What is a ‘sew bro’, and are more men really taking up sewing?

What is a ‘sew bro’, and are more men really taking up sewing?

New stories from the lockdown period suggest men around the world have been using free time to challenge traditional attitudes toward sewing.

Lockdown has provided countless people with valuable time to take up a new craft and unearth their creative side. Since lockdown began, google searches for ‘sewing machines’ rose by 400 per cent in the US, and retailer John Lewis have reported that sewing machine sales rose by 127 per cent over April. 

Jeff Fuller, Vice President of marketing for Tacony Corporation, said: “The sewing fervor really erupted in April, almost immediately after the CDC said everyone should wear face masks.

"It was a Friday when the new guidelines were announced. By Monday, we saw the largest spike in sewing machine demand we've ever seen.”

But it’s not just women taking up the needle and thread during lockdown. Multiple stories have emerged confirming that we may be experiencing a rise in men learning - and loving - to sew.

According to Merchant & Mills, a sewing emporium in Sussex, UK, more men than ever are sewing. They reported that they received a month’s worth of orders each day at the beginning of lockdown, a large majority of which were for men’s workwear patterns.

Then, take this article from Esquire. It tells the stories of ‘sew bros’ finding new joy in their projects during the pandemic, including 23-year-old Jonathan Simanjuntak, who raided thrift shops for bargain fabrics and created his own Dickies-inspired work jacket.

Simanjuntak uploaded photos of his creation to the popular sewing community on Reddit, where it immediately became one of the most popular posts on the page which is usually “almost entirely dominated by dresses”.

But why has sewing been considered a female-dominated craft for so long? In the same article, Esquire suggest that “the history of the sewing machine is bound in misogyny – a depressing totem of how emancipation and oppression can intertwine.”

Although the invention of the sewing machine in the 19th century was a breakthrough time saver, “the major beneficiaries turned out to be factory owners”, who were male.

“The industry’s pitiful wages were compounded by the fact that men, who controlled the bespoke tailoring trade, blocked women from joining their trade unions.”

Hopefully, the more modern stories coming out of lockdown suggest that the future of sewing will be enjoyed equally by men and women alike.

Men who want to learn more about the craft can check out the resources below.

Dudecraft - a male owned and operated blog covering many different types of crafts including sewing.

Manbroidery - another useful blog written by a male embroiderer.

Mr X Stitch - a website set up by a male crafter hoping to inspire others and bring cross stitch and embroidery to a new audience.

Male Pattern Boldness - self proclaimed as ‘the world's most popular male sewing blog’, these guys feature mostly vintage patterns and machines.  

For a wide range of sewing patterns, fabrics and haberdashery supplies for your new or existing project, visit our online store.

Susan Stevenson
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