Wednesday, July 29, 2020

First sewing machine

People started sewing as long as 20,000 years ago, during the last Ice Age. Archaeologists have discovered bone needles with eyes, used to sew together skins and furs, dating back to this time. The first sewing needles were made of bones or animal horns and the first thread was of animal sinew. Iron needles were invented in the 14th century. The first eyed needles appeared in the 15th century.

In 1790, an Englishman, Thomas Saint, invented and patented the first sewing machine. Thomas Saint, the cabinetmaker was issued the patent 1,764 on July 17, 1790. Along with accounts of several processes for making various varnish compositions, the patent contains descriptions of three separate machines; the second of these was for “stitching, quilting, or sewing.” Though far from practical, the machine incorporated several features common to a modern sewing machine.

Earlier, in 1755, Karl Weisenthal, a German inventor, devised the first sewing macine needle, but did not produce a complete machine. Saint's machine, which was designed to sew leather and canvas, mainly on boots, used only a single thread and formed a chain stitch. It was also the prototype for all modern sewing machines that available today.

The first practical and widely used sewing machine was patented in France by Barthélemy Thimonnier, a French tailor, on July 17, 1830. The machine is made of wood and uses a barbed needle which passes downward through the cloth to grab the thread and pull it up to form a loop to be locked by the next loop. Like Thomas Saint's machine, it produced a chain stitch. By 1841, eighty of his machines were being used to sew uniforms for the French army.

This business opportunity had not only brought him a huge fortune but it also marked the beginning of a near disaster. Other tailors realized that Thimonnier’s business was a threat to their tailoring careers, and would result in them losing their tailoring businesses. They went to the extent of not only destroying Thimonnier’s factory but also nearly causing his death.

In 1874, William Newton Wilson found Saint's drawings of a sewing machine manufacturer in the London Patent Office, made adjustments to the looper, and built a working machine.
First sewing machine
Saint’s sewing machine

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