Alex has spent a lifetime in the sewing industry and is considered one of the foremost experts of pioneering machines and their inventors. He has written extensively for trade magazines, radio, television, books and publications world wide.
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Most of us know the name Singer but few are aware of
his amazing life story, his rags to riches journey from a little runaway
to one of the richest men of his age. The story of Isaac Merritt Singer
will blow your mind, his wives and lovers his castles and palaces all
built on the back of one of the greatest inventions of the 19th century.
For the first time the most complete story of a forgotten giant is
brought to you by Alex Askaroff.
A Brief History of the Sewing Machine
"One of the few useful things ever invented"
So, who invented the sewing machine! People are always asking me? It's a great story.
By the middle of the Victorian Era sewing machines were taking hold but before that period all fabric would have been joined by hand, every single stitch. The method hardly changes since stone age times. Clothes were slow and timely to produce and cost a lot of money, even the thread cost a fortune. Factories around the world were employing people (mainly women because they were better at it) to sew all day long. I once heard that a factory in America employed over 3,000 women sewing by hand. As the population of our planet exploded and the Industrial revolution took hold someone had to come up with a solution of how to join two pieces of fabric quicker and cheaper than by hand. This in turn led to a fascinating trail of invention and failure. Some inventors died in poverty some became richer beyond all their dreams. One man, Isaac Singer, became famous. His name is still one of the most well known names all over the world.
So how did it all begin? First of all I want you to read a quote from one of the Sewing Machine Pioneers, James Edward Allen Gibbs. James was the son of a Shenandoah farmer born 1 August 1829. He witnessed the major development of the sewing machine. In 1901 he was interviewed about his inventions and patents. No other person alive was better qualified to quote on the subject. His words are absolutely crucial in understanding the development of the sewing machine.
"No useful sewing machine was ever invented by one man; and all first attempts to do work by machinery, previously done by hand, have been failures. It is only after several able inventors have failed in attempt, that someone with the mental powers to combine the efforts of others with his own, at last produces a practicable sewing machine."
That is the crux of it. Sewing machine manufacture started slowly and was constantly interrupted. However in the 50 years from 1846 the sewing machine went from a circus attraction to a necessity for every household. The Victorian era, with its massive expansion in industry and technology proved to be the fertile ground from which the sewing machine grew.
By the year 1900 over 20 million sewing machines a year were being produced from factories all over the world. It is true to say that no single invention was as eagerly accepted by people in all four corners of the planet as the humble sewing machine.
" In the history of the world the sewing machine has freed more women from the drudgery of manual labor than any invention to date!"
A brief history of the invention of the sewing machine, without the boring bits.
Sussex Born and Bred, and Corner of the Kingdom
Main Site Index: Index
Please forgive any inaccuracies I do try by best. Do let me know if you spot anything.
A great read: Ena Wilf & The One-Armed Machinist
A brilliant slice of 1940's life: Spies & Spitfires
I loved your article about the invention of the sewing machine.
Hi there Mr. Sussex!
Amazing! I cannot imagine how long it took you to research all of this and you still managed to find humor about it.
How true, I'm sure, so many of our modern conveniences really are a collaborative effort by many perfecting upon one another.
Marlborough, Massachusettes. USA
for the wonderful story of how the sewing machine came into being.
And for the wonderful way in which you write.
from Chilliwack BC CanadaMr. Alex,
your articles for sewing machines are perfect!
I don't know the published day of the article about sewing machine's invention history, but It was very helpful for my paper I 'm working on, for university!
Easy and enjoyable to read!
Your extended and detailed research work about sewing machine and its history, shows your true love for it!
Thanx Again for your contribution to sewing history!
University of Crete, Economics Department
Oh, Alex! You've made the whole story of
While I have your attention have a
quick glimpse of Singer machines in their first century.