A sewing machine is a device with which the sewing of fabrics can be done semi-automatically.

Sewing machine history


Around 1755, various European countries tried to invent a suitable machine that could replace sewing by hand. Developments focused on the major tailors.

Around 1830, the first machines appeared in sewing workshops in France. These were not liked by the workers, but the invention and improvements of the machine were unstoppable. In the ‘New World’, too, a search was underway for a machine that could replace the slow and expensive manual work. The first useful application was the sewing machine developed by Barthélemy Thimonnier. With his invention, he won a contract for the production of French army uniforms. Thimonnier’s machine sewed a chain stitch (see also overlocker). In the United States, meanwhile, it was Elias Howe, who developed a loose spool machine, the mechanism that is still used in most sewing machines today.

In the second half of the 19th century, the sewing machine was perfected, among others by Isaac Singer and could also be used by the housewife. The development of the treadle sewing machine turned out to be a real improvement because people now had their hands completely free for the sewing material. The machines were also given more options, various sewing stitches such as zigzags and hems became possible.

The pedal sewing machine was later replaced by the electric machine and it is still in use today.


A household sewing machine uses two threads of yarn, as opposed to hand sewing, which is generally done with one thread. One of the two threads is wound on a bobbin, which lies loosely in a holder – the so-called boat – under the fabric. The other thread runs from the spool of thread on top of the sewing machine through a thread guide to the needle. The eye of the needle is close to the tip. The needle moves up and down. If the needle goes down, the thread guide also goes down, so that the thread is not or hardly unwound from the spool. The thread goes through the fabric and forms a loop there. An ingenious mechanism picks up this loop and pulls it around the bobbin. With the electric sewing machine the bobbin itself remains in the same place, with the manual sewing machine the bobbin is in a boat that is inserted through the loop. When the needle comes up again, the thread guide also goes up, pulling the thread tight and holding the seam together.

The mechanism around the bobbin is the most vulnerable. Loops that protrude from the sewn fabric may be too long, or thread breakage may occur.

A sewing machine is always equipped with a mechanism to wind the thread on the bobbin. Generally, the same thread color is used for both threads.