Have you ever given any thought as to what you would have been doing as a woman in the 18th-century? Most women were stay-at-home moms even then - homeschooling their children and taking care of their often big families. Few women owned businesses. For the most part, colonial law prevented women from being independent though they were able to work as seamstresses and own millinery shops. There were quite a few poets, artists, and writers among them but they used male pseudonyms for the most part or stayed anonymous.
I made Morrow a seamstress in Courting Morrow Little because it suited her personality just as much as Lael was unsuited to be a teacher in The Frontiersman's Daughter. Elfreth's Alley actually exists in Philadelphia and is thought to be the oldest continuously inhabited street in America. I thought it was a charming place for Aunt Etta's millinery or mantua (gown-making) shoppe. Benjamin Franklin lived there as well but no one really knows which house was his. There's the sweetest little courtyard along the alley and one house has a spinning balcony, a tiny porch on the second floor where, in pleasant days, the lady of the house set her spinning wheel.
Some fun facts about milliners/mantua-makers:
~Milliners sometimes used bread to rub out stains in clothing
~Ready-made clothing was not considered fashionable
~Red dye was the most expensive for fabrics and came from ground cochineal beetles
~To attract business, some advertised they could sew a gown in one day!
~In summer, women wore green silk half-masks to protect their skin from the sun
~Some cities had as many as fifty tailors and seamstresses
Below is a short video that shows what you'd have to endure to be in fashion back then. Wonder what our colonial sisters would think of our Levis and t-shirts and flip flops?!