UNKNOWN PHOTOGRAPHER. Seamstress. ca. 1853
A dressmaker could earn a decent living in the mid-nineteenth century, but the lower-ranked and far more numerous impoverished seamstresses working 16-hour days were the norm. New commercially available sewing machines met the surging demand for ready-made clothes. A hand-sewn shirt took ten or more hours to complete, while a machine-sewn shirt could be finished in an hour.