History of Sewing Machines Made In the US

An 1880 hand-cranked machine from the Wheeler and Wilson Company

Sewing is an art of attaching or hooking objects with the help of stitches made with thread and needle. Sewing arose in the Paleolithic era and is the oldest textile art.

A Brief History of Sewing

Archaeologists presume that before the invention of weaving fabric or spinning yarn, people of Stone Age across Asia and Europe sewed their skin clothing and fur using ivory, bone, or antler needles. The thread used by them was made of several parts of the animal body, including veins, tendons, and catgut. Iron needles were invented in the 14th century, and in the 15th century, the first eyed needles emerged.

For thousands of years, this craft was done by hands. Haute fashion, high-quality tailoring, and custom dressmaking are the characteristics of fine hand sewing. As a means of innovative expression, it was chased by both hobbyists and textile artists.

History of Sewing Machine

The first sewing machine was invented in the 19th century to sew materials and fabric together using thread. The sewing machine was designed during the first industrial revolution. The purpose was to lessen the amount of laboring sewing work executed in the clothing corporations.

Englishman Thomas Saint and Elias Howe are considered to be the inventors of the first working sewing machine in 1790. It has significantly enhanced the productivity and efficiency of clothing manufacturing.

Home sewing machines are constructed for a single person to stitch individual items. But now, the procedure of stitching has been motorized in the modern sewing machine. It makes the cloth effortlessly slide in and out of the tool without the difficulty of thimbles, needles, and other equipment used in hand sewing.

All machines were run by either a treadle mechanism or persistently turning a handle. Later, electrically powered machines were launched. As compared to the domestic sewing machines, industrial ones are faster, substantial, and more diverse in their appearance, size, task, and cost.

Who Invented the Sewing Machine?

The question of who invented the first sewing machine is a topic for an argument for the historians of early age. The history starts in 1755 in London. During that period, Charles Weisenthal, a German immigrant, took out a license for a needle to be applied for mechanical stitching.

After 34 years, Englishman Thomas Saint designed what is broadly reviewed to be the first real sewing machine. The history then moves to Germany wherein, around 1810, BalthasarKrems, constructed the machine for stitching caps. However, no accurate dates can be given for the models of Krems.

During the early 19th century, Josef Madersperger, an Australian tailor, manufactured a series of machines and received a patent in 1814. In 1839, he was still working on the development, but could not succeed in putting together all the elements in one machine.

In 1818, the first original claim to fame of America came when a Vermont Churchman John Adams Doge, along with his mate John Knowles, built a device, which could only stitch a little length of material. After every little sewing, burdensome re-setting was necessary.

The French government granted a patent to BarthelemyThimonnier in 1830. He built a barbed needle from wood and used it in his machine. Barthelemy originally constructed the machine for embroidery, but later, he saw its capability as a sewing machine.

BarthelemyThimonnier persuaded the government about the convenience of his invention – all the others before him failed to do so. He got the contract of building a set of machines and use them for stitching the uniforms of the French army.

In a little time of 10 years, Thimonnier had a factory with 80 running machines. But he got into danger from Parisian tailors, who feared that the success of his innovation would take overhand sewing, and they will be put out of business.

The tailors stormed the factory and destroyed every machine. After some time, BarthelemyThimonnier started the production of sewing machines again with his new partner. This time he made a lot of improvements and went into full-scale production, but the same tailors attacked again.

In 1833, Walter Hunt, a Quaker in America, designed the first machine which did not attempt to copy hand sewing. Using two spindles of thread and integrated an eye-pointed needle, it made a lock stitch. But again, it was unsuccessful for it could only form seams, shorts, and straight.

John Greenough, Hunt’s countryman, after nine years, produced a working machine, in which the needle proceeds entirely through the fabric. In 1844, when an Englishman John Fisher manufactured a machine that was constructed for lace’s production, all the vitals of the modern machine came together.

In actuality, it was the sewing machine, but due to the miss-filing, the invention was overlooked during the prolonged legal quarrel between Howe and Singer. The Americans declare that in 1840, Elias Howe, Massachusetts farmer, invented the sewing machine. In 1844, Howe finished his prototype.

A year later, Howe tried to interest the tailoring trade in his development. He even set out competitions with his machine and won, but the world was not prepared for mechanized sewing. He did not make a single sale even after months of demonstration.

Howe sent his brother Amasa to England in the hope of making any sale on the other side of the Atlantic. Amasa was able to find one sponsor, William Thomas. He eventually purchased the right of the invention and made arrangements to bring Elias to London to design the machines.

Both parties could not work together, accusing one another of failing to honor the agreement. And as a result, Elias returned to America. After arriving home, he found that the sewing machine caught the eye and that several producers, including the Singer, were busy in constructing machines. All of these breached the patents of Howe.

Legal actions were taken, and a long series of accusations followed. It was settled when the companies, including Grover & Baker and Wheeler & Wilson, pooled their patents and united to save their ownerships.

Isaac Singer did not make any noticeable advancement to the sewing machine, but he introduced pioneer aggressive sale strategies and hire-purchase system. Both Howe and Singer became multi-millionaires because of their consistent hard work.

Product
Visual
Where to Buy
SINGER, 57 Applications-Perfect Made Easy | Start 1304 6 Built-in Stitches, Free Arm Best Sewing Machine for Beginners
SINGER Heavy Duty 4411 with 69 Stitch Applications, Metal Frame and Stainless Steel Bedplate Made Easy Sewing Machine, Medium
SINGER 4423 Sewing Machine, white
Brother Sewing and Quilting Machine, CS6000i, 60 Built-in Stitches, 2.0" LCD Display, Wide Table, 9 Included Sewing Feet
SINGER Heavy Duty 4432 110 Stitch Applications, Metal Frame, Stainless Steel Bedplate Made Easy Sewing Machine, Gray

 

Our Top Picks for Sewing Machines

1. Singer 1304 Free-Arm Sewing Machine

Pre-set stitch width and length, six built-in stitch choices, and quick threading make this machine ideal for beginners. It comes with six stitches to select from, including scallop for decorative trim, straight, blind hem, zig-zag, four-step buttonhole, and satin. It is an excellent machine for someone who has never used a sewing machine before.

You do not have to spend hours going through the how-to guide and manuals to use this machine. All you have to do is directly thread your bobbin, pick a stitch, and start sewing. However, if you are an experienced sewer, the lack of customizability in Singer 1305 might frustrate you.

2. Singer Heavy Duty 4411 Sewing Machine

It can be troublesome to feed heavyweight materials like burlap and denim through a sewing machine, but you can get this job done with Singer 4411 heavy-duty sewing machine. The heavy metal frame and strong motor of it make the thicker fabric to get through the needle without crushing it, which is not possible in the case of a less powerful machine.

Instead of spending extra money on the fancy machines, go for this sewing machine. It can stitch through four layers of canvas and provide plenty of features at an affordable price.

3. Singer 4423 Sewing Machine

Singer 4423 sewing machine is a smooth and delicate machine that works proficiently, even on heavy fabrics. It is entirely mechanical and can do all types of stitches you want to make or need.

The machine provides 23 stitches; 12 decorative, 4 stretch, 6 basics, and one-step buttonhole, but its heavy-duty mechanical design makes it a workhorse. Moreover, it can make 1,100 stitches in a minute, which can help you in completing your projects faster.

The kit comes with a spool pin felt, quilting guide, a soft-sided dust cover, bobbins, auxiliary spool pin, needles, seam ripper/lint brush, needles, and all-purpose, button sewing feet, zipper, and buttonhole. It is all offered at an affordable price. The only con of this machine is that it has two speeds and 23 stitches, which might be less for some sewing  enthusiasts.

4. Brother Sewing and Quilting Machine Cs6000i

The number of stitches it can deal with, and extras are what make this sewing machine exceptional. It has an oversized table attachment that is manufactured for larger projects and quilting. It has eight quilting feet to select from along with 60 stitches, including seven buttonholes on the LCD screen.

Moreover, speed control, auto-threading, and pedal-free stitching make it effortless for the beginners to use. Extensive table, foot holder quilt guide, and the spring-action quilting foot, all make this machine ideal for quilting projects. Uncomplicated threading of needle and bobbing is another admired feature.

5. Singer Heavy Duty 4432 110 Stitch Metal Frame Sewing Machine

This heavy-duty sewing machine is a workhorse as it has enough power to go smoothly through several layers of fabric. If you are someone who has to sew for hours a day, then this machine is ideal for you. To use it, you would have to read the manual and make adjustments to the settings, but once you get the hang of it, you will get flawless performance out of this machine.

With Singer 4432 sewing machine, you can go from stitching fur and silk to denim and canvas in a single setting.

Final Words

From using veins as a thread and antlers as a needle in the Stone Age to making the latest sewing tools, the world of sewing has evolved a lot. Brands like Singer and Bernina are always making sure to provide technologically advanced machines to help make people’s life much convenient.