I see in the Herald’s Red River Valley calendar titled, “The Spot,” that on this day (Sept 10) in 1846, Elias Howe patented the first sewing machine.
Because I so appreciate this pioneers’ efforts and creativity and because I dearly love my old Singer, I googled Elias only to learn that he and I have something in common.
We both are 9th of July babies.
Not long after Jim and I were married and while living in Cheyenne, Wyo., he bought a Singer sewing machine for me. When our sons were little and I was a stay-at-home-mom, I sewed up a storm. Made most of my own clothes and even sewed sport coats for father and sons. The ones I made for Jim came complete with lapels. The boys I made lapel-less.
Below is a photo of Jim and our oldest son, Troy, sporting their fall plaid sport coats in the year 1967.
The time came when I thought I wanted one of those new fangled do-everything Singers on the market, so one day Jim and I took my Singer and went to the Singer store to look at them. I was quite surprised when the sales associate actually talked me out of trading in my old Singer because what I had, he claimed, was the best one could get. He said that was so because mine is all metal with no plastic parts.
So we took my Singer back home.
Many years have since passed and I still have my trusty ole Singer, thanks to Jim. That machine and the boxes that hold every story I’ve ever written for the Herald were the last things he brought up from the basement the day we evacuated our home during the 1997 flood. Below is my Singer machine, a far cry from Elias Howe’s first machine shown below mine.
Here’s what I learned online about Elias Howe:
He was born in Spencer, Mass., on July 9, 1819. After he lost his factory job in the Panic of 1837, Howe moved from Spencer to Boston, where he found work in a machinist’s shop. It was there that he began tinkering with the idea of inventing a mechanical sewing machine.
Contrary to popular belief, Howe was not the first to visualize the idea of a sewing machine. Other people had formulated the idea before him, one as early as 1790, and some had even patented their designs and produced working machines. But, Howe originated significant refinements to the design concepts of his predecessors, and on September 10, 1846, he was awarded the first United States patent (U.S. Patent 4,750) for a sewing machine using a lockstitch design. His machine contained the three essential features common to most modern machines:
1. a needle with the eye at the point,
2. a shuttle operating beneath the cloth to form the lock stitch, and
3. an automatic feed.
I no longer have a box full of Simplicity patterns and I haven’t made something from scratch in years, but my trusty ole Singer never fails me when I need it. That’s because every so often it gets a tune-up at Dietrich Sewing Machine Co., East Grand Forks.
I must sign off now as I have a new pair of jeans to shorten.