This week saw the celebration of Sewing Machine Day, an annual occasion that calls on stitchers to show their sewing machine some love! For the past 200 years these machines have been making our lives a lot easier and more creative, not to mention helping empower many people across the world. In this blog post, we decided to look at the colourful history of the sewing machine, and how it has changed over the years.
Sewing Machines: A History
Sewing, in some form or another, has existed for around 20,000 years. The very first needles were made from bone and animal horns, and the thread was formed from animal sinew – luckily things have progressed since then!
With the arrival of the Industrial Revolution, people started to look for alternatives to manual sewing in factories. An Englishman named Thomas Saint was the first to design and patent the sewing machine, in 1790. His design was a far cry from the machines we know and love today – it was powered with a hand crank, intended for use on leather and canvas.
After many unsuccessful attempts by other inventors, finally a French tailor named Barthelemy Thimonnier invented the first successful and widely-used machine. He used a hooked needle and one thread – creating a chain stitch!
Thimonnier’s invention almost cost him his life though – after other French tailors got wind of his invention, they burned down his factory whilst he was still inside, fearing for their livelihoods. In fact, an inventor who created America’s first sewing machine decided not to go ahead with his patent, as he feared it would cause mass unemployment!
Over the years, the machine developed and advanced – most notably with Isaac Singer in 1851, a name that we still know and love today! So there you have it – the stitchy history of the sewing machine in a nutshell. Where would we be without them?