The fruits of nimble finger: garment construction and the working lives of eighteenth-century English needlewomen

  • Author / Creator
    Dowdell, Carolyn
  • The research objective of this thesis is to re-examine women‟s labour in the eighteenth-century English sewing trades. Several aspects women‟s working lives in the sewing trades are explored in three sections. The first section examines diversity within the sewing trades, employment opportunities, working conditions and quality of life. The second focuses on garment construction practices and techniques. The third discusses social standings of needlewomen, and consumer economy issues as they pertained to the needletrades. Methods employed include building upon prior scholarship of women‟s work and aspects of pre-industrial English garment trades, primary source material, and object-based research using garment artefacts from the Museum of London, England, Berrington Hall, and the Royal Ontario Museum. The research findings indicate that pre-industrial English needlewomen‟s working lives were highly nuanced, their skills more sophisticated than generally believed, and their role within the burgeoning consumer society worthy of further in-depth investigation.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2010
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.