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Saturday, 9 September 2017

What's Up With "Grandma"?

What is the appeal behind "grandma" sewing projects??
In late July, I sent this message to AllFreeSewing, after suffering through many, many months of latent curiosity... LOL!

"Just wondering about something. I've been a subscriber to the Sewing it Up newsletter for some time now and am curious as to why there are so many mentions of "grandma" in those newsletters. Is it something on trend that I'm not aware of that people are attracted to "grandma" styles and projects?? I can't imagine young sewers clicking on them when I (in my 50s) don't tend to click on them. So I'm just curious if someone is specifically doing this as some sort of marketing strategy."

I'm not sure what I expected in return — perhaps some revelation that would educate me? — but I did get a response to my inquiry.

Reply from AllFreeSewing
AllFreeSewing's reply to my query...

Did it satisfy my curiosity? Sadly, no, unless I get invited to that next quarterly innovation meeting.

So I'm asking all of you for elucidation. Are you drawn to sewing projects and patterns (or anything else, for that matter) that are headlined with the term "grandma"? If so, are you personally a grandmother? And if not, might you still be a grandmother?

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From all that I can gather in today's world, actual grandmothers — who can be as young as in their early 40s, by gosh and by golly — are not exactly fans of being called "grandma".

By choice, I had no children, therefore I will never be a grandmother. As the years have flown by, in my own body and mind, I — almost — feel no different from when I was a teenager. Having children undoubtedly transforms a person in some way, so if you've had kids, you likely have memories of a "pre" and "post" life in terms of being a parent. Therefore, how you feel about a word like "grandma" may be very, very different from how I feel.

Or maybe not.

When used as a descriptor in some way, I'm personally turned off by the word "grandma". For AllFreeSewing projects that are described as such — and here is a list from a newsletter where four projects out of twenty include the term — I never click on them.


Actually, that's a bit of a lie, since for the purposes of this post, I did click on these four just to see what they were. None of them were specifically referenced as being for grandma or inspired by grandma by the people who provided the original links.

Isn't that interesting?

By the way, here is the project that was linked to #9...

Photo courtesy of Melanie Lalonde from thelittleststudio.com...

I've checked out the whole blog post that the tutorial is featured on and nowhere does the word "grandma" appear. The project itself is actually quite cool and trendy, but I wouldn't have known about it had I not been doing research for this post.

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So back to the original conundrum... does anyone have any evidence that today's sewers are fascinated by projects that are grandma oriented?

Image courtesy of CottonandCurls.com...
the designer did not mention "grandma" in her listing of this project

I'm truly curious as to why AllFreeSewing does this when it can easily describe projects that allude to a previous generation by using a decade descriptor; i.e., the 1940s, the 1950s, the 1960s. And yes, it does do that on occasion; the oddity is that I see the term "grandma" show up on virtually every newsletter! (Another seemingly favourite term of theirs is "little old lady"!)

AllFreeSewing Newsletter
This list came from a recent newsletter titled 25 Retirement Patterns...
I'm actually quite appalled by #4!

I mean, I get the attraction to vintage... that trend has been around since forever, in varying degrees. What's in fashion now has undoubtedly been in fashion before. The whole "what's old is new again" saying applies on a regular basis. But admiring items from decades ago is different from applying the word "grandma" to describe them.

My MyTie Makeover Mini Bag being described as made from "grandpa's tie"...

No doubt, part of the personal aversion that I feel relates to being reminded that I'm getting older... and not liking that fact. I could be totally wrong about assuming that younger crafters would avoid projects labelled for "grandma".

So let me hear from you, whether you're young or old: are you intrigued by things that are described as being for "grandma"? I am so genuinely curious!


  1. Well that is very odd that so many titles have Grandma in them. I certainly would not be inclined to click on anything just because the word grandma was there. I am a grandmother having only one grandson, but like you Rochelle, I still feel like I have felt since I was a teenager, only a little smarter. Maybe they think that using grandma is like other advertisers using a young sexy woman to sell a product? Or perhaps they are trying to entice us to think of fond memories of our grandmothers? That won't work for me because I didn't grow up with my grandmothers. We moved when I was a toddler. Only had one visit from my paternal grandmother. My grandfathers were deceased before I was born.

  2. For me it's kind of a turnoff. I love being a Nana, but when I look back at old pics and see what I thought was great fashion design (while I was wearing it) I have to laugh a little bit. My own grandmother was not fashionable in the least. Maybe it's a tag-on to all the craft and sewing shows on TV that are featuring vintage and antique fashion lately.

    1. Good to know I am not alone in my thoughts on this. What little I know about my own grandmothers does not bring to mind thoughts of fashionability either! Thanks for sharing your opinion from the standpoint of being a grandmother.

  3. Ha, ha... I've often wondered why all the Grandma references in the AllFreeSewing emails. I'm less likely to click Grandma links, as it conjures up a picture of a little old lady - not that I have a problem with little old ladies. But, it's just not me - not yet, anyway. And that's coming from someone who is a grandmother. Grandma was the first to be crossed off the list when we discussed what I'd like to be called. It sounds much older than I am or feel!!!

    Funnily enough, my embroidered bookmark has had the term Grandma added by AllFreeSewing in their emails, and in the description on their site, they called it a Ladylike bookmark. I did give it to a Great Grandmother, but I could just as easily have given it to a teenager.

    I'm guessing that most, if not all of the editors at AllFreeSewing are reasonably young - compared to me, anyway. And that they associate Grandmas as having good, solid sewing skills, and as such, it's a positive thing to add to the links. Perhaps the older we get, the less inclined we are to want to be associated with anything 'old'.

  4. Honestly... I click on a lot of them, but it's because the "names" they put on the projects don't always make sense to me, so I click and close almost all of the links. I agree with what you're saying (I'm not old, but not young anymore either!) :), But my issue isn't with the Grandma word per se, more with the lack of information in the names. Lol

    1. Well, what that proves is that AllFreeSewing is maximizing their click-through rate. They love you as a reader; me, not so much... LOL!

      Thanks for leaving a comment.


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