Inventions
Sewing

Who invented the sewing machine?

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07/26/2017

Whilst there have been many variations of the sewing machine through the years, credit is generally given to Elias Howe. Elias Howe was employed in a machinist's shop, where he had the opportunity to experiment with inventing a sewing machine. He successfully demonstrated his first sewing machine in 1846, and patented his lockstitch sewing machine on 10 September 1846 in New Hartford, Connecticut.

Howe faced a legal battle after Isaac Singer invented the up-and-down motion mechanism, and Allen Wilson developed a rotary hook shuttle, both filing for patents. After winning one suit, the three inventors pooled their patent rights in the Sewing Machine Combination. It was under this patent that the sewing machine was then successfully marketed.

There have been a number of other contenders for the title, but none of these is generally accepted as being the "inventor" of the sewing machine. They include:

  • English inventor and cabinet maker, Thomas Saint, who was issued the first patent for a complete machine for sewing in 1790. It's unclear if he ever built it or just patented it in lieu. A replica built from his plans failed to work.
  • In 1810 German inventor Baltasar Krems invented a machine for sewing hats. The lack of a patent means the true facts of dates will never be known.
  • In Austria, Josef Madersperger was granted patent rights in 1814 or 1815 for a machine he had been perfecting since 1807. In 1841 he was awarded a bronze medal for his sewing machine, but no manufacturer was prepared to develop it. He is still regarded by Germany as the true inventor of the sewing machine.
  • The first functioning sewing machine was invented by the French tailor, Barthelemy Thimonnier, in 1830. Thimonnier's machine used only one thread and a hooked needle that made the same chain stitch used with embroidery. Unfortunately like the riots of the Luddites in England the French Tailors rioted and burnt his factory to the ground.
  • In 1834, Walter Hunt built America's first successful sewing machine.
Isaac Singer was an inventor, actor, and entrepreneur. The sewing machine was actually invented and patented long before Isaac Singer, but his machine became popular because it was "new and improved" of sorts - easier to use, more intuitive, and could also be paid for in installments.
Thomas Saint patented the sewing machine in 1790.
Whilst there have been many variations of the sewing machine through the years, credit is generally given to Elias Howe. Elias Howe was employed in a machinist's shop, where he had the opportunity to experiment with inventing a sewing machine. He successfully demonstrated his first sewing machine in 1846, and patented his lockstitch sewing machine on 10 September 1846 in New Hartford, Connecticut.

Howe faced a legal battle after Isaac Singer invented the up-and-down motion mechanism, and Allen Wilson developed a rotary hook shuttle, both filing for patents. After winning one suit, the three inventors pooled their patent rights in the Sewing Machine Combination. It was under this patent that the sewing machine was then successfully marketed.

There have been a number of other contenders for the title, but none of these is generally accepted as being the "inventor" of the sewing machine.
Thomas Saint made the first modern sewing machine.