History Of The Sewing Machine: Incredible Facts You Never Knew

History was my favorite school subject? Yours too, I hope.

One would think that history of the sewing machine can’t possibly be interesting but that is so wrong.

It is covered with the veil of mystery and controversy. The invention of the first sewing machine was preceded with some other important inventions.

I believe sewing is art. It’s great what you can do with a needle and a thread! Hand sewing appeared long before sewing machines (approximately 20000, 00 years ago).

It was closely connected with people’s need to cover their bodies with clothes. For sewing you need needles. In accordance with a moment first needles were made of animal bones and horns. Besides needles one more necessity is thread. The first threads were made of animal tendon.

As humanity continued developing and improving many machines that were once someone’s dream became reality. It was expected that at some point hand sewing will be replaced (partially or completely) with machine sewing!

Why was the sewing machine invented?

Industrial Revolution changed the course of history!

Having in mind all the innovation and discoveries the Industrial Revolution brought it was to a certain extent expected that some changes in sewing must happen.

With high and fast development of all branches of industry appeared the need for developed textile industry.

And how could this industry function without a machine that could help people sew faster!

Tailors and engineers were first that started thinking about this problem at the same time looking for the solution.

First sewing machines were simple, used for leather and canvas with an eye – pointed needle.

Later, sewing machines improved and were changed in many ways. They were adjusted to cotton and other popular materials while today they can be used on all types of materials for making everything a man can come up with!

When was the first sewing machine invented?

It is well known how Industrial Revolutions affected and changed people’s lives.

The First Industrial Revolution at the beginning of the 18th century led to mechanization in many fields. Consequently, it caused changes in sewing process.
first sewing machine patent
By this period sewing was done by hand. The appearance of the first mechanical sewing machines enabled faster and higher production.

The first patent related to the mechanical sewing machine appeared in 1755. It was a sewing needle designed for a machine. Charles Wiesenthal made no description of any machine in his patent but it was more than obvious that there was a need for such a thing.

A few decades later, in 1790, the first sewing machine patent appeared. Thomas Saint, an English inventor, designed the first sewing machine!

He made a patent and probably built a working prototype but there is no proof that he did. This is just an assumption.

This first machine was designed for leather and canvas. What’s interesting (considering it was invented in the First Industrial Revolution) is that it was very detailed. It had a feed mechanism, an overhanging arm, and a vertical needle bar.

Sewing machine in the 19th century

19th century brought many new inventions. A wide range of people, tailors mostly, started developing different types of sewing machines.

  • 1804 – Thomas Stone and James Henderson – sewing machine; this same year John Duncan constructed the embroidering machine.
  • 1807 – Josef Madersperger (an Austrian tailor) started developing his first sewing machine. He presented it in 1814 and continued working on it until 1839.
  • 1829 – A French tailor Barthelemy Thimonnier invented a sewing machine that sewed straight seams. This machine used chain stich. In 1830 he started working with Auguste Ferrand, a mining engineer. His patent was issued the same year. But he started a company despite this situation and started machine – based sewing of French army uniforms. His workers were afraid of the issuing problems and in fear of losing their jobs they burned the factory down.
  • 1832 – The first American sewing machine was invented. Walter Hunt used an eye – pointed needle. He didn’t bother to patent this machine until 1854.
  • 1842 – The first sewing machine was patented in the United States. Although it was invented earlier, the first person who patented it was John Greenough.

Who invented the modern sewing machine in 1846?

John Fisher designed a sewing machine that eliminated disparity between the moving parts since previous machines had good parts with one problem – the parts couldn’t function together.

Elias Howe

Using Fisher’s machine as a model, an American inventor Elias Howe made a new patent. He made some adjustments. He wanted to design a machine that uses thread from two different sources.

He created a lockstitch. This lockstitch sewing machine used an eye – pointed needle. Howe, who invented the sewing machine in 1846, had many troubles patenting and selling his invention so he went to England.

When he had returned to his homeland he realized others stole his patent. But Elias Howe was the first to set foundations for a modern sewing machine.

When did Isaac Merritt Singer invent the sewing machine?

The first half of the 19th century brought many innovations in the field of sewing. Sewing improved a lot.

In 1844, John Fisher made a sewing machine that combined all the innovations. A little after him, in 1851, Isaac Merritt Singer invented similar sewing machine. There was a large dispute of whose invention is going to be patented and Singer won.

 

Who invented the electric sewing machine?

Singer machines are absolute rulers in the world of sewing machines. Therefore it’s no surprise that Singer Sewing Co. invented the first electric sewing machine.

The first one was introduced in 1889. This announced a completely new ear not only in the world of sewing machines but in machine – based clothes manufacturing as well!

In the beginning, these electric machines were standard. They’ve used a motor strapped on the side.

Since electric currency was more and more available in homes (not only in factories) these electric sewing machines gained big popularity.

Where was the sewing machine invented?

I have already mentioned some of the most important sewing machines inventors. From Great Britain, trough France all the way up to the States many people worked hard on improving sewing and sewing machines!

All the things they’ve done made today’s machine – based clothes manufacturing possible and therefore we owe them gratitude!

The British took credits for the first sewing machine patent in 1755. After this, many English inventors worked on improving the sewing machine.

Austrian tailors also worked on making better sewing machines but they weren’t as successful as British inventors.

The first practical sewing machine was invented in France.

The Americans didn’t leg behind the English.  They’ve made a big contribution to the world of sewing and brought many important innovations.

 

Sewing machine and the Industrial Revolution – How did the sewing machine impact the industrial revolution?

There are no doubts that Industrial revolution took humanity into a completely new direction. It didn’t only cause changes in the way people work but it also brought many innovations that directly affected people’s lives.

As I’ve already told you, sewing was done by hand. This made the textile industry development almost impossible (at least to a great extent).

first industrial revolution

The invention of the sewing machine made this development possible. But not only that – this was a great opportunity for women all over the world.

Women had always been standing aside. They were mostly wives, mothers and housewives. This was a great chance for them since textile industry required a woman hand. And who else knew about sewing?

Thanking to the lockstitch sewing machine with an eye – pointe needle mass production of clothing became possible.

Sewing machine was the first machine that entered people’s homes and made their lives easier (especially of women – it saved hours of hand sewing.)

Not only clothes, but manufacturing of other goods became much easier. It was now possible to mass produce army uniforms, upholsters for cars, beds and other furniture, towels, pillows, curtains and toys.

Who invented the sewing machine in the Industrial Revolution?

I’ve already told you most interesting parts about periods of sewing machine development but there’s no harm repeating it.

As I said, Thomas Sainted invented the first sewing machine design but didn’t patent it. Using his discoveries, William Newton Wilson improved and adjusted this design and patented it in 1874.

Next, Englishmen Thomas Stone, James Henderson, John Fisher and Elias Howe gave enormous contribute to the sewing machine development. They’ve all used previous discoveries and combined them with something new.

Then, the inventions of Americans such as Walter Hunt, Gibbs, Willcox were equally important in the development of sewing machines. Machines that Willcox & Gibbs Sewing Machine Company produced are still very popular.

Probably the highest contribution in mass production of high – quality sewing machines gave Isaac Merritt Singer.

Singer machines have been, still are and probably will be the best and the most selling sewing machines in the world.

What was the impact of the sewing machine?

Among all the inventions that appeared in the world from the First Industrial Revolution until today, the impact of the sewing machine was one of the biggest!

It wouldn’t be all right to say that all other inventions were less important – certainly not (I wouldn’t dare to even think that)!

But the impact of the sewing machine was somehow special. The textile industry wasn’t developed at all.

I’ve mentioned more than once that sewing was done by hand. Mass production simply wasn’t possible.

With sewing machines, people could now make clothes faster. And not only clothing!

Everything that had anything to do with textile now was made faster and in a larger quantity.

Sewing machine is one of the most useful things ever invented!

It led Europe into a new era of production of clothing. And not only Europe but America as well.

Textile industry grew (as I’ve mentioned several times); women could now have close to a decent job.

Thanking to the development of textile industry, sewing machines started selling as crazy. This caused massive commercialization and advertisement.

So, the impact wasn’t just related with one segment of work but with all. Consequently, it impacted lives and caused many changes.

There was more money so people started living better lives.

How did the sewing machine impact society?

Before the first sewing machine was invented, women (mostly housewives) spent days making clothes for their family.

Even those who could afford help needed much time to finish this chore.

It was a long and not easy process.

Hand sewing is not completely precise so if it somehow happened to women to make some mistake, they needed even more time to correct it.

Because of this no one had much clothes. One suit, or two – it was enough.

The invention of the sewing machine changed this!

After realizing that it’s possible to have more than two outfits, people started paying more attention to their clothing, especially upper society classes. Sewing machine made this possible.

Since now sewing was transferred from seamstress and wives to factories, clothes became cheaper and more available.

Besides this, factories meant new jobs. Textile industry mostly hired women, what was one big step forward in the position of the women in the world.

Sewing machine helped textile industry to grow; textile industry helped growth of other industries – cotton industry, metal industry, furniture industry and so on.

This one invention was a turning point in the development of not only industry but the complete society.

How did the sewing machine change the world?

Sewing machine meant opportunity! It was a chance for unskilled workers to find job.

Singer came up with a completely new idea of payment – installment. People could now buy things even though they didn’t have money right away.

With these installment plans, people, mostly women, bought sewing machines for home use and saved hours of working. They could finish making their clothes in no time.

Sewing machine also directly impacted other industrial branches. Everything that had something to do with materials and machine parts had now had its market. It was a mutually conditioned process.

 

How did the sewing machine make life easier?

Sewing machine made sewing an easy and fast process. It had cut the working time necessary for sewing to a great extent. Everything people could only dream about was now possible to make (more clothes, different clothes – different type and material).

It brought new jobs and new hopes!

 

I can’t avoid repeating how important was and still is the invention of the sewing machine.

After reading this article you had to become aware of the fact that sewing machine is one of the biggest inventions ever!

It affected people’s lives so much that it’s almost impossible to explain it in words! I hope I managed to get you close to understanding its importance and significance.

Now, after you’ve read my article, you won’t enter any outlet or clothing shop without feeling thankful to people who invented this special machine.

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