Passementerie loom with Jacquard machines
Sexual division of labour
Gender and social class
In the 19th century, the association between sewing and femininity was reinforced: the ideal woman, angel of the home, was supposed to know how to sew, not to engage in it professionally, but as a mere ‘female occupation’, one which is silent, submissive and repetitive. However, sewing and other jobs related to the textile industry not only formed part of this ideal of femininity as mere female ‘occupation’ or pastime, but they were also a form of financial support, a trade, for many women from the lower social classes. Textile workshops like Manuel Hurtado’s Pasamanería Valenciana hired numerous women who shared the tasks with their male co-workers. Single women usually worked full-time, while married women generally worked from home doing piecework. These women’s wages were essential to the financial subsistence their families, which could not be supported on the husband’s salary alone.