Isaac Merrit Singer: The Sewing Machine

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The sewing machine is one of the most important inventions in the world. This essay will begin with the first sewing machine made by Frenchman Barthélemy Thimonnier, a man obsessed with the idea of a machine that could replicate hand sewing. Elias Howe’s machine will then be addressed. Howe created a machine that worked but was not exactly practical. His wealth came from his patented ideas rather than his invention. Lastly, Isaac Merrit Singer will be acknowledged for his creation. His first patented design is not too unlike today’s sewing machines. His exceptional design made him a household name that survives two hundred years after his invention. The sewing machine was first used in industry in America. The introduction of the machine had significant industrial and social impacts. Before the sewing machine, middle class housewives and their seamstresses would spend days maintaining the family’s clothes. As all of the garments were hand sewn – a long process that required a high level of skill – most people often only had two outfits; their working clothes and their Sunday clothes. The sewing machines use in industry meant that clothes could be mass produced. Wealthy women now wanted more clothes, more variety in designs and for the garments to be sold at a lower price (Perkin, 2002). The expectations of the rich did not translate well for the poor women and children working in the textile mills. They already worked in overcrowded, poorly ventilated factories for up to

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