The Sewing Machine in History

Did you know that the first design for a sewing machine was made in 1790? An inventor named Thomas Saint first designed the machine, but his design never saw the public eye.

It wasn’t until the 19th century that sewing machines reached the public. Even then, women were hesitant to take up the machines even though they would drastically speed up the sewing process. Women were considered too delicate to use anything mechanical like the sewing machine.


Eias Howe’s design.

Elias Howe patented the first lock-stitch sewing machine in 1846. He got a $5-per-machine royalty, making him a rich man, but the sewing machine still did not reach the mainstream.

The clever marketing of Isaac Singer slowly won women over. He traveled from town to town and let women test out the machine for themselves, showing that the machines were much easier than rumors let on. In fact, these original sewing machines had the same basic features as sewing machines today.

At the time a new sewing machine cost as much as a car today. But Singer’s natural charm and business sense made it work. He explained the benefits of the mechanical sewing machine (should be obvious, I expect) and used an at-the-time innovative payment method of a down payment with subsequent payment over time.

Housewives still valued their hand sewing, but slowly and surely the sewing machine grew in popularity. Like many modern inventions, it greatly reduced the amount of time spent on housework. Where it took about 14 hours to make a dress shirt by hand, it took only an hour and 15 minutes to make on a machine. This allowed women more leisure time, or time spent working to increase family income.

Antique sewing machines make amazing home displays, making them fun to collect. Interested in the sewing machine in the top picture? Click here.



Antique Quilt Dating


History of Quilts

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