On this day in 1851, American inventor Isaac Singer received his first patent on what would become the sewing machine we know and love today.
Sewing machines already existed and many different patents, owned by many different inventors were already in place. After examining sewing machines in his friend’s repair shop, Singer thought they would be much more reliable if instead of a circle, the shuttle operated in a straight line. Which then led to him removing the curved needle and replacing it with a straight one.
This change made the sewing machine much more practical and easy to produce. The improved machine could sew up to 900 stitches per minute, which was totally unheard of.
To help manufacture the machines and bring them into peoples homes, all the patent holders came together to form a patent pool, in which an agreement was drawn up for everyone to profit from the creation and marketing of the new machine.
Starting in 1856, small machines available for home use were put on the market and completely revolutionized women’s lives. The first machines were rather costly at 100$, but the price was soon lowered and Singer’s partner was able to pioneer a payment plan based on instalments, making it easy for families to invest.
Before sewing machines entered the home, women would spend several days a month working on the upkeep of their families clothes by hand. The new machines enabled them to do other things, including entering the work force. Many women went to work in factories following the arrivals of sewing machines.
Truly a revolutionary invention!