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Did you know tips for June 2002 - the history of sewing, sewing machines, and many other aspects of the sewing industry:
  • The history of the sewing machine dates back to as early as 1755, when Charles Weisenthal patented a double pointed sewing needle to be used for mechanical sewing.
  • Sewing changed dramatically around 1844, when Elias Howe was credited with a prototype of today's sewing machine.
  • On September 10, 1846, Elias Howe patented the lock-stitch sewing machine. The patent number was 4750.
  • 1851 saw the introduction of a sewing machine for home use by Isaac Merrit Singer, a name now associated with sewing on an everyday basis.
  • The safety pin, an item we all use when sewing, basting, and spot mending, was invented around 1849 by a gentleman named Walter Hunt. He patented the brass pin and then sold the rights for around four hundred dollars. It is a sure bet that someone, not Mr. Hunt, became very wealthy from this very invention.
  • Walter Hunt, the inventor of the safety pin, also built one of the first sewing machines in America. At the time, the early 1830s, Mr. Hunt saw the sewing machine as a job eliminator, lost interest in such a machine, and move on to something else.
  • Sewing dates back about 20,000 years. Needles were first made of animal horns and bone. Thread was crafted from animal sinew. Archeologists have discovered needles with eyes from this period. It is believed that sewing was primarily to connect animal furs.
  • The invention of the sewing machine increased the demand for textile products and was unique in that it was one of the first home use devices or appliances.
  • The thimble dates back to 202 BC to AD 220 as Chinese archaeologists report finding a sewing set complete with thimble from that period.
  • Early sewing machine marketing touted the device as the Queen of Inventions. It offered the promise of relief from hours of tedious hand sewing. The costs, though, were out of range of most households. Communities chipped in to purchase a machine for many to use, but eventually, payment plans took hold, bringing to the home consumer the option of buying on time.
  • Theory has it that the home sewing machine, in a roundabout fashion, diminished the role of the homemaker and was one of the catalysts for women seeking work outside the home. Labor saving devices including the sewing machine, washing machine, and others limited the hours needed to run a household. Sewing a garment went from 14 hours to about 2, leaving free time for other activities.
  • Sewing by machine also provided a way for some women to take in work at home, providing some extra income to their growing families. The homesteaders heading out west also used sewing as a way to make a bit of money, working as community dressmakers. Sewing is told to be, in diaries of western bound women, the most common domestic activity.
  • "The Land Rover vehicle has history in the sewing machine. The Coventry Sewing Machine Company established in 1881 later became the Rover Motor Company, which was later bought by the company which now produces the Land Rover.
  • A.B. Wilson developed the automatic feed device for the sewing machine. Prior to 1850, the feeding of fabric through the machine might be accomplished by a device that resembled a belt with small spikes on it.
  • The rotary bobbin and hook were also invented by A. B. Wilson.
  • Prior to 1850, all sewing machines were operated by hand. It took Isaac Singer to invent the foot treadle and make the work a little less cumbersome.
  • As early as 1897, the Sears catalog offered sewing machines for sale via mail order.
  • In 1997, an auction house in London sold the most expensive sewing machine ever, to the tune of $41,000. It was a Wheeler and Wilson type of machine that was created for the German Royal Family around 1865.
  • Henry Leland, best known for his work in Detroit and with the Cadillac and Lincoln companies, first made sewing machines for Brown & Sharpe in the 1870s after working other positions involving machines.
  • Between 1887 and 1897, a bicycle fad was in motion. Many sewing machine companies began producing bicycles at that time.
  • The invention of scissors can be traced back to the earliest incarnation - the lever - first described by Archimedes around 260 BC.
  • Scissors made of one piece of metal - not the two-blade lever action scissors - have been found in ancient Egyptian ruins from as far back as 1500 BC.
  • Modern cross blade scissors were invented in Rome in about 100 AD. The common use of scissors began in about the 1500s AD in Europe.
  • Filmmaker Tim Burton had a life-long fascination with scissors, calling them an interesting invention. His interest in scissors prompted the creation of his movie Edward Scissorhands.
  • In the end, it is Leonardo da Vinci who is credited with the invention of scissors, supposedly to cut canvas that did not please him when he was painting. He apparently was a very picky painter and wanted only the best parts to show.
  • In short, the invention of the sewing machine changed the way we live. As the first major time saving device in the home, we shifted our work priorities. Sewing has been with us almost always and will be with us for almost forever. We think you can count on that if nothing else.
Some of our resources and references were:

http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventions/story065.htm and http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventions/story019.htm from IdeaFinder.com.

The business of sewing machine invention and changes made: http://www.neo-tech.com/businessmen/part6.html

Elias Howe biography.

About.com's information about sewing machine invention.

Cites early sewing machine invention by Thomas Saint.

Varied opinions on sewing machine inventions.

Lever/scissors connection, early scissor information.

DaVinci inventing scissors.

Elias Howe biography.

Information about early machines.

There is a wee bit of controversy over the history of the sewing machine and the patent that was given thereafter. Howe and Singer are the two big names, but I thought it would be more interesting for you to read for yourself, so I am leaving you with this link:

Invention of the Sewing Machine Search on Google

This leads to several sites with the history of the sewing machine and probably can answer your questions better than I can.

(Links reviewed 09/2004)






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