Sewing machines have been around since the first industrial revolution. These came into existence to facilitate the production of large quantities of clothing articles for commercial purposes. Upon their creation sewing machines were only used in factories and were large in size. They helped seamstresses become more agile at sewing, hemming, and fixing garments as well as creating new ones. The first sewing machines were of industrial size and not available for home use until about five decades later.
Today most sewing machines are very similar, but in the beginning their styles and designs varied quite a bit. During the 50 or so years since the creation of the first industrial sewing machine, many attempted to improve and create new designs that could be used at home. In 1845 Elias Howe, patented a design closest to the common household sewing machine we see today. He then went to England in an attempt to get people to buy his sewing machine. While there, other men were selling machines which copied his model, among them Isaac Singer, the man we all associate with the common house sewing machine. Singer however, had improved on Howe’s design and others before him by adding the foot pedal. Yet, in a copyright lawsuit upon his arrival from England, Howe sued Singer for infringement, he won and Singer had to pay royalties for every machine sold. Shortly after losing the lawsuit against Howe, Singer joined forces with lawyer Edward Clark and began a time payment program which gave regular people the opportunity to own a sewing machine.
But it was Wilson and Wheeler who in the 1850’s and 60’s took the lead in the manufacturing of sewing machines with a quieter and softer model than all the previous models. During the first decade of Wilson and Wheeler’s dominance, many people were trying to jump on the sewing machine frenzy and were threatening to sue each other for design breach among other things. This became known as the Sewing Machine War, until in 1856 the four major companies manufacturing sewing machines signed an agreement called the Sewing Machine Combination where their patents were collective. Any one else who wanted to obtain a patent had to get a license and pay a fee per machine. This agreement expired in 1877 along with their patents.
In 1889 Singer once again made history by creating the first electrical sewing machine. Hence, Singer became a common household name. The more American homes got introduced to power the more American people wanted to have electrical devices, and a sewing machine was not the exception. Today, most home sewing machines are pretty simple and similar in design, yet the path to these designs was a rather bumpy and controversial one. Had it not been for the vision of one man who was trying to facilitate the creating of clothes for the textile industry, the sewing machine may have a whole different history today! So, we can easily say that the modern day sewing machine’s predecessor is another one of those devices that came into existence as a result of the first industrial revolution