Thursday, August 10, 2017


"Young Man with a Flute" by George Romney
shows a garment that would have been made
at a tailor's shop
Until the mid-1800s, American people didn’t have factories that made cloth or sewing machines to sew that cloth. The process of spinning thread, weaving cloth, and sewing proved to be too much for most folks. More men, women, and children, rich or poor, needed a tailor in those times than any other craftsman.
Therefore, individuals visited a tailor to have their measurements taken and their garments made. The tailor would make a paper pattern, cut out a garment, and sew it.
The early tailor’s supplies came from England who shipped more cloth to America than any other supplier until the Revolutionary War. After that, Americans had to begin to make their own cloth, thread, and buttons.
            At first, only men worked as tailors. A little later, a new style of dress called a mantua required a process of draping the cloth for women’s garments instead of using a paper pattern. This opened the door for women to begin to make clothing for money. These women tailors were called mantua makers.
`           Tailor apprentices started very young, usually at age eight and remained an apprentice for seven years. As beginners, these learners started with plain sewing. Later, they became cutters or finishers. Cutters cut out patterns and cloth. Finishers completed such tasks as hand stitching buttonholes, attaching lace to a lady’s gown, and sewing with fancy stitches to make a garment pretty.
            The invention of the sewing machine and the advent of the Industrial Age decreased the need for tailors. 

“Young Women with a Lamb" by Thomas Hudson
shows draped dresses, the work of a mantua maker.


Crews, Ed. “Tailor Made for History.” Colonial Web. 3 Sept. 2016

Taylor, Dale. The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in Colonial America. Cincinnati: Writer’s Digest Books, 1997. Print.

Saturday, August 5, 2017


          When one of our children was teething, my mother-in-law gave me three silver spoons which had been in her family. She told me that her mother had given them to her to teethe on when she was a baby since they were softer than the silver-plated silverware her family owned. 
        I looked up the silversmith marks on the backs of the spoons. Read More

Friday, July 28, 2017


Shoe Last

            A colonial shoemaker made shoes from leather that he bought from a tanner. The early shoemaker sold his shoes to the middle and lower income people since wealthy people ordered their shoes from England and later from the Dutch and French after America declared its freedom from England.
The shoemaker began by Read More

Thursday, July 20, 2017


Early Clocks
The first clock in Pennsylvania might have been a lantern clock made to sit on a shelf. The lantern clock had a brass box and a bell on top for striking the hours. The clock had the height of about fifteen inches and a spring-driven single hand. The face had only hours and half-hour marks.
The next kind of clock Read More

Thursday, July 13, 2017


Kentucky Rifle

     In colonial times, gunsmiths worked as repairmen and as makers of new guns. A gunsmith might make a gun from used parts, new parts, or a combination of used and new. The kind of guns made in the early years of America were Read More

Thursday, July 6, 2017


A Glassmaker at 2010 Pennsylvania Renaissance Fair

Have you ever heard the expression, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones?” This is referring to someone whose house is made of glass. Today, I'm describing someone who worked Read More

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Cabinet Maker

In the early days of America, the essentials of life kept a person busy. The homeowner or a neighborhood carpenter built simple rough furniture quickly and simply. The country carpenter also made Read More