Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Emergence of Sewing Machines

Sewing machines are one of the great inventions credited with transforming the economies of global societies. In 1851 that Isaac Merritt Singer, after studying a poorly working example, spent $40 and 11 days to develop a practical sewing machine that used an up and down mechanism. The first Singer sewing machine was introduced for sale across the United States that same year and the company became the primary manufacturer and seller of sewing machines within two years.

Initially, sewing machines were manufactured for garment factory production lines. The industrial sewing machines are generally designed to perform a specific sewing function such as embroidery or sewing straight stitches. Machines with different functions are used to complete clothing items in a production line.

Marketing sewing machines to individuals didn't begin until 1889, allowing for women to have the means to create clothing for their family without the labor-intensive hand stitching. The domestic sewing machine used in the home is manufactured to perform many tasks from sewing straight or zigzag stitches and the creation of buttonholes, as well as stitching buttons on to the piece of clothing.

Sewing machines have been mass produced worldwide for more than two-hundred years. As a result, the wide variety of styles and manufacturers make antique sewing machines a favorite collectible. Some of the most favorite antique machines include working miniatures that were salesmen's samples that doubled as child's sewing machines specifically for use by young girls, since they were expected to learn how to sew.

All modern sewing machines run on electricity, while their predecessors were powered by a hand crank or a foot pedal operation known as a treadle. All sewing machines feature mechanical parts, however today a sewing machine that is not computerized, is referred to as a mechanical sewing machine. Electronic sewing machines sew faster and smoother while giving a better stitch. Computerized sewing machines are able to perform many standard functions for the home seamstress more efficiently and make embroidering a simple task. The price for basic, mechanical sewing machines for the home starts at $70; added features push prices up to $1,200. Computerized sewing machine pricing can start around $400 for the home machines, with top of the line models running as high as $5,000.

Most sewing machines are well built and will last for many years with only a few parts needing replacement. A great number of antique sewing machines are still in operation, but parts can be hard to find if the company is no longer in business. Typically, the manufacturer is the best location for sewing machine parts, but there are also many companies specializing in sewing machine part replacements.


For more than two centuries, innovators have been sewing themselves into the fabric of our world's economy by answering the creativity needs of the home seamstress and major designers. The human need for textiles and continued economic gain ensures that the sewing machine will continue to evolve.