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In 1790 English inventor
History and development
Thomas Saint was the first to patent a design for a sewing machine but he did not advertise his invention. It was meant for leather and canvas. It is likely that Saint had a working model but there is no evidence of one; he was a skilled cabinet maker and included many practically functional features: an overhanging arm, a feed mechanism (adequate for short lengths of leather), a vertical needle bar, and a looper. (In 1874 a sewing machine manufacturer, William Newton Wilson, found Saint's drawings in the London Patent Office, made adjustments to the looper, and built a working machine, currently owned by the London Science Museum.)
An Austrian tailor Josef Madersperger began developing the first sewing machine in 1807. He presented the first working machine in 1814. In 1830 Barthélemy Thimonnier, a French tailor, patented a sewing machine that sewed straight seams using chain stitch. By 1841, Thimonnier had a factory of 80 machines sewing uniforms for the French Army. The factory was destroyed by rioting French tailors afraid of losing their livelihood. Thimonnier had no further success with his machine.
The first American lockstitch sewing machine was invented by Walter Hunt in 1832. His machine used an eye-pointed needle (with the eye and the point on the same end) carrying the upper thread and a falling shuttle carrying the lower thread. The curved needle moved through the fabric horizontally, leaving the loop as it withdrew. The shuttle passed through the loop, interlocking the thread. The feed let the machine down, requiring the machine to be stopped frequently and reset up. Hunt eventually lost interest in his machine and sold it without bothering to patent it.
Elias Howe's lockstitch machine, invented 1845
In 1842, John Greenough patented the first sewing machine in the United States. Elias Howe, born in Spencer, Massachusetts, created his sewing machine in 1845, using a similar method to Hunt's, except the fabric was held vertically. The major improvement he made was to have the needle running away from the point, starting from the eye. After a lengthy stint in England trying to attract interest in his machine he returned to America to find various people infringing his patent, among them Isaac Merritt Singer. He eventually won a case against patent infringement in 1854 and was awarded the right to claim royalties from the manufacturers using ideas covered by his patent, including Singer.