of The Sewing Machine.
receive many enquiries from students, etc. wishing to know who
invented the sewing machine.
The timeline given below shows that it is difficult to credit
any one individual with the invention of the sewing machine.
It would be better to conclude that the basic principles of
the modern machine came about through the combination of various
ideas pursued by a number of individuals working on the task.
everyday machines became commercially viable during the 1850s,
but not without the amalgamation of a number of individual key
coming together of important patents was not a smooth one. The
courts became a battleground for claim and counterclaim during
the early 1850s. The mêlée that ensued only became
resolved in 1856 with the formation of the "Sewing Machine
Combination". Wheeler Wilson & Co, I.M.Singer &
Co, Grover & Baker, and Elias Howe formed this cartel by
pooling their individual patent rights. At a stroke, the costly
litigation battles ceased.
manufacturers were allowed to produce machines under licence,
however this was expensive, and the charge that the Combination
was to blame for keeping machine prices beyond the reach of
the masses for years does hold some weight.
The Combination, which had controlled production in the US for
so many years, was finally dissolved in 1877, following the
expiration of all the key patents.
based German, Charles Frederick Weissenthal patented a two pointed
needle to be used for mechanical sewing, however there is no reference
to an accompanying machine.
cabinet maker Thomas Saint was granted a patent for a machine to
be used for boot manufacture. An awl pierced the leather and this
allowed a needle to pass through. A later attempt to replicate the
machine showed that modifications were needed for it to work.
French patent was granted to Thomas Stone and James Henderson for
a machine which attempted to imitate hand sewing.
inventor Balthasar Krems built a chain stitch machine for sewing
caps. There are no patents for the device.
tailor Josef Madersperger worked for many years on the subject,
with patents awarded between 1814-1839, but tangible success was
John Adam Dodge and John Knoles were reported to have produced a
single thread machine. There appears to be little evidence of real
success and no patents were sought.
US patent relating to sewing machines was awarded to Henry Lye.
Unfortunately all details of the specification were lost in a subsequent
fire. It is, however, unlikely to have proved a substantial claim.
first working sewing machine was built by Frenchman Barthélemy
Thimonnier. The first of three patents was awarded in 1830. Using
a barbed needle, his wooden framed machines produced a simple chain
Walter Hunt produced the first double lockstitch sewing machine.
Success was limited for it could only produce short seams in a straight
line. The device was not patented.
J Greenough of New York patented a leather stitching machine. A
working model was made and exhibited, but investment was unforthcoming
and it appears never to have gone into production.
H Corliss, also from New York, patented a machine similar to Greenaugh's,
however this device incorporated twin needles.
the same year, and again from New York, W Benjamin Bean was granted
a patent for a simple running stitch machine.
John Fisher patented a two thread machine incorporating an eye pointed
needle and a shuttle. The device was recorded as "for the production
of lace", but in actuality it encompassed all the essentials
of a sewing machine.
Howe patented a shuttle machine, the machine was to feature a curved
& grooved, eye pointed needle.
Morley and Joseph Johnson patented what in essence was the first
American chain stitch machine.
Bachelder was granted a US patent for a vertical, straight reciprocating
eye pointed needle, together with a feed mechanism and a yielding
presser foot. (These crucial patents for the development of the
modern sewing machine were eventually bought by Singer.)
in the USA, Sherburn C Blodgett patented a revolving shuttle and
automatic tension machine.
B Wilson's first patent. A reciprocating shuttle machine was envisaged.
B Wilson patented his rotary hook.
Merrit Singer's first patent - wheel feed and tensioning device.
O Grover received an American patent for his now well-known double
chain stitch machine.
developments by Allen B Wilson, this time the stationary bobbin.
B Wilson received the latest of his important patents, this time
for his four motion feed.
E A Gibbs patented a machine which incorporated the now famous chain
stitch rotary hook.
Raymond was granted a US patent for a hinged presser foot acting
as a cloth feed.
patented his important improved looper.