Before the invention of the sewing machine, only a member of the elite would be able to wear an expertly sewn item of clothing. Imagine how many hours it would take someone to hand-stitch your favorite outfit.
The time and labor expended would be astronomical compared to the modern cost of manufacturing the same clothes. Even the five best seamstresses of the 19 th Century could not keep up with a single, prototypical sewing machine.
Inventors had known for decades that a sewing machine would revolutionize the textile industry. A French inventor named Barthelemy Thimonnier even had his factory torched in 1829 after he filled it with primitive machines of his own creation.
The tailors of Paris did not appreciate his interference with their trade and destroyed his workshop. Those who understood the potential of the sewing machine and were able to convince the commercial market of its useful and not destructive power, such as Elias Howe and Isaac Singer, became millionaires.
Since the late 19 th Century the sewing machine has undergone countless innovations but none can improve upon the basic stitching mechanism, invented in 1834 by Walter Hunt. This mechanism is called the lockstitch and it is still used today by sewing machines all over the world. The lockstitch performs just as its name implies: it locks a stitch in place using two streams of thread, a needle, and a bobbin.
Further innovations upon the basic sewing machine design include a floor pedal as opposed to a hand crank, a zigzag stitch as opposed to a straight stitch, and machines equipped with microprocessors that can computerize an infinite number of stitches and designs in fabric.
The sewing machine is especially influential because it can be used on a small scale in someone’s home and on a much larger, commercial scale in a textile factory.
The machine has made leagues of progress since its invention and it will continue to adapt with time and technology to the appreciation of fashion lovers everywhere.