A brief history of the Sewing Machine

Before the invention of the sewing machine, all clothing, home furnishings and even agricultural sacks were sewn by hand. The series of events and inventions that led to what we recognise today as a sewing machine were a very important part of background. Here is an overview of some the inventors, their contributions and how we all finally made reality the dream of a machine that could take the labour out of sewing.

The first person to apply for a patent for a sewing machine was a British inventor named Thomas Saint in 1791, however their machine was not known to have have you been developed. The first actual working stitching machine to be presented as such towards the world was in 1814 by an Austrian tailor Josef Madersperger, although no apparently working machine is usually thought to have come from his work.

In 1830 Barthlemy Thimonnier through France patented a working machine that was capable of sewing straight seams using a chain stitch. By 1841 he had a factory of these machines but it was allegedly sabotaged and burned up down by French tailors, they were reported to have seen the existence of these types of machines as a threat to their jobs rather than the invaluable work tool that the sewing machine came to be. Thimonnier ultimately came to England with a machine plus was apparently the first person to offer working machines for sale, he furthermore ran a garment factory.

A north american Walter Hunt invented the first lockstitch sewing machine in 1833. This machine used 2 spools associated with thread with an eye pointed hook similar to machines of today, however the machine needed resetting too often to be viable. Another American, John Greenough, produced a working machine in which the needle approved completely through the cloth but was unable to generate enough interest to produce the machine for resale.

Elias Howe created a machine similar to that made by Walt Hunt in 1845. There were several improvements which made his machine the most viable yet although he or she struggled to gain financial backing. After trying to sell his machine in England he return to the US to find lots of people experienced taken his idea and making similar machines that apparently infringed his patent.

Isaac Merritt Singer was an engineer who made a decision to redesign the rotary sewing machine. His machine used a soaring shuttle instead of a rotary one; the needle was mounted vertically and included a presser foot to hold the cloth in place. It a new fixed arm to hold the needle and also included a basic tensioning system.
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Singer got an American patent regarding his machine in 1851, he developed a foot pedal or even treadle, for use with his machines. Howe took Singer and a few others in order to court over patent breaches and was awarded some compensation.

An interesting fact, if you find these things interesting, would be that the first hire-purchase type payment scheme is reported to have first been brought about by Singer and a lawyer called Edward Clark, and was brought about in order to allow people to afford to purchase their sewing machines. The success of the particular Singer sewing machines tends to be credited more to the sales techniques utilized by Singer and Clark, rather than something outstandingly different with their machines.

Through the years other people and partnerships brought improvements and manufactured more machines. There have been more than a few squabbles over patents plus threats to sue. Allen W Wilson and Nathaniel Wheeler created a quieter smoother machine under the Wheeler and Wilson Company manufacturing devices in the 1850s and 60s. As more people entered the design and production of sewing machines ‘The Sewing Machine War’ came about as everybody tried to protect their own intellectual property, eventually Singer, Howe, Wheeler plus Wilson and Grove and Baker came together with their patents developing ‘The Sewing Machine Combination’ within 1856. This forced the other manufacturers to do things their way plus pay a license fee for the opportunity.

Knitting machines were first observed in 1877 in the form of a crochet machine, this was invented by a Joseph Merrow. This machine was in fact the first ‘overlock’ sewing machine and The Merrow Machine Company still produce overlock machines today.

In 1885 Vocalist patented the ‘Singer Vibrating Shuttle’ sewing machine using Allen B Wilson vibrating shuttle, this machine was more adapt at lockstitching, replacing the oscillating shuttles and continuing use till the rotary shuttle machines replaced them.

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