Sewing Fan

The History of Sewing Machine

History of Sewing Machine

Once in the distant past, one of the women, our ancestors, took up a sharp bone and used it to pierce the hole in the skin – thus the sewing story began…

In 1814, the Austrian tailor Josef Maderspager invented a needle with an eye at the point, patented it, and decided to go further: create the complete sewing machine. Having received financial support from his government, the Austrian tailor worked on the development of his machine until 1839 but he couldn’t create anything worthwhile. Perhaps the tailor didn’t have the technical wit, perhaps technical knowledge, and perhaps – simple luck. But the fact remains that state money was wasted.


Needle with an eye at the base, used in the sewing machine was invented by an Austrian tailor Josef Madersbager

History of Sewing Machine – The beginning

The design of the first sewing machine was proposed in the 15th century by Leonardo da Vinci but it remained unclaimed. Already in the XVIII century, the German inventor managed to obtain a patent for the machine that simulated the sewing of fabrics manually. Then the Englishman invented the machine with a manual drive to sew boots. At the same time, the workpiece for boots had to be moved by hand while sewing. The French went further and invented the chain-weaving machine from one thread.

Inventor Bartolomi Timonyo not only created the world’s first working sewing machine but even opened in 1831 a small garment factory near Paris. Eighty-mounted machines Timonyo began to sew a uniform for French soldiers.

The enterprise turned out to be successful. Workers sewing on a typewriter coped with orders several times faster than workers from neighboring factories sewing with a needle in the old manner. Orders fell down on Timonyo as from a cornucopia. But the factory was not destined to consolidate the success. Tailors who worked nearby and sewed by hand felt threatened and crushed the factory. Timonyo tried several times to start all over again but the setbacks pursued him and, in the end, he surrendered and died in poverty, leaving no descendants even with drawings of his offspring.

The inventor of the sewing machine with the hook was the American, Ellias Howe. Created by him in 1845, the machine was also not ideal but still fit for sewing more than all the machines before it. The material, pinned on the hairpins of the transporter, moved vertically in it, and the needle moved horizontally. The shuttle made the movement like a loom.

Elias Howe

Elias Howe. This American mechanic was the first to create a machine that made a double stitch at a speed of up to 300 stitches per minute

Scientific American magazine immediately noted the machine as “extraordinary.” But apart from the “Scientific American” journalists, Howe’s invention surprised few people. Tailors sewing with the help of new items turned out to be a wonder, they preferred to do it manually, and they didn’t hurry to buy a sewing machine.

For three years, the inventor unsuccessfully tried to draw public attention to himself and his “offspring” in America. Then he decided to try his luck in England. But in Britain, a novelty was waiting for failure. Virtually ruined, Elias Howe was forced to return to America, where he suddenly discovered that his invention was successfully sold. However, the author of the popular sewing machine is not he but the other inventor.

first sewing machines

One of the first sewing machines.


Improvement of the sewing machine was undertaken by other inventors. In the machines of Wilson and Singer, which appeared in the 1950s, the needle moved vertically. The fabric was placed horizontally and was pressed with a foot, and it was moved by means of a gear wheel. These machines were equipped with a foot drive, which freed the hands of seamstresses. The sewing machine was almost perfect, allowing you to make a long seam.

So, September 12, 1851, Singer received a patent, which later brought him millions. He took wealthy lawyer Edward Clarke a companion, and together they organize “I. M. Singer & Company. ” Although the price of a sewing machine was great at that time ($ 100), the business of the new firm immediately went up the hill, thanks to the ingenious intelligence and ingenuity of its owners. Invented by Singer and Clarke network marketing and sales system “in installments” contributed to an unprecedented increase in sales.

But in 1854 the company received a summons to the court. Elias Howe, seeing that the “Singer” design uses the principles of work patented by him, wanted to get his share of the company’s revenues. A successful company had to defend itself. Speaking at the trial of one of the directors of the firm, and part-time lawyer Edward Clarke, was fiery: “Of course, Singer is not as talented as Howe but was the invention of the latter in demand? He could not bring this design to mind but Singer could. It was he who connected a lot of private findings into a single whole! ”

On the outcome of the case, Clarke’s fiery speech was not affected. The court granted the suit of Elias Howe and ruled that he was the ideological author of all sewing machines produced in the United States. Similarly, the court ordered “I. M. Singer & Co “to pay $ 25 from each product sold by the enterprise.

“War of authorship” was over, and the partners again directed all efforts to develop their business. The enterprise grew. In 1858, the firm already had 4 factories in New York State, and the output reached 3000 machines a year. By 1863, it had grown to 20,000 per year, and already in 1875, the number of manufactured products exceeded 200,000 units. Now the company was called “Singer Manufacturing Company”.

Among the inventors of sewing machines, Singer still remains the most famous. And Singer machines, made at the beginning of the last century, still work and do not break down. In addition, the far-sighted Singer in his sewing machine patented only one – a needle with an eye at the tip, since a two-thread seam could only come out with such a needle, regardless of the drive mechanism.

Seamstress working on the Singer machine

Late XIX century. Seamstress working on the “Singer” machine.

But few people know that the American Walter Hunt even before Singer invented his machine, but, listening to remorse, regretted the thousands of tailors who might remain unemployed, and didn’t pat it. As a result, in 1846 a patent for a very close to a modern machine that could do about 300 stitches per minute was obtained by Elias Howe. His ideas were taken as a basis by Isaac Singer, who, having made a number of improvements in the Howe machine, began production in America and Europe.

At the end of the XIX century, the “Singer Manufacturing Company” began to produce competitors to itself. The offices that produce sewing machines of their own production, with insignificant differences, began to breed like flies. “Pfaff”, “Veritas”, “Kaizer”, “Husqvarna” – that’s just a small fraction of the firms that appeared on the market at that time. Most of them exist to this day.

The rivalry between manufacturers gave impetus to the further development of machines. At the end of the XIX century, the whole of the XX century, and today the constant technology race continues. “Singer”, “Pfaff”, “Elna”, “Brother”, “Toyota”, “Janome”, “Husqvarna” … These “whales” fought and struggle among themselves, come up with new functions, improve old ones, register more and more patents, many designers are working on the appearance of machines. And as a result, it turned out that we can see now on the shelf in any home appliance store.

Step forward

The first sewing machines were universal and were used for sewing a wide variety of products regardless of the material to be sewn. Monotonous work on such machines led to rapid fatigue. The process of finding ways to ease the work of seamstresses led to the creation of sewing machines that specialize in certain operations.

A modern sewing machine is whole fireworks of ways and a combination of possibilities. Could our grandmothers have dreamed of different decorative stitches, when their sewing machines were able to scribble only in a straight line? Sewing machines of the next generation were already able to perform a zigzag.


Sewing machines of the new generation can be divided into several types by the drive method:

  • mechanical;
  • electric;
  • electronic.

The simplest are mechanical sewing machines, manual and foot, driven by mechanical action on the levers. These machines have very few functions.

Electric sewing machines are powered by an electric motor. This model is still popular with the older generation due to its ease of use and a set of standard functions.

The most modern and advanced dressmakers prefer electronic sewing machines with an integrated microprocessor. After all, such a machine can make the most complicated lines, and even embroider a drawing of any complexity.

The modern sewing machine has changed not only the type of management but also the appearance. This can be seen on the electronic display, which helps to choose the program. And the most modern machines with electronic control are equipped with an LCD display. Types of stitches and patterns for embroidery can be added to the memory of the microprocessor program via a computer.

A modern sewing machine can make up to 100 different types of stitching, working and decorative. The design of it is more and more complicated. Now it is easy to imagine how far we have gone from the bone needles of our distant ancestress.

Sewing Fan

Sewing Fan

This blog is where we share sewing tips and inspiration. We love sewing, making, crafting and exploring our creativity. We are always learning new skills and techniques and would like to share our adventures with you all.

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