The New Student's Reference Work/Sewing-Machine
Sew′ing-Machine′, a machine which takes the place of the old-fashioned needle and thread in sewing garments. Several attempts were made in England and the United States to invent a machine for sewing, but without much success until Elias Howe of Cambridge, Mass., patented his first machine in 1846. This machine uses the lock-stitch, which is used by most machines now, and from 1854 until the patents expired Howe received a royalty on every machine made, amounting to over $2,000,000. The lock-stitch makes use of two threads, one in the needle which pushes the thread down through the cloth, forming a loop; the other thread is wound on a bobbin and placed in a shuttle which carries the second thread through the loop made by the first one. The rotating hook is used instead of a shuttle in some machines. The loop-stitch is made by a curved needle, which catches the loop made by the upper needle and passes the thread through it. The most important improvement on Howe's original machine was made by Allan B. Wilson in his “four-motioned feed,” which carries the work along and has been adopted in all machines. There are a large variety of machines, differing slightly, and also those made for different purposes. The family sewing-machine has revolutionized the work of the home; the button-hole machine cuts the hole, works it around, bars the ends, stops of itself when it is done, and makes 6,000 buttonholes in a day. The carpet-sewing machine, the cylinder machine for stitching mailbags, satchels, shoes, water-hose and all kinds of leather work; the universal arm-feeder machine for making gloves; the basting and quilting machine; and the pattern-stitching machine are a few of the varieties in use. The largest sewing-machine manufacturing company is the Singer, which has factories in Scotland, Austria, Canada and the United States. Since 1878, when the principal patents expired, the price of sewing-machines has been much reduced.