Sewing Machine History?

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diana
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Sewing Machine History?

Postby diana » Tue Apr 12, 2011 10:32 am

Does anyone know what year home sewing machines became affordable so there was one in every home?

I'm finding so many websites on the history but none answer this question. They simply say that Singer eventually advertised One in Every Home but I think they were referring to his partner's installment plan method.

Thanks for any help!
Diana

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MaryGode
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Re: Sewing Machine History?

Postby MaryGode » Tue Apr 12, 2011 11:06 am

I found this page when I was researching the zigzag stitch:

The first mechanical sewing machines were used in garment factory production lines. It was not until 1889 that a sewing machine for use in the home was designed and marketed. By 1905, the electrically-powered sewing machine was in wide use.

Edit to add: I have custody of my great-gran's machine. According to the serial number, it was a treadle made in 1920, but it was converted to electric sometime in the fifties according to family lore. It has a Kenmore motor attached to the back. So the mention above about electric in wide use by 1905 seems a little off to me. Maybe in big cities as opposed to the country where my old Singer lived and worked...
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AmandaDC3
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Re: Sewing Machine History?

Postby AmandaDC3 » Tue Apr 12, 2011 11:52 am

1889 seems a little late to me.

In Little Town on the Prairie Laura Ingalls Wilder describes working in a store for a woman who owns one, and in These Happy Golden Years Pa gets one for Ma. The books take place in the 1880s.
Tiffers
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Re: Sewing Machine History?

Postby Tiffers » Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:51 pm

MaryGode wrote:I found this page when I was researching the zigzag stitch:

The first mechanical sewing machines were used in garment factory production lines. It was not until 1889 that a sewing machine for use in the home was designed and marketed. By 1905, the electrically-powered sewing machine was in wide use.



That quote is actually referring to the first electricly powered machines. An electrically powered machine was first available for use in the home in 1889. Electric was available from about 1880 in the most forward thinking of houses and of course, those who were close enough to the power sources.

Hand cranked machines were available for home use from about 1854 or thereabouts following on from a court case about patents which was resolved in that year.

I'm pretty certain I have my facts correct! I hope this helps :)

Tiffers
AmandaDC3
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Re: Sewing Machine History?

Postby AmandaDC3 » Tue Apr 12, 2011 2:40 pm

Ahhhhhhhh!

Electricity--that explains the time difference.
Heather
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Re: Sewing Machine History?

Postby Heather » Tue Apr 12, 2011 4:21 pm

Well, Singer was the first company to promote a home use machine starting in 1860. They have records to show they produced/sold 1 million machines by 1870, for home use. I pretty much use the 1870 mark as "sewing machines are prevalent in most households." They just sell like crazy after that. And that is only 1 machine company

I got this information while looking up the serial numbers on my old Singers. They still have the serial numbers listings that were made for any given year from pretty much the beginning.
gretagretchen
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Re: Sewing Machine History?

Postby gretagretchen » Thu Apr 14, 2011 6:57 pm

speaking of which I recently acquired a Singer featherweight from the late 30s. It needs a bit of work and I am at a loss where to take it. I've been a little unhappy with the resources I'm finding on the internet. I'm in Atlanta. If anyone has any ideas.
Aka Wilhelmina Frame, Editrix de Mode, steampunkchronicle.com
SarahS
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Re: Sewing Machine History?

Postby SarahS » Thu Apr 28, 2011 5:19 am

Singer's mid 1850's machines cost about $1800 (the exact figure is in another of my posts somewhere around here) in today's money (using an inflation calculator based on U.S. Government inflation figures) which is why he is credited with creating the installment plan to allow more people to buy them then would otherwise have been possible. I don't know that he invented the installment plan but he is generally given credit to being the first to use it on a large scale to encourage sales.

As time went on and the richer people would have upgraded to newer machines selling off their old machines they would have started their way down to lower income households. I haven't run across the price of machines from later Victorian periods so I don't know how fast the price of new machines dropped. There were some machines in the 1840's that could have been used in the home but would have probably been only on a very small scale to wealthy people looking for a novelty and not very common. So if you want to say your say 1850 machine sewed dress is authentic you will have to come up with some story about the very wealthy woman who bought one for curiosity or to say she was the first person in her county to have one but soon got bored with it and gave it to her seamstress in the hopes it would speed up her dressmaking :D .

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