Sneak Peek at our upcoming Workwoman’s Dress!

All the stay at home orders have us inspired to launch new designs! Last year, we launched our Anne Dress. Earlier this year, we launched our Suffragette Dress. And this fall we are excited to launch our Workwoman’s Dress!

Our Workwoman’s Dress is a sister to our American South dress. The differences lie in the lower price point, details, and multiplicity. This new dress is a suitable work dress for the 1840s through about 1900.

Our Workwoman’s Dress features an unlined, loose fitting bodice attached to a fully gathered skirt via a waistband. The skirt is approximately 110″ wide and has a single turn hem. Our workman’s dress does not use piping at the armscye or the neckline. The gown closes at the center front with buttons and a skirt hook/eye at the waistband.

Our new Workwoman’s Dress launches in our special order catalog Fall 2020! Stay tuned!

Workwoman’s Guide Dress

I recently put together this 1840s era work dress based on drawings from the Workwoman’s Guide by a Lady. I used pattern #017 by Saundra Ros Altman of Past Patterns. The Workwoman’s Guide refers to the cut of this dress as the Full French High Body.

My rendering of Past Patterns #017 in reproduction cotton print
Pleated bodice detail with hand painted china buttons.
I opted for a plain bodice back to keep the silhouette sleek- retaining most of the fullness in the front.
A signature of a Maggie May dress is our contrasting hem protector. It adds just a splash of color to your skirts as you walk!

The Workwoman’s Guide Dress is shown over our extra full petticoats, chemise, corded petticoat, and over bust corset.

According to the The Workwoman’s Guide (c.1838), “It is very bad economy to purchase, for articles of clothing, cheap bargains. They generally consist of damaged goods or are otherwise inferior in their quality as it stands to reason that no mercer would feel inclined to sell his stock at a lower rate than what its worth.” (Chapter 2, pg 11).

This makes me laugh as it is SO RELEVANT today. Who would have thought?

Love this gown? Make one for yourself. You can get your very own pattern over at!

This gown is headed to Barrington Living History Farm (now Barrington Plantation) in Washington, Texas. View more of our custom made historical garments in our catalog! Or contact us at!

1850s Work Dress in Wild Berry Print

1850s work dress

Our 1850s-1870s era Work Woman’s Dress has been a popular and economical choice over the past few years. And this work dress in Wild Berry print is one of my favorite versions! This gorgeous warm nature inspired historical print has been mostly overlooked for bolder prints in our collection but I just LOVE the earthy warmth this print brings to the table.

1850s work dress
1850s work dress

Finished with dark wood inspired buttons and one of our cotton crochet collars, this 1850s-1870s era Work Woman’s Dress can be worn for dressier occasions too!

1850s work dress
1850s work dress

Click on the following links for more information about our Work Woman’s Dress, our historical cotton print fabrics, or any of our Victorian era custom made clothing and accessories.

DIY Dress kit- 1836-1855

Maggie May Clothing is partnering with Past Patterns Pattern Co. to bring you the absolute BEST in DIY historical sewing! We have drawn from Saundra Altman’s meticulously researched historical sewing patterns and curated for you a collection of sewing patterns specifically suited to reproducing every day wear for ladies and children.

Past Patterns is THE STANDARD in historical pattern making and has been providing us the most authentic and historically accurate sewing patterns since 1979.  We are pairing each carefully selected pattern with our collection of reproduction historical print fabrics to bring you the highest quality materials for all your D.I.Y. needs!

The fabrics shown in the image galleries are used for example. They may or may not be available at the time of purchase. Please be sure to SPECIFY YOUR CHOICE of fabric by including the FABRIC NUMBER at checkout.

Pattern Details:

This pattern was created from “A Full High Gown, To Open in Front” in the Workwoman’s Guide. The cutting instructions and construction by the author were adequate for 1836 but would be difficult for today’s sewer to understand. To make it easier to sew, we copied the construction and sewing techniques used in original nineteenth century work dresses found in private the museum collections.

According to the author a full high gown that opens in front is “particularly suitable for house-maids, dairy or kitchen-maids, char and washerwomen; they should be made of the strongest print, . . . It is bad economy to buy a cheap poor material for a working dress, under the idea that it will do very well for common purposes, when they should stand a good deal of wear and tear.”

The gathered bodice is secured by the lining. If you do not want a gathered bodice you may cut a bodice using the lining pattern pieces. The fashion fabric and lining are then sewn as one or as we say today the bodice is flat lined.

Accompanying the dress pattern is a large short sleeve, a smaller short sleeve, a long sleeve and collar. All were described as appropriate to wear with the work dress.