Sewing is an ancient craft involving the stitching of cloth, animal skins, furs, or other materials, using needle and thread. Its use is nearly universal among human populations and dates back to Paleolithic times (30,000 BC). Sewing predates the weaving of cloth.
Material is sewn together to form a pieced garment, or items such as buttons and zippers are attached to material. Soft goods other than clothes, such as curtains, bedclothes, upholstery, and table linens, are also made by sewing.
Most sewing in the industrial world is done by machines. Some people sew clothes for themselves and their families. More often home sewers sew to repair clothes, such as mending a torn seam or replacing a loose button. A person who sews for a living is known as a seamstress, dressmaker, tailor, or garment worker.
"Plain" sewing is done for functional reasons: making or mending clothing or household linens. "Fancy" sewing is primarily decorative, including techniques such as shirring, embroidery, or quilting.