Overalls for women

I recently came across this beautiful example of a factory made garment produced specifically for the early 20th century working class.This garment is significant because it gives us a glimpse of what women were wearing as they began to enter the work force and provides a striking juxtaposition to the early 20th century extravagance so often exhibited in museum collections.


From the collection of Manchester Art Gallery in Manchester, England. Here is what they have to say:

This factory overall is made of hardwearing twilled cotton, woven in blue and white stripes. The sleeves are full-length and the skirt long, in order to protect the woman worker’s own clothes, as well as for food hygiene reasons. It was worn in the C W S Jam Works at Middleton Junction, Greater Manchester, around 1900.

By the early 1900s a wider range of factory jobs became available for women whereas hitherto the jobs available has been largely in the textile industries, involving heavy work in poor conditions. Work in the food processing industries would have been eagerly sought by working women who had to support themselves financially, and the Co-operative Wholesale Society had a reputation as being a good employer, offering fair wages and good working conditions. Female workers would have worn these overalls, with caps to cover their hair, and they would have had to be boiled regularly to keep them clean, which explains why they are so sturdily made. However, these precautions would not be seen as adequate in a jam factory today, where workers wear latex gloves, caps, overalls and plastic disposable aprons for today’s more rigorous standards of hygiene.


Our Blue cotton ticking would make a perfect reproduction! Availableby the yard!


About Susan

Hi! My name is Susan and I am a historian, seamstress, teacher, mother, and wife. My passion for history has manifested itself in the art of recreating clothing from different periods of time. Growing up in the American South, I am heavily schooled in the art of recreating clothing from the 19th century. After nearly a decade of immersing myself primarily in the Victorian period, I found the need to branch out and explore other periods of time. However, it is my connection with the American South and the clothing of rural America that continues to be the driving force behind my designs.