As a child I sewed by hand (age 8), my father worked in a place that had satin and taffeta scraps and he brought them home. As I grew up, age 9, I got a tin toy sewing machine with a crank handle. I was in heaven I could sew tube tops for me and things for my dolls. 12 years old when I got a real sewing machine WOW. Did I wonder where the sewing machine came from? No – and had not really thought about it until thinking about a post for RCC.
A sewing machine is: “a machine used to stitch fabric and other materials together with thread.” These machines were invented during the Industrial Revolution to decrease the amount of time it took to hand sew garments. In 1755, Charles Frederick Wiesenthal, a German born engineer living in the UK was issued the first British patent for a mechanical device to aid in the art of sewing. The machine consisted of a double-pointed needle with an eye on one end. In 1790, the English inventor Thomas Saint invented the first sewing machine design, but he did not market the machine well. The machine was designed to sew canvas and leather type materials. It is thought that Saint had a working model but it has never been found. The machine produced a chain stitch method (a vertical needle bar and a looper), the single thread made a simple stitch in the material and with the aid of the stitching awl which pierced the material going to the underside forming a stitch – the process was repeated and formed a locked stitch.
This machine was also used to make saddles, bridles, canvas and boat sails. His machine was very advance but needed steady improvements over the next decades. In 1874 William N. Wilson found Saints British patent in the patent office. Wilson made adjustments to the looper and built a working machine – the machine is in the London Science Museum. In 1804 a sewing machine was built by Englishman Thomas and James Henderson, an embroidering machine was built by John Duncan in Scotland, Austrian tailor, Josef Madersperger began developing his first machine in 1807, his first working model was in 1814. You could go on and on through the years but to be up to date we shall skip a few of the years. 1845 brought an important improvement “the needle running away from the point, starting from the eye”. there have been patent infringements and awards made this machine.
Isaac Singer enter the picture: he saw a rotary sewing machine being repaired and thought it to be clumsy,
Singer then designed a better one using a falling shuttle instead of the rotary plus he included a presser foot to hold the fabric in place – the needle was placed vertically, had a fixed arm to hold the needle and provided a basic tension system Singer was granted a patent in 1851 and suggested a patent for a foot petal (called a treadle) but this foot petal had been in use for too long to get a patent. With the invention of the Sewing Machine a mans shirt could be produced in 1 hour where by hand it took 14.5 hours. Since 1877 many types of machines have been designed i.e. overlock, crochet, vibrating shuttle .
In 1880 this machine was built by the Wilson and Wheeler Company. Notice the crank.
As the years evolved so did the sewing machine industry – Making a selection as to what you need or want – are you going to quilt on it, sew garments, make sails, overlock., embroidery, felt or ??? What size throat, domestic or longarm, it goes on and on. Then comes price. A big new Bernina would be fun but do you need a new car? The first BIG Bernina cost $12,000.00 , a Ford Focus cost $11,000.00.
Looking back over the years what have been your machines, what type of sewing have you done? I have a 1-year-old Jamone 8900 Horizon, the first computerized machine I’ve owned. My all time favorite is my 30-year-old 930 Bernina. I do wall art quilts, wearable art and streetwear.