A seamstress is a person who sews, someone who earns a living by sewing. At first, women's clothes were made at home by the ladies themselves, their servants or a professional seamstress. Fabrics, increasingly mass produced, became more affordable during the Industrial Revolution, and demand for clothes grew among the newly-wealthy, middle class women.
- Look closely at the photo and describe what the woman is doing.
- Before the Industrial Revolution, people would make and sew their clothing by hand. Based on what was noticed in the photo, how did a seamstress' job change after the Industrial Revolution?
- With the invention of the sewing machine, clothing could be made more quickly and cheaply. How would this change the demand for clothes?
"Occupational Portrait of a Woman Working at a Sewing Machine," ca. 1853. Courtesy of Library of Congress