|"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 Wiliamsburg.com. Web. 3 Sept. 2016
Taylor, Dale. The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in Colonial America. Cincinnati: Writer’s Digest Books, 1997. Print.