Sewing machines changed the world

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 17, 2011

If you are 50 years old or older, this story will probably be of interest to you. If you are really young, you probably cannot imagine how hard it was to live years ago or how things were done back then.

Today, you walk into a retail store and buy your clothes from a rack

in just your size, but years ago

your grandmother or mother

made clothes by using a sewing machine and a dress pattern. Grandmother probably had the pedal type before they invented

the electric sewing machine. Have

you ever stopped to think about

how sewing machines were invented?

Charles Fredrick Wiesenthal, a native of Germany, constructed the first mechanical sewing device in 1755. It was limited as to what it was designed to

do. Then in 1790 Thomas Saint patented a sewing machine. This machine did not work well, but the overhead arm and the tension system were modified and are still being used today.

Then in the early 1800s, White sewing machines came out with a machine and sold it for $10. The most popular of all sewing machines was the Singer. In 1850, Isaac Merritt Singer, a machinist at a Boston machine shop, invented the Singer sewing machine. It took him 11 days and about $40 to create a machine that would revolutionize sewing across the globe.

In 1850, Orsen C. Phelps manufactured the sewing machine under the license of John A. Lerow. After this invention, Singer examined his machine and made changes. Singer was sued for infringing on other sewing machine ideas. He lost his case in court and had to pay $15 for every sewing machine he had sold. Singer then went into business with Edward Clark and sold affordable sewing machines for everyone to buy.

The Singer sewing machine became the most popular in the world and to this day is still being sold around the world. Just think it all started in a machine shop in 1850 with about $40, and the invention is now worth millions of dollars, and most homes have one.

Sears & Roebuck sold the following machines in their catalog in 1897. They sold from $8.50 to $25. There were a number of different machines and sold under the names New Home, Acme, New Queen and Success, to name a few.

The Louisiana Treasures Museum has several sewing machines on display from years ago. For hours of operation or to schedule tours call me at 225-294-8352. We are located at 10290 Highway 22-West of Ponchatoula.

Wayne Norwood is a lieutenant with the St. John the Baptist Sheriff’s Department and owner and operator of the Louisiana Treasures Museum.