In 1755 the first sewing machine was invented by the German inventor, Karl Weisenthal, who created the first sewing machine needle, but never finished the invention of the machine. The first machine that was usable was invented in 1790, by British Inventor, Thomas Saint. It only used one thread to form a chain stitch, and was mostly used on shoes. It didn’t have a needle, but used an awl to get through the heavy leather fabric. And it never was produced beyond the patent model.
The man who figured out the two-thread system we use today was American Walter Hunt in 1834—he also invented the safety pin. But he gave up the invention when he became convinced that his sewing machine would cause too many seamstresses to be out of work.
The inventor who finally got it right has a familiar name: Singer.
Singer brought the sewing machine to the people. He advertised, and provided service-after-the-sale. He sold the machines for $75-$125 in fancy showrooms, and let people pay in installments. This was essential for sales, as the normal annual income was $500 and as such, people would have to pool their money to buy a single machine for an entire small town.
But then a young farmer, James Gibbs, saw a picture of a Singer machine and made his own. He teamed up with James Willcox to sell a lighter, cheaper model than the expensive Singer (he sold his for $50.) Willcox & Gibbs sold machines until the 1970’s.
|Helen Blanchard patent drawings|