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Sewing Machine Madness

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I was at Sustainable Living Lab (have you visited yet?) a few days before Christmas trying to work on their antique sewing machine. No matter how hard I tried to peddle it, I could not get to grips with what my mum and grandma have been using since they were kids. Apparently, my hand, eye and feet coordination are not good at all. Hats off to my mum, gran and other tailors who are still using this type of machine!

Do you have any antique sewing machine tips to share?






History of the Sewing Machine

Sewing machines were made with the intent of mass-producing clothes. Back then all clothes were made by hand. 

Interestingly enough, the sewing machine was invented earlier than I thought it was. I was thinking possibly 1900s, but in fact the first mechanical sewing machine was invented in the 1700s.  It wasn't until 1830 when the first fully functional sewing machine appeared.  This contraption replicated sewing by hand, and was invented by French tailor, Barthelemy Thimonnier. Using his invention, he opened the first machine-based garment factory in the world, with the intention of making army uniforms. However, in fear of being replaced by the machine and losing their trade, a group of tailors burnt down the premises. Although, Thimonnier improved his invention and gained recognition and praise for it, use of the machine did not spread, and Thimonnier died in poverty.

I think the turning point to the history of the sewing machine, was in1846 when Mr. Elias Howe devised a machine with "a process that used thread from two different sources." creating a lockstitch. Sound familiar?    

By 1850,  Mr. Isaac Singer (yes, THE Mr. Singer) built the first commercially successful machine, which incorporated a needle moving up and down (a first in sewing machines), a foot pedal (another first as the earlier machines were hand-cranked) and the lockstitch, which Mr. Howe had patented. So, a patent war broke out between Singer and Howe, of which Howe won rights to the profits generated from the Singer machine.

Did you know?
Sewing machines for the home were only available in 1889.
Electrically-powered sewing machines were available by 1905!
Helen Augusta Blanchard patented the first zig-zag stitch machine in 1873.




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Abdelghafour

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4 comments

  1. My mum still using this. Back then I did too, yes! Not easy.

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    1. And they can make all the fancy things without the gadgets you can find on our electric ones!

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  2. There's one of this sitting in my mum's house. I remember using it to sew when I started home econs lessons in school. You've got to FEEL it, get the momentum going by hand, then the feet start pedalling to take over when it feels right. Not sure I can still operate this now though :p

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    1. I have no momentum! I guess it needs practice like everything else ;-)

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