The Impact of the Invention of the Sewing Machine on America

1266 words 6 pages
Tracie Jackson Chamberlain College of Nursing HUMN303 Introduction to Humanities Professor Catherine Coan
June 12, 2011

The Impact of the Invention of the Sewing Machine on America

The large number of practical and useful inventions brought forward during the time leading up to and including the period known as the Industrial Revolution had a significant impact on both American society and the world. The transition that took place resulted in reliance on mechanical sources of power/energy rather than the traditional human or animal sources to produce the products needed (Hackett, 1992). One of
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Singer, a trained mechanic, duplicated Howe’s patented lockstitch seam, but modified the machine itself to operate with a vertical needle mechanism and a foot treadle as opposed to a hand crank. His machine also included a table to support the fabric and a vertical pressure foot to hold the cloth in place while the needle moved up and down. Singer was a skillful businessman and was very successful in marketing the first commercially successful sewing machine during the 1850’s (Bellis, 2011) when the machine was mass-produced for the first time. His machine was more adaptable to home use than earlier models. To match his competition, Singer offered potential customers the ability to set up a payment plan over time to increase his sales and capture more of the market (Museum of American Heritage, 2010).
The development and refinement of the sewing machine was influenced early on by the increasing need to produce sewn goods quickly and efficiently. The early machines were large, heavy and specifically designed for factory use (Kramerae, 2005). However, as more women became proficient at machine sewing by working in the sewing factories, and the United States became involved in the Civil War, the sewing machine became more like a symbol of American innovation and achievement. In particular, the machine was used to provide inexpensive clothing for people who could not afford to otherwise buy or make


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