answer! Although the one operated by your knee could not, by definition, have been a pedal. The etymology is the same a pedicure (but not the same as pedant!).

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  17. On a similar note, have you noticed how many people are saying "you" when they should be saying "I"? For example, an interviewer asks the question: How did you feel when that happened to you?". The answer will often be something like, "You feel so helpless". HUH?!! Has the world gone nuts? This answer implies the interviewer was there and HE felt helpless...drives me nuts!

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    1. People can be uncomfortable owning up to their feelings and this may be a way to diffuse a bit of that discomfort. Any psychoanalysts out there?

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    2. Hmm, I've always thought it was a remarkably courteous response to the idiotic and intrusive question of our time: "How did you feel when (insert personal tragedy here) happened?" Rather than the possible responses of "how the heck do you think I feel?" or "get out of my face with your microphone and insensitive questions", responding with "you feel ...." seems like a gentle way of trying to engage the interviewer's humanity.

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  18. Bunny, a very good way to proofread for correctly spelled but incorrect use of words is to read the paragraph or sentence backwards. Years ago a boss taught me that. He said it slows down the eye enough that the brain will engage and "see" the error. I proved it once when a contractor friend of mine challenged me to count the number of "e's" printed on the back of a pack of Camel cigarettes and was surprised when I did (something like 32). I had to fess up and tell him how I did it.
    Theresa in Tucson

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    1. That's pretty cool. Can't wait to try it.

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    2. Not sewing related, but my biggest peeve is spelling "a lot" as one word. NO! No! No!

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  19. theresa, thanks for that tip! I can't tell you how many times I've proofread my own work and then published it to my blog or posted it to FB, only to see afterward that it had that kind of error. In my case, it's almost always a typo (as Bunny indicated.....my brain knows, but my fingers don't.) And Bunny, I would never correct someone's blog in the comments---that is just rude---but I have been known to send a very kindly-worded private e-mail to help them along. My pet peeve is not regarding a sewing term, but commonly used in blogs (Pinterest abounds with it)--people typing "wa la" when they mean to use the French word, "voila." I've even seen "voile-la" which is closer, but still wrong, and "viola," which is, of course, a musical instrument. I realize I'm in the minority caring about these things (at least my grown son tells me so) so I try to be kind. It's like chalk on a blackboard, though, to some of us.

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    1. Wa-La drives me nuts. Thanks for bringing this one up!

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    2. I had no idea what people were trying to say with Wa-La. Thanks.

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  20. Bunny I too get annoyed by misspellings and the general mangling of the language. I chalk most of it up to our need to post as quickly as possible. It may be that we leave our brains in neutral to often when sitting before our computer screens.

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  21. I had to chuckle over this one. I am a monumental sticker for correct grammar and spelling, thanks to many years of Catholic school, K-12 and then college! I even correct columns in the local newspaper and really fear for the preservation of correct spelling and grammar if our local newspaper columns from young writers are any inkling of their basic knowledge. I love the tee shirt and sweatshirt that state: "I am the grammarian about whom your mother warned you". Please tell your friend that about 2 years ago, I made a complete Christening ensemble from a wedding gown and used a 1967 McCalls Christening pattern. It is written up on my blog. I truly believe Christening gowns are my favorite thing to make.

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  22. It's not sewing related, but it drives me crazy when people misuse 'affect' and 'effect'. I'm also a stickler when it comes to grammar and spelling, I'll never stop spelling out each and every word when I send text messages! I end up sending full paragraphs!

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  23. Not sewing related but the misuse of "its" and "it's" is the one that makes me cringe.

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    1. That's a tough one. I always thought the apostrophe meant posession and it could also mean "it is". Which is correct? I really would like to know. Thanks.

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    2. Sister Dolores and her pitch pipe smacking my knuckles has made me a life long grammar corrector. I have been known to change signs in stores. I stopped watching a youtube vid when the woman kept saying the only rules in sewing are there are no rules, and close enough is good enough. Now I know the sewing police aren't going to come and get me for being off a 1/16th of an inch, but come on. Close enough is good enough? I didn't even wait to see the finished product.

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    3. Bunny: I will reply to your inquiry. "Its" (without the apostrophe) is the possessive. The apostrophe in this case indicates a missing letter (or two), creating a contraction. Therefore, "it's" is the contraction of "it is".

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    4. If you need help remembering the correct usage, try taping this sentence to your computer: "It's a wise dog that scratches its own fleas." This example is from Strunk and White's "Elements of Style," and is my favorite way to remember this rule.

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  24. "Loose" for "lose". Not just a sewing malapropism, but I see it so often, I could cry.

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  25. I had a sewing friend who said crouch instead of crotch! It absolutely drove me nuts!

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  26. Great post Bunny! Spelling errors, misplaced apostrophes, weird grammar and malapropisms drive me crazy. I'm one of those people that shouts at the TV every time a reporter mixes up 'bought' and 'brought'.... argggh!

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  27. English is not my first language, I have to watch my grammar when I type. I would like to think of it as learning process. However, I wanted to point out that "selvedge" is correct British spelling, in the US it seems you are more likely to see "selvage".

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    1. I always use selvedge. I would think it is the proper spelling here in the US as well.

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  28. Oh my gosh, this is too funny! I am constantly correcting my children's grammar. My youngest hates it. My dd loved it in high school and college. My pet peeve is using anxious when it should be eager. Anxious means worried or uneasy. So are you really anxious to see your children after a long absence or are you eager? I guess it depends on whether or not you like them. LOL I am usually eager. And I am always confused on effect vs affect. I don't think I ever get that one right.

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  29. How about "sheering" for shirring? I've heard this on television programs too many times!

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  30. Have always been very annoyed by the loose/lose confusion already mentioned here by others, but one thing that does really irk me is the way people say they 'could care less' when they mean 'couldn't care less'. The former suggests you care somewhat (as it is possible to 'care less'), the latter implies that you care not at all (as it is not possible to care any less than you do)....

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