Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Celebrating your favorite tool!

Today we celebrate the sewing machine! 

As quilters, sewers, or just plain fabric lovers, where would we be without this amazing tool? 
(Well, we'd still stitching by hand, which is great too, but...) 

From the early days of improving stitch efficiency to today's high tech options of computerized long arm quilting machines and embroidery machines, the sewing machine has changed this art form forever.

Did you know that the history of the sewing machine contains more twists and turns than you might imagine? Keep reading for a brief summary of some interesting facts (you'll be prepared for any sewing machine trivia thrown at you at your next guild meeting!):

When was the sewing machine first invented?
An Englishman named Thomas Saint invented and patented the first sewing machine design for leather and canvas in 1790, but no evidence remains that he created a working model, and attempts to recreate his design were unsuccessful. 

French inventor Barthelemy Thimonnier patented a sewing machine that replicated hand sewing in 1830, and planned to use it to make uniforms for French soldiers--the first machine-based clothing manufacturer in the world. Click here to read more, including why the factory was burned down before he ever started.

Why do we celebrate on September 10?
In 1846, Elias Howe received a U.S. patent for his sewing machine design on this date. 
Read more about his design, including a story about how he came up with the idea of placing the needle eye near the tip based on a dream that included a savage king, warriors, and death threats (seriously!), here.
Howe's sewing machine included three key features we still use today:

  • a needle with the eye at the point,
  • a shuttle operating beneath the cloth to form the lock stitch, and
  • an automatic feed.

You can read more of the history of sewing machines here, from the International Sewing Machine Collectors' Society.

Have you hugged your sewing machine today?!

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  1. I received a wonderful book a few years back from Singer on the history of sewing machines. It was filled with amazing stories and what is truly amazing is that no matter how fancy or expensive your machine is that you use, they all basically operate the way they did many many years ago!

  2. I'm heading up to hug my longarm right now!!! Interesting information!

  3. My MIL always used an old treadle machine to make anything, clothes, coats, drapes, you name it. She was a fabulous sewer. I often wonder what she would think of today's computerized machines.

  4. Rosemary B here:
    I do love my sewing machine...s
    lol I have 8 but I do not use them all.
    One is a Janome Hello Kitty. It is my daughters. She needs to come and get it
    Next is a White, that belongs to my oldest daughter.
    Then there is the Singer 386 (I think that's the #) that is my mom's I do not like it much so it is "in storage"
    Singer 237, meh. nice but kinda boring.
    Singer 15-91: needs new wiring and motor clean up
    Singer Featherweight 1948 - I love her
    Mary, a Singer 301A, I love her too.
    Lastly there is Gertrude, a German Singer 316G. She is my mom's first machine. I love Gertie. She needs a spa day.
    Quilting Granny is correct, they all operate the same way.
    All of mine are mechanical.
    Thanks for this History lesson today
    Happy Sewing Machine day

  5. I learnt to sew on a treadle machine. I have 5 machines, a Bernina Viruosa 150 QE, which needs to go in for repair(foot pedal stopped working, A very basic Janome, a very small Janome (only does light sewing) and 2 handcranks, one of which is a Singer but hasn'r been used for years, the other was my grandmother's but is not in working order. Our new sewing shop in town will look at my handcranks (he's a Singer nut) to see if they can be put back in working order

  6. I have two Pfaff 1475 CD machines and one Pfaff 1471. I love my Pfaff!