facts about the invention of the
Sewing Machine by Elias Howe in 1846.
AT A GLANCE:
In the early 1800s, clothing was made by hand, families sewed their
pants, shirts, and dresses using a needle and thread. But in 1846 Elias
Howe changed all that, he came up
with another way to make clothes, he patented the first practical
sewing machine..The sewing machine industry based on his original invention
made possible the mass production of clothing on a much larger scale
than had ever been possible with hand-stitching.
HOW IT WORKS
DID YOU KNOW?
using a needle and thread to join or repair material. Primarily used
in the making of clothing.
||4,750 (US) issued
September 10, 1846
||First practical. Entrepreneur.
||July 10, 1819 in Spencer,
||October 3, 1867 in
Brooklyn, New York
1755 Charles T. Wiesenthal, designed and patented a double pointed
1826 On March 10, Henry Lye received a patent for a device for sewing
1830 Barthelemy Thimonnier used a wheel-driven connecting rod that drove
the needle up and down
1834 Walter Hunt designed a double-thread shuttle machine
1846 Elias Howe invented and patented the first Automatic Sewing Machine
for practical operation.
1849 Benjamin Wilson introduced an automatic feeding system.
1851 Isaac Merritt Singer Invented introduced the first sewing machine
scaled for home use.
1854 Isaac Singer patent (US No.10975) issued May 30, for the home
1854 Allen Wilson had developed an improved reciprocating shuttle
1855 Wilson went into business with Nathaniel Wheeler to produce a
rotary hook instead of a shuttle
1856 Patent Combine formed, consisting of Singer, Howe, Wheeler &
Wilson, and Grover & Baker.
1889 The first practical electric sewing machine introduced by the
Singer Sewing Machine Co.
1900 Singer claims 80% worldwide market share in sewing machines
CAPs: Elias Howe, Isaac Merritt Singer, Charles T. Wiesenthal, Henry Lye,
Barthelemy Thimonnier, Walter Hunt, Alan Wilson, Nathaniel Wheeler.
sewing machine, clothing, thread, needle, invention, history,
inventor of, history of, who invented, invention of, fascinating
In the early 1800s, most people
didn't have the money, not to mention a choice of stores in which to buy
clothes for themselves and their families. At that time, everything was made
by hand. Families sewed their pants, shirts, and dresses using a needle and
thread. But Elias Howe changed all that, he came up
with another way to make clothes. He patented the first practical
sewing machine in 1846.
In 1846, the idea of
a sewing machine was nothing new. The first patents for such a machine
had been granted in England in 1755, in Austria in 1819, the U.S. in
1826 and France in 1830..Early sewing machines were designed for
In 1755, the American inventor Charles T. Wiesenthal,
designed and patented a double pointed needle to eliminate the need for turning the needle
around with each stitch. Henry Lye, of Philadelphia, obtained a patent
March 10,1826, for an invention for sewing leather; but no record or
model has been found, to indicate the principle of the contrivance.
In 1830, Barthelemy Thimonnier
of Saint-Etienne, France, used the double-pointed needle as the basis
for the first sewing machine put to practical use. He attached the
needle to a wheel-driven connecting rod that drove the needle up and
down. In 1834, American Walter Hunt designed a double-thread shuttle
machine. In 1849, Hunt also patented, but failed to profit from,
the safety pin.
Elias Howe was born
in Spencer, Massachusetts, on the July 10, 1819. Upon completion of
schooling he started a job as a machinist, a position that was chosen
for him. Howe first heard the term sewing machine while working in
Boston for Ari Davis, who made and repaired precision instruments. People
had been trying to invent such a device for half a century in America and
abroad, without any great success. His brain labored and his hands toiled to
develop and perfect his invention; and there it was that, early in the
month of April 1845, after five years of unremitting toil and ceaseless
devotion to the task, the first Automatic Sewing Machine was constructed
and finished for practical operation. His papers were filed as a
caveat in the patent office, September 22nd, 1845, and his application
for a patent was completed May 17th, 1846. It was granted September
In 1851, Isaac Merritt Singer, a machinist from
Boston, Massachusetts, introduced the first sewing machine scaled for
home use. Singer's patent (US 10, 975) was issued May 30, 1854.
Although Singer’s early machines were based on Howe’s concept, he later
patented the rigid arm for holding the needle and a vertical bar to hold
the cloth down against the upward stroke of the needle.
Meanwhile Mr. Allen Wilson had developed a
reciprocating shuttle, which was an improvement over Singer’s and
Howe’s. However, John Bradshaw had patented a similar device and was
threatening to sue. Wilson decided to change tack and try a new method.
He went into partnership with Nathaniel Wheeler to produce a machine
with a rotary hook instead of a shuttle. This was far quieter and
smoother than the other methods .
Through the 1850s more and more companies were
being formed and were trying to sue each other. Howe brought suit against Singer for patent
infringement and won, forcing Singer and other companys to pay him
royalties. In 1856 the Sewing
Machine Combination was formed, consisting of Singer, Howe, Wheeler and
Wilson, and Grover and Baker. These four companies pooled their patents,
meaning that all the other manufacturers had to obtain a license and pay
$15 per machine. This lasted until 1877 when the last patent expired.
Singer went on to developed the continuous stitch machine and he founded
the Singer Sewing Machine Company, which became one of the world’s
largest manufacturers of personal sewing machines. The first electric
sewing machine, a Singer, for the home was introduced in 1889.
Before he died in 1867 Howe was collecting royalties of more than four
thousand dollars a week and he had realized about $2,000,000 in total
royalties. The sewing machine industry based on his original invention made
possible the mass production of clothing on a much larger scale than had
ever been possible with hand-stitching. By 1905, Americans all over the
country were beginning to sew with electrically powered machines. Today
sewing machines in manufacturing plants use computer technology to create
customized clothing with little human intervention.
from The Great Idea Finder
History of Household Items
from The Great Idea Finder
ON THE BOOKSHELF:
Inventions That Shaped World History
by Bill Yenne, Morton, Dr. Grosser (Editor) / Paperback - 112
pages (1993) / Bluewood Books
This book contains inventions from all around the world from microchips to fire. This is a
really good book if you are going to do research on inventions.
Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things
by Charles Panati / Paperback - 480 pages Reissue edition
(September 1989) / HarperCollins
Discover the fascinating stories behind the origins of over 500 everyday items,
expressions and customs.
by Travis Brown / Paperback - 224 pages / Scarecrow Press (September
Eighty stories of America's first inventions. Each includes a sketch of the invention, a
profile of the inventor and a glimpse of how the invention has found its way into American
Great inventions (Limited availability)
by Richard Wood / Hardcover - 64 pages / Barnes and Noble (2003)
This a dynamic reference book for children. Detailed and lively descriptions
of the world's exciting inventions.
More Work for Mother:The Ironies of Household Technology from the Open
Hearth to the Microwave
by Ruth Schwartz Cowan / Paperback Reprint edition (February 1985) / Basic Books (Sd)
Inventions such as washing machines, cotton cloth, and even white flour acted as catalysts
by giving the less well-off a chance at the comforts the prosperous already possessed, but
in general it was men and children whose chores were relieved by these innovations.
ON THE SCREEN:
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DVD / 1 Volume Set / 50 Minutes / History Channel / Less than $25.00
HOUSEHOLD WONDERS tells the story of seven taken-for-granted inventions
that make modern life comfy, fast and clean: the stove, sewing machine,
refrigerator, air conditioner, washing machine, vacuum cleaner, toaster
ON THE WEB:
Machine Collector's Society
Everything Sewing Machine. The World's Most Expensive Sewing Machine and The World's Most
Expensive Toy Sewing Machine. Contains an extensive history section that
presents various views on who nvented the sewing machine. From the International Sewing Machine Collectors' Society.
Inventors Hall of Fame
The National Inventors Hall of Fame™ honors the women and men
responsible for the great technological advances that make human, social
and economic progress possible.
Singer Company History
After 11 days and forty dollars in cost, Singer completed his invention: the
world's first practical sewing machine. This machine had a straight
eye-pointed needle and transverse shuttle, an overhanging arm, a table to
support the cloth, a presser foot to hold the material against the upward
stroke of the needle, and a roughened feed wheel extending through a slot in
Elias Howe & Isaac Merritt Singer
Funded by a mortgage
on his father's farm, Howe went to court and began to sue the infringers.
After years of legal battles, his patent was upheld in 1854, and Singer was
ordered to pay fifteen thousand dollars in back royalties
Have You Ever Used a
In 1889, an electric sewing machine for use in the home was designed and
marketed by Singer. By 1905, Americans all over the country were beginning
to sew with electrically powered machines. Today sewing machines in
manufacturing plants use computer technology to create customized clothing
with little human intervention.
National Museum of
American History, Smithsonian Institution
Sewing Machine patented May 30, 1854 patent number 10975, invented by Isaac M. Singer.
HOW IT WORKS:
The sewing machine had a straight eye-pointed needle and
transverse shuttle, an overhanging arm, a table to support the cloth, a
presser foot to hold the material against the upward stroke of the needle,
and a roughened feed wheel extending through a slot in the table. Motion was
communicated to the needle arm and shuttle by means of gears. Issac Singer
also conceived the idea of using a treadle similar to that of a spinning
wheel; all other machines at the time used a hand crank to generate power.
DID YOU KNOW?:
- The first United States patent for a practical sewing machine
was awarded to Elias Howe Jr.., on September 10, 1846. The number was 4,750.
- At 250 stitches a minute, Howe's machine
could outsew the fastest of hand sewers
In an 1845 demonstration, Howe's invention out-sewed five seamstresses
first Singer sewing machines, manufactured in New York, sold for $100
each in 1853
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