We all wear clothes either readymade or from stitched somewhere. It is quite obvious that to make out a dress from factory manufactured cloth, cutting and stitching is required. Sewing machine is a great invention for the ease of stitching. It takes just few hours to make any kind of dress which generally took few days when there was no sewing machine. It has reduced the labour cost and is more efficient than earlier. Let us have a view over the history of sewing machine invention.
Before 1755, there is no mention of any kind of invention related to sewing in history. It was in 1755 in London where a German immigrant, Charles Weisenthal, took out a patent for a needle. He used it for mechanical sewing. After another 34 years there was no invention in this field. Englishman Thomas Saint’s invention is generally considered to be the first real sewing machine.
In 1790 the cabinet maker patented a machine. It had an awl which made a hole in leather and then allowed a needle to pass through in order to stitch leather. Evidences says that Saint only patented an idea and that machine was never built. It is known that when an attempt to make such a machine from Saint's patented idea, it would not work without considerable modification.
Now the story moves to Germany where, in around 1810, inventor Balthasar Krems developed a machine for sewing caps.
An Austrian tailor Josef Madersperger produced a series of machines during the early years of the 19th century and received a patent in 1814. Two more inventions were patented in 1804, one in France to a Thomas Stone and a James Henderson for a machine which attempted to emulate hand sewing and second was a Scottian John Duncan who made an embroidery machine using a number of needles.
In 1818, a Vermont churchman John Adams Doge and his partner John Knowles invented a device which could sew a very short length of material which was not possible earlier.
Real or actual inventor of the sewing machine must be Barthelemy Thimonnier who, in 1830, was granted a patent by the French government. He used a barbed needle for his machine which was built almost entirely of wood. It is said that he originally designed the machine to do embroidery, but then saw its potential as a sewing machine.
He was able to convince the authorities of the usefulness of his invention and was eventually given a contract to made a batch of such machines and use them to sew uniforms for the French army.
Here Thimonnier established a factory running with 80 machines, but then ran into trouble from Parisian tailors. If his machines were successful there was a fear among the laborers that they will become workless and will get no wages for hand stitching.
Late one night a group of tailors stormed the factory and destroyed every machine. With a new partner he started again, produced a vastly- improved machine and was set to go into full-scale production; but the tailors attacked again. Thimonnier took a little help from the police or army in france and fled to England with the one machine he was able to salvage.
He certainly produced the first practical sewing machine. He was the first man to offer machines for sale on a commercial basis and ran the first garment factory. For all that, he died in the poor house in 1857.
In 1833, America a quaker Walter Hunt invented the first machine which made a lock stitch using two spools of thread and incorporated an eye-pointed needle as used today. But again it was unsuccessful .
Nine years later Hunt's countryman, John Greenough, invented a working machine in which the needle passed completely through the cloth.
In early 1844, Englishman John Fisher invented a machine which although designed for the production of lace, was essentially a working sewing machine. Probably because of miss-filing at the patent office, this invention was overlooked during the long legal arguments between Singer and Howe as to the origins of the sewing machine.
Desperately in debt Howe sent his brother Amasa to England with the machine with the hope that it would receive more interest on the other side of the Atlantic. Amasa could find only one backer, a corset maker William Thomas, who eventually bought the rights to the invention and arranged for Elias to come to London to further develop the machine.
The two accusing each other for failing to honour agreements and eventually Elias returned to America. When he arrived home he found that the sewing machine had finally caught on and that dozens of manufacturers, including Singer, were busy manufacturing machines.