A colonial milliner used sewing implements such as needles, scissors, iron pins and thimbles. Other vital tools were various types of fabric, irons, paper for creating garment patterns, hat blocks, laundry tubs and washboards.
This occupation was one the few career paths open to females of the colonial America. Young girls serving as millinery apprentices were usually well-educated by the standards of the time, and they also served as links between European fashion and American customers. Hat styles and skirt styles of the 1700s changed several times per year, and a colonial milliner had to keep up with fashion, for example by the use of "fashion babies," imported dolls showing the latest styles.