The First Machines

The First Machines


The origins of the first sewing machine come to us from Europe during the end of the eighteenth century. There were many different ideas and styles of machine, but the man who takes credit for the first working sewing machine is Thomas Saint 1790. Thomas Saint was an English inventor whose sewing machine used the chain stitch method. The chain stitch is where the machine uses a single thread and is a simple stitch. Saint’s machine was primarily used on leather to make saddles, bridles, and other leather goods. It was also popular in sewing canvas for making sails. Saint’s sewing machine was fairly useful and accepted, but like all new inventions there was a need for improvement.


Example of Chain stitch


In France a man named Barthelemy Thimonnier was next in the race for a practical and working sewing machine. In 1829 he put his machine to work in a factory, but this machine could not handle the work load and the workers in the factory broke machines because they felt the machine could take away their jobs. Thimonnier’s machine used a hook-tipped needle that moved up and down using foot power and returned to the start position by a spring.


Walter Hunt was an American inventor who created a sewing machine that used an eye-pointed needle and the new idea of the oscillating shuttle. Hunt’s machine is considered to be the first working lock stitch style created about 1834. This idea applied to Hunt’s machine was a great improvement which made that style easily “adaptable to the sewing machine over traditional hand stitching”. The one mistake Walter Hunt made was he failed to patent his ideas and inventions, and so his ideas became fair game.

Example of the Lockstitch

As the years passed the sewing machine started to grow in popularity and with each new model the improvements to the machine kept getting better. None of the early sewing machines had all the elements to make it something useable and reliable. By the time 1846 came around the first practical and working sewing machine was born. The man credited for that invention was Elias Howe Jr.

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